TOC: Dons get everyone involved in win over Hanford


Amber Melgoza pumped in 34 points, but it was the contributions from the rest of the Santa Barbara High girls basketball team that made the difference in a 68-36 win over Hanford in the first round of the Santa Barbara Tournament of Champions at J.R. Richards Gym on Friday.

The scoring and defense of Jada Howard, Cassandra Gordon, Jocelin Petatan and Liliana Ponce made things tough for the Central Section Division 1 Bullpups. Howard scored 13 points and had five steals; Gordon, the freshman point guard, enjoyed the best offensive game of her young career with eight points and four assists; Ponce provided solid play off the bench and Petatan was all over the court, scoring six points, handing out five assists, grabbing seven rebounds, making four steals and blocking two shots.

“Jocelin’s had a couple of rough games and today she played very, very well,” Santa Barbara coach Andrew Butcher said. “When she makes good decisions on offense her defense is really good. When she turns the ball over a little on offense, I think she gets a little tentative defensively and it kind of snowballs.”

There was nothing tentative about Petatan’s play on Friday. She battled and made things happen for the 9-0 Dons, who have a second-round matchup with two-time defending state champion Sierra Canyon at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at J.R. Richards Gym.

Santa Barbara High's Amber Melgoza shoots over Hanford's Shay Gibbons. (Presidio Sports Photo)

Santa Barbara High’s Amber Melgoza shoots over Hanford’s Shay Gibbons. (Presidio Sports Photo)

Sierra Canyon, which beat Santa Barbara in the first round en route to the tourney title last year, has two NCAA Division 1 signees in Kennedy Burke (UCLA) and Cheyanne Wallace (Loyola Marymount). The Trailblazers routed Righetti, 67-23, in their tourney opener Friday.

Petatan felt good about her performance against Hanford.

“I think I had a rough start at the beginning of the year, but now I’m starting to mold right in,” she said.

Petatan assisted on a 3-pointer by Gordon that ignited a Santa Barbara 19-4 run in the second quarter that expanded the score to 33-16. Gordon buried a pair of 3-pointers in the run; Howard scored on an offensive rebound and went coast-to-coast after a steal; Kimberly Gebhardt made a nice feed inside to Melgoza for a layup and Melgoza knocked down a trey.

“Today, we tried to get everyone involved and just tried to get everyone to play and I think we did that very well. There was a lot of excitement on the court today,” Petatan said

“(Hanford) graduated some players, so we knew they’d have some kids that weren’t super experienced,” Butcher said. “We figured if we kept the pressure on — and they drove a long way — we thought maybe we could wear them down. I think that helped. But Jocelin was a major part of it.”

Ryalee Howard led Hanford in scoring with eight points. Janelle Sumilong, the team’s leading scorer, was held to six

Gordon showed confidence in her shooting as she knocked down the pair 3-pointers in the second quarter and hit a two-point shot that gave the Dons a 30-point lead (62-32) in the fourth quarter.

Butcher said Gordon has been given a green light, but he added: “As a freshman, there is so much to learn in high school sports and so she’s really starting to get more comfortable.”

Getting so many contributions were pleasing to Butcher.

“That’s the trick,” he said. “You’re going to have strengths — kids that are a little more talented in scoring — but if everyone contributes it gives those players even more of chance to be open or to shine.”

In other action in the Gold Division at Santa Barbara High, Carondelet of Concord pulled away from Buena, 70-52. Guard Vanessa Cruz scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half to lead the Cougars. Aaliyah Staples-West had 17 for Buena. Guard Gabi Nevill scored 21 points, Wallace had 16 and Burke 14 in Sierra Canyon’s win. Katie Campbell scored 17 points to lead Oaks Christian over Orange Lutheran, 46-36.

In other games, Mission Hills of the San Diego Section surprised Bishop Montgomery, 54-46, Ventura routed Clovis North, 53-25, Vista Murrieta beat Newbury Park, 58-47, and Redondo Union crushed St. Joseph 66-16.

Arroyo Grande 43, Bishop Diego 37

The scored was tied at 37 before the Eagles’ 6-1 Ashlyn Herlihy took over down the stretch, scoring six straight points.

Herlihy scored 23 points to lead Arroyo Grande.

“I couldn’t be any more proud than the way the kids played, coming off of finals, and Arroyo Grande is a pretty big school and a good team,” said Bishop coach Jeff Burich.

Hannah Rogers scored 18 points and Jordyn Lilly had 10 to lead Bishop (5-2), which plays against San Marcos at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Thunderhut.

The Cardinals were down by six going into the fourth quarter but they fought back and tied the score at 37-37 with a couple of minutes to go. Then Herlihy took change.

“She’s their best player,”Burich said. “It was good competition for us. The kids played well defensively. I couldn’t ask for more than how hard they played and the way they battled back.”