What began as a preseason aspiration became a reality Wednesday night for the Santa Barbara High girls basketball team.
Following their 55-37 victory over Dos Pueblos, the Dons finish the season a perfect 10-0 in Channel League and 17-9 overall, having won 11 of their last 12 games.
“That was one of our main goals and we just kept pushing,” Katrina Regalado said after the game. “We had a couple of tough moments, but we kept pushing and we came back.
“It just feels good to finally finish the goal you set out to accomplish at the beginning of the season.”
Santa Barbara jumped out front in the early going, taking a 9-3 following a layup by Maya Banks. A corner 3-pointer by Athena Saragoza pushed Santa Barbara’s advantage to 12-6 before DP caught fire from distance. Lily Mires banked home a 3-pointer with a minute left in the quarter before Miracle Millinghaus nailed a three. Saragoza’s jumper with nine seconds left gave Santa Barbara a 14-12 lead after one.
Leading 16-12 early in the second quarter, Saragoza went on a personal 8-0, including consecutive 3-pointers, to push the Dons’ lead to 24-12. Regalado scored Santa Barbara’s final five points of the half in the final two minutes to put the Dons ahead 29-17 at the break.
“It got us pumped and it got us going,” she said. “And for DP to have their senior night on our night, it kind of got us going, like ‘let’s go, let’s finish league strong’ and we definitely did that.”
The Chargers came out firing in the third quarter and a layup by Ashley Gerken cut the deficit to 29-23. Briana Trujillo banked home a 3-pointer to start an 11-0 run for Santa Barbara, which pushed its lead to 40-25 with 2:20 left in the third. Millinghaus poured in a pair of 3-pointers to bring DP within nine heading to the fourth.
“We really wanted to get back in the game,” DP’s Sadie Subject said. “I mean, it was our last home game and we’re not for sure in the playoffs, so we wanted to play it out as hard as we could.”
The Dons showed their championship grit in the fourth, as Saragoza opened the period with a 3-pointer and her layup with 3:18 left capped off a 10-0 run to help the Dons close it out.
Saragoza finished with a game-high 27 points, including five 3-pointers. Caia Trimble finished with just two points on 1-for-10 shooting, but she dished out five assists and finished with four rebounds, four steals and a block. Regalado scored 10 points and Maya Banks had four points and tied with Jaeda Spence for a team-high 12 rebounds.
The 2019-20 season marks the first unbeaten league season for the Dons since 1988, a feat that was not lost on coach Andrew Butcher.
“Like everyone, we had some injuries we had to overcome, but they just did a terrific job,” he said. “They’ve been great, they practice hard, they get along with each other and they take coaching – it’s been really fun.”
Santa Barbara will learn its postseason fate Sunday, though it’s unclear if it will be hosting a first-round game.
“We’re not in Division 1 for the first time in forever, but Division 2AA – I don’t even know if we’ll have a home game because they’re so many league champions in it,” Butcher said.
DP (14-10, 4-6 in Channel League) is also expected to learn this weekend if it received an at-large bid for Division 4A.
Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Chargers honored their four seniors – Subject, Mikayla Butzke, Olivia Roark and Tatum Dunson. Butzke told the News-Press she will miss the team chemistry the girls formed this season but hoped she left a good impression on the program. She was also sad to say goodbye to coach Phil Sherman.
“He gives heartfelt and personal speeches to us and it speaks to me and makes me want to try harder,” she said. “He really just inspires me.”