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In the first quarter, the game was tied three times between Lompoc and St. Joseph girls basketball.

But the Braves clamped down on defense and turned to second chance points – taking control of the game from there and winning 56-44 over the Knights on Friday night at SJHS.

Whenever there was a missed basket, Lompoc’s Bella Robles and Kayla Taylor were underneath the hoop to place the ball back inside. Danielle Morgan also contributed to the Braves’ redemption points by going inside and getting the second-chance baskets.

Before the St. Joseph/Righetti Winter Tournament on Thursday, Lompoc went nearly three weeks without playing a game due to the Thomas fire – now the largest fire in California history as of Friday. Head coach Claudia Terrones said her team looked off against Cupertino in the 54-44 loss on Thursday due to having so much time off because of the fire, but played with a different style of energy against the Knights.

“With the three weeks off, I think a lot of teams have been affected by it,” Terrones said. “We’re still trying to adjust to it. It takes team chemistry. And we’re not quite there yet. But I think we’re seeing a lot of positive things.”

Along with the second-chance points, Morgan – the lone Braves senior – helped spearhead the fast break charge, a common philosophy for Terrones-led teams. Mya Mendoza also got involved on the transition end – including her steal and layup that put the Braves up 20-11.

Lompoc led by double digits for most of the second quarter as the Braves went on a 12-0 run, leading 24-11. However, the Knights ended the second on a run of their own: An 8-0 charge to cut the Lompoc lead to 24-19 at halftime.

In the third, Robles continued to be a force in the paint – drawing contact and still getting the ball inside the net. Robles finished with 13 points.

Morgan, who is in her fourth season on varsity, led the way with 17 points against her mom’s former high school, as Terrones once played for Knights head coach Ed Torres.

The coaches still shared their mutual respect for one another, as both of them chatted and shared jokes in the gym lobby before the game. Terrones says her coaching approach is similar to what Torres likes to do for his own team.

“I love the man,” Terrones said. “He brought me here (to St. Joseph). We went through a lot together – four years here and then two at Hancock. I have all the respect for him and everything that I do and everything that I teach is all because of him.”

The win placed Lompoc at 2-3 overall. St. Joseph fell to 1-5 on the season.

The other Braves who scored were Taylor with nine, Mendoza with eight, Ketera Mangino with six and Leila Richardson with one.

Both teams will now face Hanford High in the final day of the RHS/SJHS tournament – with the Knights taking on the Bullpups at 9 a.m. at SJHS while the Braves will face the traditional Central Section powerhouse at the RHS floor at 3 p.m. 

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Sports Reporter