Both teams were on a quest for their first CIF title. “We were prepared, but we weren’t hungry enough to go get the win. They wanted it more,” said senior Captain Kianna Williams of Lakeside.
The Lakeside Lancers (23-6) advanced the furthest of any Lakeside team, but were unable to stop sophomore Amber Melgoza and the Santa Barbara Dons (26-5) from bringing home their first CIF title. Melgoza scored 36 to help the Lady Dons down the Lancers 67-43 in the Division 3AA CIF Southern Section Girls Basketball Championships, presented by Farmers. “We watched a lot of film this week and worked hard on boxing out and beating the press,” said Melgoza, “They really tested our mental and physical toughness.”
“Either team had a chance to get into foul trouble because both teams are very aggressive defensively, so we felt that the team that had the fewest foul trouble would prevail,” said Santa Barbara coach Andrew Butcher, “We needed to control the defensive boards and when their star #33 [Kianna Williams] was in the game, we needed to contain her; for the most part, her shots were tough shots.”
Williams hit a deep jump shot and followed up with two free throws to open up a 4-1 lead for Lakeside. There were five lead changes in the first half, but the Lady Dons went on a 12-0 run over the final five minutes to end the half ahead 27-16. Williams also picked up her third foul with 1:36 left. After a rough start, Melgoza settled into a rhythm; she had 14 points in the first half, including a three to start the run and the last six points of the run.
In the third quarter, Victoria Sosa scored eleven of her team’s fifteen points. Melgoza scored sixteen of Santa Barbara’s 22 to open a 49-31 lead and bring her game total to 30. Lakeside guard Maia Crawley (4 pts, 2 rebounds, 2 steals) fouled out. Williams had also picked up her fourth foul.
In the final period, Williams executed a beautiful spin drive to the basket to make the score 53-33; she subsequently fouled out running into a screen with 6:46 left in the game. Santa Barbara outscored Lakeside 18-12 down the stretch.
Sosa led the Lady Lancers with 17 points, nine rebounds, and two blocked shots. Kianna Williams added nine points and five rebounds. Younger sister Marissa Williams had seven points and four rebounds.
Melgoza added nine rebounds and three steals to her 36 points. She shot 51.7% from the floor and was 5-of-6 from the charity stripe.
Santa Barbara had a 22-11 free throw advantage on a 22-14 foul total. They also scored 21 points off of turnovers compared to Lakeside’s 10. Lakeside committed 21 turnovers.
“The girls have battled all year, they’ve been undersized most games, but fight through that, they just came up short today,” said Lakeside coach Anthony Williams, “They out worked us tonight. That is a good team and that girl [Melgoza] is a tough match-up. She was feeling it tonight. That was their best tonight and it wasn’t our best. I think if we show up with our best, we get them.”
“They’re a tough team. They didn’t play characteristically, certainly fouls had an effect,” said Butcher, “but if we play them again in state, it’s a coin flip.”
“We’ve played hard all year,” said Kianna Williams, “I won’t let this loss define me.” The Lancers are hoping for a berth in the State Regionals; the first game would be Wednesday. There is a chance they could meet Santa Barbara again. “I can’t wait,” said Williams.