A slow start Sunday held the Pirates' men's basketball team back against Cerritos Sunday in the third place game of the Kirby Manon Pepsi / Wyndham Hotel Tournament at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia. VC fell behind 8-0 in the early going and never recovered in dropping a 76-67 decision to the Falcons. Isaac Ramirez netted 23 points, including seven 3-pointers, and Jacob Alonzo added 16 for the Pirates (10-6) in the loss.
The Falcons jumped out to the early lead in the first three minutes before Darrell Handy-Johnson got Ventura on the board with a free throw at the 16:48 mark of the first half. Ramirez followed with his first of seven threes in the game and the Pirates trailed 8-4. That was as close as the Pirates would get for a while as Cerritos extended their advantage to 21-9 midway through the period. Ramirez hit a couple more from downtown to keep Ventura in the game as VC battled back to within 37-34 on a Lamont Landers lay-up with 1:03 left in the half. Cerritos scored the final four points of the period, however, and VC trailed 41-34 at intermission.
Ramirez started the second half with two more triples, and Alonzo added a deuce to maintain the four-point deficit. Then Ramirez and Taylor Sturgeon splashed back-to-back 3-pointers to give Ventura its first lead 48-46, with 13:42 remaining in the game. Unfortunately, Cerritos responded with a 9-2 run over he next two minutes, but Alonzo's personal 5-0 run put VC back ahead 57-55 with 9:36 on the clock. After a time out, Cerritos regrouped for a 10-0 run, one from which the Pirates could not recover. Sturgeon hit a couple of jumpers and Dondre Watson hit from range, and another Ramirez trey brought Ventura to within 68-67 at the 3:29 mark, but the deficit proved to be too much for the Pirates. The Falcons scored the final eight points of the game in the 76-67 result.
Sturgeon added nine points and five rebounds to the Pirate attack, and Alonzo handed out six assists in the game.
The Pirates will travel to LA Valley on Thursday Dec. 21 before heading to Riverside on Saturday Dec. 30 to close out 2017. They will return home on Thursday Jan. 4 against Canyons.