TOC: Dons hold off St. Bonaventure in opener

Santa Barbara almost let a 12-point lead get away in the final minutes and managed to hold off a tough St. Bonaventure team 61-58 Wednesday in an opening-round game of the Santa Barbara girls basketball Tournament of Champions at J.R. Richards Gym.

Senior Ivette Gil poured in 28 points to help the Dons (7-2) advance to a quarterfinal matchup with Bonita on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Bonita defeated Santa Monica 57-42 in a later game.

In other first-day action, Dos Pueblos got outscored 19-7 in the second quarter and fell to Harvard Westlake 54-46 at Sovine Gym. The Chargers play host to Oxnard-Pacifica in a consolation round game at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Top-seeded Orange Lutheran held off Rio Mesa 47-36; No. 2 seeded Bishop Montgomery got 23 points and seven rebounds from Sophia Song in a 75-46 blowout of Pacifica; Oak Park edged Peninsula 42-41; Mira Costa routed Bell-Jeff 66-31 and Ventura overwhelmed Righetti 61-15.

Santa Barbara had its running game in high gear during the first half against St. Bonaventure and built a 16-point lead at 29-12. But the Seraphs, ranked No. 3 in CIF Division 4A, battled back behind the scoring of Jenny Lopez (17 points) and Mckenna Hill (12 points) and some sloppy play by the Dons.

“We got the lead, but we seemed uninterested in winning the game,” Santa Barbara coach Andrew Butcher said of his team’s performance. “They got some tough kids and if don’t play they score baskets, and the game gets close.”

Butcher said he talked to his players about the importance of finishing games.

“I think our kids kind of measured how much time was left and what the score was and exactly how little effort they can put in,” he said. “(St. Bonaventure) is a good team. I’m glad the kids calculated right because if they screwed it up another minute we’d be the losers.”

A standard three-point play and a 3-point basket by Lopez brought St. Bonaventure to within five at 35-30 early in the third quarter.

The Dons’ defense stepped up and forced a couple of steals to spark a 6-0 run, raising their lead to 45-34 with 2:36 left in the third period.

A drive to the basket by Gil and a nifty assist from Alyssa Cosio to Gil gave Santa Barbara a 56-44 lead in the fourth quarter.

But St. Bonaventure wouldn’t go away. It responded with a 3-pointer by Hill and a putback by Lopez to cut the lead to 56-49 with 3:18 to go. Another offensive rebound and basket by Kristen Ondrejko and a jumper by Michelle Conway made it a five-point game (58-53) with 2:18 left.

Santa Barbara’s Melissa Lemus pushed the ball and drew fouls to twice get to the free-throw line, where she made 3 of 4 for 61-53 lead.

The Seraphs came back with a 3-pointer from Conway and Hill followed with a 16-footer to pull within three at 61-58 with 1:02 to go.

The Dons misfired on their next trip down the court, but they got the ball back on a St. Bonaventure a turnover. They ran down the clock with their weave offense before Dessy Coleman drove down the lane for layup. Coleman, however, was called for charging and the basket was nullified with 15 seconds left.

The Dons played good defense in the final seconds and escaped with the narrow win against a quality opponent.

Lemus scored 14 points and Coleman chipped in 12 for Santa Barbara.

Harvard Westlake 54, Dos Pueblos 46

Emi Parker knocked down four 3-pointers for the Chargers in the loss.

Parker and Helen Nam each scored 12 points to lead DP, which trailed by only 12-8 after the first quarter.

Sophomore guard Teeana Contangeo scored 11 points and senior Natalie Florescu added 10, including a pair of 3-pointers, to pace Harvard Westlake.

The Wolverines have a promising freshman in Jordan Brown, who scored nine points, and senior Kathi Bolton-Ford also scored nine points.