GBK: Dons wear down Buena for Gold Coast title, 88-55

Alondra Jimenez scored a season-high 20 points for Santa Barbara in the Gold Coast Tournament championship game. (John Dvorak/Presidio Sports Photo)

Alondra Jimenez scored a season-high 20 points for Santa Barbara in the Gold Coast Tournament championship game. (John Dvorak/Presidio Sports Photo)

Amber Melgoza took a hard knock on her forehead in a collision with a Buena player, but not before knocking down a season-high 37 points in Santa Barbara High’s 88-55 win over Channel League rival Buena in the championship game of the Gold Coast Tournament on Saturday at the San Marcos Thunderhut.

Melgoza was in a lot of pain after bumping heads with Buena’s Minaya Parker in a battle for a loose ball midway through the fourth quarter. Both players went down, and the blow left a large welt on Melgoza’s forehead.

“It was a clean play and they were both going after the ball,” Santa Barbara coach Andrew Butcher said. “Amber is a tough kid, so whenever she comes off the court complaining you know she had some pain.”

When she went to the bench to receive treatment, the Dons were in the midst of a 31-6 run after Buena pulled to within eight points, 57-49, late in the third quarter.

Melgoza and the Dons (7-0) gave Buena a headache in the first half. She scored 27 points, helping Santa Barbara opened up a 45-36 advantage.

“Her teammates were very unselfish today. They recognized some things Buena was giving us and we kept going to it,” said Butcher.

The Washington-bound Melgoza made 17 of 29 shots on the night, including 3 of 5 on 3-pointers. She also had six rebounds and six steals. She was named the tournament MVP.

Sophomores Alondra Jimenez and Cassandra Gordon enjoyed big nights. Jimenez, an all-tournament team selection, scored 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Gordon handed out nine assists and scored six points.

“She’s really leaps and bounds ahead of where she was last year,” said Butcher of Gordon. “It’s fun to see the kids put in the effort and improve.”

Parker led Buena (7-1) with 17 points.

Santa Barbara, which rotated lineups throughout its three previous tournament wins, was a lot fresher in the final and wore down Buena in the fourth quarter. The 88 points were a season-high for the Dons.

“Part of it was they had a really tough bracket down there (at Rio Mesa), so I think their kids ran out of gas,” Butcher said. “Four games in four straight days is hard, so that kind of gave us an advantage. The fact we were able to sub the other games and give our starters a lot of rest helped us in that game.”

The Dons got quality minutes from Rose Nadis, Demi Jimenez, Liliana Ponce and Jackie Tran off the bench.

“It’s nice to see younger players that work very, very hard go out and score points and do good things.”

Once again, Santa Barbara set the tone with its defense. The Dons had 20 steals.

“That’s effort, and the kids are putting the effort in. We can’t ask for a lot more than that,” said Butcher.

It was the fourth straight Gold Coast title for the Dons.


MVP—Amber Melgoza, Santa Barbara
Alondra Jimenez, Santa Barbara
Minaya Parker, Buena
Skyler Ramos, Buena
Riley Seger, Lompoc
Bridgette Smith, Rio Mesa
Zaria McCollum, Centennial
Celeste Salazar, Pacifica
Felesha Dean, Independence