TOC: Fast start propels Dons to a spot in semifinals

Melissa Lemus set the table for Santa Barbara High’s girls basketball team in its 64-49 quarterfinal win over Bonita at the Tournament of Champions on Thursday night.

Lemus dished out six assists in the first quarter as the Dons raced out to a 16-5 lead and never looked back in advancing to Friday night’s 7:30 semifinal against second-seeded Bishop Montgomery at J.R. Richards Gym.

Bishop Montgomery, which starts only one senior, booked its spot in the semis with a 56-34 win over Harvard Westlake.

In the upper bracket of the 16-team tournament, top-seeded Orange Lutheran faces Ventura in the other semifinal at 6 p.m. at Santa Barbara.

Orange Lutheran blew out Oak Park 55-30, while Ventura topped Mira Costa 68-60 in Thursday quarterfinal games at Dos Pueblos.

Dos Pueblos rebounded from its first-round loss, beating Oxnard-Pacifica 49-45. The Chargers play St. Bonaventure in a consolation semifinal game Friday at Santa Barbara at 4:30 p.m.

Lemus turned in a Showtime-like performance in the first quarter. Her repertoire included bounce passes, no-look passes, behind-the-back passes and standard chest pass for baskets.

She finished the game with eight assists to go along with 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.

The Dons (8-2) received good balance in their scoring. Ivette Gil lead the team with 17 points. Dessy Coleman, who was on the receiving end of a Lemus behind-the-back pass in the second quarter, scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds and freshman Amber Melgoza tallied 11 points and hauled in nine boards.

Bonita’s Nikki Wheatley, an athletic 5-7 junior guard who’s drawing interest from UCLA, led all scorers with 24 points.

Stymied by early foul trouble, Wheatley got it going in the third quarter. After Lemus hit a 3-pointer to put the Dons up 44-27, she scored 12 straight points for the Bearcats to narrow the deficit to 50-43 midway through the fourth quarter.

Santa Barbara regrouped, scoring the next five points to push the lead to 12, 55-43 with less than four minutes left.

Bishop Montgomery 56, Harvard Westlake 39

The Knights have a young and talented team, led freshman guard in Sophia Song. She scored 23 points on drives to the basket, outside jumpers and offensive rebounds. She also sets up her teammates for good shots. She assisted on a couple of 3-pointers in the second half.

Song ignited an 8-0 Bishop Montgomery run with a three-point play early in the fourth quarter to essentially put the game out of reach. She finished the game by scoring six of the Knights’ last eight points.

Sophomore Chelsea Lidy added 10 points and Christina Delapina, another sophomore chipped in nine points for the Knighrs (8-1).

Natalie Florescu, who was plagued by foul trouble, scored 11 points and Teeana Contangeo added 10 for Harvard Westlake (5-4).

In other action, Ventura juniors Marki Meyer and Kai Irby combined for 41 points in the Cougars’ win over Mira Costa. Meyer led the way with 23 points and Irby added 18.

Jessica Salottolo scored 13 points to lead a balanced Orange Lutheran attack against Oak Park.

Dos Pueblos got 11 points from Brandy Jimmenez and 10 from Jennifer Wetzel in its win over Pacifica. The Chargers improved to 4-5.

Ashley Ontiveros of Rio Mesa was the high scorer for the day, pouring in 27 points in a 50-45 win over Peninsula.

St. Bonaventure got a 16-point game from Mckenna Hill in its 56-30 win over Santa Monica.

In a Green Division game, San Marcos defeated Palmdale 35-29 behind 14 points from Roxy Sandoval. Ashley Wolfe had 20 points for Palmdale.