When the SBCC women’s basketball team played L.A. Valley earlier this season, very little went wrong for the Vaqueros. They mopped the floor with the Monarchs on that early season night.
On Wednesday night when the two met again in the first round of the playoffs, very little went right for SBCC, and the end result was a 70-50 loss at the Sports Pavilion that ended the Vaqueros’ season.
While it was a bitter pill for coach Sandrine Krul and her players to swallow, it was an accomplishment just getting to the postseason.
SBCC had to beat Hancock in last Friday’s regular-season finale just to get in. There was also a 36-day stretch this season when the Vaqueros didn’t even play a game because Cuesta and L.A. Pierce dropped their women’s teams due to a lack of player participation. With all of that, SBCC still managed to finish third in the Western State Conference North, and get three players on the conference’s First Team.
They were points that Krul quickly made after Wednesday’s loss.
“Playoffs is icing on the cake,” she said. “We finished third in conference and we had three players on the All-Conference First Team finishing third. We had 36 days with no game. What this team has accomplished with the adversity (it faced), that’s what you write.
“This is icing on the cake. We had to beat Hancock to get in, and then we get the 15 seed. This team played hard all year, and again, when you have two programs, Cuesta and Pierce, that dropped their programs, and you don’t play a game for 36 days, that hurts a program. That hurts the team. And then we make the playoffs.”
SBCC beat L.A. Valley, 80-56, on Nov. 21. In that game, the Vaqueros shot 52%. On Wednesday, SBCC never led, and shot 35%, while making just 3 of 18 3-pointers.
“This team is all about adversity, and tonight it just didn’t go our way,” Krul said. “Against Hancock, we hit 14 threes, tonight we didn’t. This loss doesn’t diminish the amazing athletes that they are, and I really want you to write that. I don’t want you to write how great L.A. Valley was, I want you to write about the tenacity, the adversity and how (we) got here. That’s the story.”
Krul went on to say that it was more of an emotional difference than a physical one from Friday’s six-point win at Hancock.
“They’re 18-year-olds. We had a great game, emotionally, versus Hancock, and it’s hard to sustain that,” she said. “We did everything we could in practice to keep their emotional level (high). That game wasn’t about physical toughness, it was about emotional maturity.
“You’re so high after winning on Friday, you get into the playoffs and you go so high, and then you crash, because they want it so bad. This team wanted it so bad, but you’ve got to sustain, emotionally. I’m really proud of them. To finish third and get three first teamers and two honorable mentions. We have a lot of respect from the conference. I’m very excited. I’m excited that the six sophomores are all being recruited, they’re going to go on to four year (schools), and this will be a moment that they’ll always remember. It’s a special group. They’re family, forever.”
Brianna Torres led the Monarchs with 20 points and Janelle Jiron had 14. Also playing a key role for L.A. Valley was Rebecca Castillo, who buried four 3-pointers and finished with 13 points off the bench.
There was no question that the Monarchs were ready for the Vaqueros this time around.
“The first time when we played them in the beginning of the season, we just weren’t ready yet,” L.A. Valley coach Monica Hang said. “We were a new team with new players, and they just didn’t know their roles and responsibilities. This time, we just wanted to win.
“Work hard and play smart, that’s what we wanted to do. Obviously, we prepared for them and made some adjustments from the first game and just did what we had to do. We got some stops and made some shots for 40 minutes.”
L.A. Valley (16-13) shot 44% and made 6 of 17 from beyond the 3-point line. Even though her team had a 17-point lead at halftime, Hang admitted that the game was far from over.
“It’s a 40-minute game,” she said. “Our foot was on the gas pedal and I just kept telling them to keep going and play it by quarters, play it by possessions. It’s not really the scoreboard, it’s just how we performed throughout the game.”
Former Santa Barbara High standout Alondra Jimenez played 32 minutes and led SBCC with 17 points. Jordan Parkhurst also finished in double-figure scoring with 10 points for the Vaqueros.
“We’re recruiting like crazy,” Krul said when asked about next season’s prospects. “We are recruiting 30 to get a good 15. I love recruiting. … The key is now we have three amazing freshmen, and now we’ve just got to fill in. That’s why I’m so tired. I’m at games all the time, but I love it. It’ll be great next year. We’ll have a team of freshmen and we’ll continue the ride.”