Although the Santa Barbara High girls basketball team played host to Harvard-Westlake on Thursday night, the Dons were far from home when it was over.
Behind a game-high 22 points from forward Kiki Iriafen and 10 from point guard Kimiko Katzaroff, the Wolverines cruised to a 60-30 win in a CIF-Southern Section Division 1 first-round playoff game at J.R. Richards Gym.
“In the second and third quarters, we got away from our game plan, defensively, and we missed a lot of shots,” Santa Barbara coach Andrew Butcher said.
Indeed it was the middle quarters when Harvard-Westlake, which tied for first in the Mission League, ran away with the game.
The Wolverines outscored the Dons, 22-6, in the second and 13-8 in the third. It didn’t get much better for Santa Barbara in the fourth, when it was outscored, 19-6. While Iriafen, a 6-foot-4 sophomore talent was nearly indefensible for an undersized Dons’ team, it was the defensive transition in the second quarter, or lack thereof, that Butcher pointed out as being a major flaw for his group.
“I was disappointed that we gave them all those transition baskets in the second quarter, because those are easy baskets, and that’s just not thinking,” he said. “You can’t play scattered, and we played scattered for those two quarters (in the second and third).
“I’m not saying we would have won the game, but it could have been much more competitive.
Santa Barbara (17-11) actually led, 10-6, after the first quarter. The Dons held Iriafen to just four points on a layup and two free throws during the opening eight minutes.
But in the second, it was a different story. Iriafen opened up her inside game, scoring eight points on four field goals to help the Wolverines to a 28-16 lead at the break.
“The first quarter, we were double-teaming her, and the third quarter we were doubling her, then we’d forget,” Butcher said. “When you’ve got a kid who’s scoring half their points the last few games, you want to double her.
“We’d kind of forget or we get tired. If we could have kept them to 45 points and hit a few more shots, we kind of have a chance.”
That was not the case for the Dons, who finished 12 of 56 (21 percent) from the field, and 0-for-10 from 3-point range.
“A lot of that is because they weren’t open shots,” Butcher said of his team’s tough shooting night. “Their defensive pressure, obviously, in the second and third quarters was tough for us.
“They’re a very, very good defensive team, and you’ve got to be strong with the ball and slow things down. We were speeding things up, and that doesn’t work.
“Toward the end of the third quarter, we started to settle down and make better decisions.”
But by then, it was too late, as the Wolverines (20-8) were in complete control, leading 41-24 entering the fourth.
“We haven’t seen that kind of defensive pressure (this season),” Butcher added.
Sophomore guard Athena Saragoza led Santa Barbara with 13 points, while Katrina Regalado had nine and Caia Trimble finished with eight.
Butcher was asked if he felt Harvard-Westlake was a tough first-round draw.
“All the teams in Division 1 are good,” he said.
“I don’t know how many third-place teams are in this division. I think there’s one or two, and that’s because they’re playing nationally ranked teams.
“It would have been nice to be in a different division to get two or three playoff games for the younger kids, but it’s kind of a compliment to our program that we’re in this division.”