TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS GIRLS BASKETBALL: Piecing it Together
Falling behind 15-6 in the first six minutes wasn’t how the Santa Barbara High girls basketball team envisioned opening the game.
But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
The Dons (9-6) went on a 35-12 run to end the first half before cruising through the second half on their way to a 67-54 victory over Simi Valley in its own Tournament of Champions at J.R. Richards Gym.
Santa Barbara seems to always struggle the first few minutes when teams drop into a zone defense. The girls take bad shots, or worse, throw the ball to the other team, making it appear as if they’ve never prepared for that type of defense.
“Zone is so funny because it’s like a puzzle,” said Dons coach Andrew Butcher after the win. “If you solve the puzzle it’s the most fun thing there is, but it takes patience and you have to move ahead and do a little chess playing.”
Butcher joked his team should warm up against a zone defense in order to work off those early-game jitters, a deficiency he hopes his team can improve upon as the season unfolds.
“We do it in practice every day, and then it looks like we never played a zone before,” he said.
Led by some hot shooting by freshman Caia Trimble, Santa Barbara was able to overcome the early game woes. Trimble scored 22 points in the win, making eight of her 18 shot attempts – including three 3-pointers in the first half.
Winners of four straight, Santa Barbara shot 42 percent in Thursday’s victory. The Dons had 16 steals, including four by Trimble and five by sophomore Athena Saragoza. Butcher said his team is best suited in playing an up-tempo style.
In order to get out and run the floor a team must control the glass, which is something junior Maya Banks has allowed the team to do.
Banks, at 5-foot-5, is undersized a majority of the time when she is down low. She is able to use her strength to hold her ground and snatch missed shots and allow her teammates to run the floor.
“She’s amazing,” Butcher said. “I just got to get her to shoot the ball a little more.”
Banks finished the game with just 5 points, but ripped down 14 rebounds – six of them offensive – in the win.
“I think it really just started this year,” Banks said after the game when asked about her newly found rebounding prowess.
Described by her coach as the heart and soul of the team, Banks agreed with that assessment and said she is doing her best to hold others accountable.
“I just try and lift everybody up and make sure everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do,” she said.
What’s going through her mind when she’s giving up six or seven inches to an opposing player?
“I just have to tell myself that I can do it,” she explained.
The positive self-talk has been working, as her coach chimed in and called Banks a “rebounding machine.”
Saragoza finished with 15 points, four assists and threerebounds. Mireya Gil added eight points and Lexi Alvarez scored six.
Santa Barbara will play again today at 4 p.m. against Foothill Tech, a team that upset J.W. North prior to the Dons taking the floor. Butcher pointed out that Foothill was able to create issues with its press defense.
“If we don’t turn the ball over we might come out with a pretty comfortable win, but we gotta figure that out,” he said.
In an earlier contest, the Santa Ynez High girls squad dropped its matchup against Ventura, 48-39. The Pirates (8-8) fell behind 18-5 after the first quarter and went into the half trailing 26-11. Santa Ynez outscored Ventura 14-7 in the final period.
Senior Lita Wright and sophomore Grace Padilla led the Pirates in scoring, each tallying 10 points and both girls knocked down a pair of three-pointers. Padilla had a team-high seven rebounds and recorded eight steals in the game. Sophomores Kattie Nguyen and Madison Holbrook each pitched in five points in the loss.
Santa Ynez will take on Simi Valley today at 2:30 p.m.