Coming back from a difficult overtime loss, the Pirates' men's basketball team bounced back with a solid 84-70 victory over visiting Cuesta Wednesday night at the Athletic Event Center. VC's dynamic guard combo of Jacob Alonzo and Isiah Reyes lead the way, each scoring 22 points and each pulling in seven rebounds. Alonzo had four assists in the game and Reyes recorded three steals as Ventura remained atop the Western State Conference North Division, tied with Hancock. Terrell Handy-Johnson netted 15 in the victory.
The teams remained close through the first seven minutes of play with four ties and five lead changes. With the count knotted at 15, Taylor Sturgeon converted an assist by Alonzo into a 3-pointer to begin an 11-4 run by the Pirates (18-8, 6-1) to take a small amount of control. Malcolm Ruff made two free throws to add distance, and Alonzo and Reyes each answered Cougar buckets with drives for two. Dondre Watson made a jumper with 9:43 remaining in the first half to give VC a 26-19 advantage.
Darrell Handy-Johnson had consecutive scores for Ventura before Cuesta used a 10-0 run to take a 33-30 lead with 4:02 remaining. Watson hit a deuce to end the Pirate skid, and Terrell H-J made a pair of charity shots to retake the lead for VC. The Cougars answered with two before Alonzo and Reyes ended the half with two triples, giving Ventura a 40-35 halftime edge.
Terrell H-J took over early in the second half, scoring nine of VC's first 11 points. His Tip in at the 15:26 mark gave the Pirates a 50-42 advantage and Alonzo nailed a shot from range to push the leas to 11 points. Cuesta pulled to within 57-52 midway through the final period, but the Pirates did not break. Reyes hit a free throw, and Alonzo made another three to stretch the lead back to nine, and two more Reyes free shots kept the pace. John Williams' slam dunk with 6:59 on the clock maintained the Ventura lead, and Terrell H-J's old fashioned 3-point play made it a 10-point game, 68-58. Alonzo and Reyes went 10-10 down the stretch at the foul line as the Pirates posted the 84-70 victory.
Williams netted eight points with five rebounds while Ruff had six points and six boards. Sturgeon recorded three blocked shots on the defensive end of the floor.
Ventura will next host Moorpark College on Saturday Feb. 10. Game time is 7:00 pm. It is also the night of the 19th Annual Basketball Barbeque Fundraiser, with tri-tip and chicken dinners being served in the VC Cafeteria beginning at 4:00 pm.