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Santa Barbara is back in the mix for the Channel League girls basketball title race.

In a pivotal league showdown between first and second place teams in the league standings, the Dons pulled out the 59-45 victory on Thursday night at Santa Ynez – elevating their league record to 6-2, which now mirrors the Pirates’ league mark.

And the contest became a game of runs.

The visiting Dons – who entered this league battle by sharing the same identical overall record with the Pirates at 13-10 – first leaped out to a 20-6 lead during the second quarter. Santa Barbara forced the Pirates into some early miscues; from turnovers to missed scoring opportunities including a wide open layup attempt by Grace Padilla that rolled off the rim.

But then the Pirates ignited.

Padilla became a force in the paint and helped lead the scoring charge. Sharpshooter Malia Loos banked a key 3-pointer and Lita Wright established herself as a key element in the rebounding game.

All those ingredients mixed into an astonishing 32-13 run for the home team.

But as SYHS head coach Jason Finley pointed out, youthful mistakes began to set in for the home team.

“The problem for us is that we’re young. We got a little tired. We also started to play a little selfish. When we kind of closed the door and took the lead, we were playing as a team. And then when the pressure got too much, we had girls trying to put too much on themselves,” Finley said.

The Dons started to knock down open 3-point opportunities and draw contact underneath the basket for the points and foul. After falling behind 38-33, the Dons went on to outscore the Pirates (13-11 overall) 26-7 the rest of the night.

“They (SBHS) started knocking down 3’s and we weren’t closing out,” Finley said. “They played the better game tonight. They had the better shooting night. But we were able to still compete with them and we showed people we belonged. We’re going to continue to close this out.”

Padilla finished with 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Loos knocked down three 3-pointers to end her evening with nine points. Wright finished with seven. No one else scored past two points for SYHS.

Santa Ynez now finds itself in this scenario: The Pirates must win out and have the Dons lose once to clinch the outright Channel League title. Both teams share the championship if the end the season at 8-2 in the final league standings.

Overall, a loss like this, Finley says, is an educational lesson for the Pirates.

“For our younger girls, it teaches them that you can never take a lead and think it’s secured. And at the same time, you just can’t let down,” Finley said. “You’ve got to keep grinding until the end. Once you take care of that, you’ll learn.”

Santa Ynez will have a rare Monday night game on the road against Lompoc, which takes place at 7 p.m.

Boys basketball

Mission Prep 58, Pioneer Valley 34

Max Rowley hit three 3-pointers en route to scoring 13 points and the Royals (11-12, 4-3) beat the Panthers (4-20, 1-7) in a Mountain League game at Pioneer Valley.

Steven Fuerte led Pioneer Valley with 11 points.

The Panthers' lone Mountain League win thus far came via forfeit by the Royals earlier in the season.

Arroyo Grande 68, Righetti 36

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Gage Gomez led the Eagles with 18 points while Bryan Smith added 16. Robert Hutchens chipped in 10 for Arroyo Grande.

Damian Simon led the Warriors with 13 points.

Girls soccer

Lompoc 1, Santa Barbara 0

The Braves got the crucial road win against the Dons on Thursday night in a game that was played at San Marcos High.

Lisa Bueno hit, what LHS head coach Jason Cochrane illustrated, as an open field rocket from 30 yards out that hit the back of the net.

The win moved LHS to 3-1-3 overall in the Channel League with a rain makeup contest coming this Saturday against San Marcos. The contest will be played at Huyck Stadium at 2 p.m.

Girls wrestling

Pioneer Valley scores league title

Different league, same result.

In its first season in the CIF Central Section, and the Central Coast Athletic Association, the Pioneer Valley girls wrestling team once again rolled to a league championship.

The Panthers scored 216 points to runner-up Santa Maria's 115 at the Central Coast Athletic Association Meet at Santa Maria's Wilson Gym Wednesday night. Pioneer Valley rolled to another league title pretty much the way it did when the Panthers were roaring through the Central Coast League as members of the Southern Section,

Though the league has a different name, the CCAA league meet consisted of a lot of the same teams who were in the Central Coast League when the programs were in the Southern Section.

Most of the area athletic programs moved to the Central Section earlier this year.

Righetti finished third in the seven-team field with 85 points. Morro Bay was fourth with 76, Nipomo was fifth with 74, San Luis Obispo finished sixth with 23 and Arroyo Grande was seventh with 14.

The Panthers had nine individual weight class champions, including six of the seven lower weights champs.

Pioneer Valley's winners in the lower weights were Patty Camillo (5-1 decision in the 101-pound title match), Jisalla Alvear (5-0 decision at 106), Cynthia Rodriguez (pin in 2:21 at 116), Arieli Gomez (pin in 3:25 at 121), Mya Velasquez (4-1 decision at 126) and Dulce Garcia (3-0 decision at 132).

Righetti's Gabby Rincon earned an 8-0 major decision to win the 111-pound title.

In the upper weights, Morro Bay's Hazel Sunnarborg took the 138-pound championship with a pin in 2:30; Lizette Pompa of Pioneer Valley racked up a come-from-behind pin in 5:01 at 145; Leila Martin of Nipomo took the 152-pound title with an 8-6 decision; and Pioneer Valley's Anayeli Mendoza won at 160 with a pin in 1:11;

The last three title matches ended with pins. Samantha Wolff of Nipomo won with a stop at 1:42 in the 171-pound championship match. Shanyce Valadez of Righetti notched a pin in 1:11 to win at 189, and Pioneer Valley's Liz Valencia racked up a pin in 1:08 at 220.

Santa Maria had four runner-ups: Adriana Sanchez at 101 pounds, Erika Sierra at 106, Laura Negrete at 189 and Ana Duran at 220.

Area teams will compete at the CIF Central Section Area Meet at Lemoore next Friday and Saturday. Pioneer Valley won the Southern Section Northern Regional championship each of the several years it was held before area squads moved to the Central Section. 

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