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Girls' basketball: Santa Barbara prevails in Division III

Girls' basketball: Santa Barbara prevails in Division III
Santa Barbara's Amber Melgoza, right, is guarded by Santa Margarita's Zaire Williams in Saturday's Southern California Regional Division III final at Colony High. Melgoza scored 20 points in the Dons' 58-48 victory. (Darryl Washburn / Special to The Times)

Amber Melgoza has been Santa Barbara's leading scorer and rebounder all season and she was once again Saturday night as the Dons held off Santa Margarita, 58-48, to win the Southern California Regional Division III championship at Colony High.

Melgoza, a sophomore forward, had 20 points, eight rebounds and three steals, Desirea Coleman added 15 points and Jada Howard had nine for the top-seeded Dons (30-5), who outscored Santa Margarita 19-5 in the second quarter to take a 30-16 halftime lead.

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Zaire Williams had 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals, Tori Anderson had 13 points and Sheldon Cornwell added 11 points for the third-seeded Eagles (21-14), who pulled to within six points three times late in the fourth quarter but could get no closer.

Kimberly Gebhardt had six points, including four three throws in the final minute to clinch the win for Santa Barbara, which will play Northern Regional champion Modesto Christian for the state title at 2 p.m. next Friday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

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"I knew they were going to be physical and strong, I knew they would have the height advantage and I knew they were going to double- and triple-team me," said Melgoza, who entered the game averaging 22.1 points and 7.9 rebounds. "I like that because it means someone else will be open. They were definitely one of the best teams we've faced."

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