The Pirates' men's basketball team made a strong comeback but fell a bit short in Saturday's finale of the We Play Hard Tip-Off Tournament sponsored by the James Ennis Foundation. Ventura trailed by as many as nine points in the final five minutes, and were down eight with 1:17 on the clock before closing the gap to a single possession in the final seconds of the game. Timothy Turner led VC (1-2) with 20 points while Tone Patton produced a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
AFter an early 2-2 tie, the Pirates fell behind 8-2 three minutes into the game. A three by Tito Mendez, a Patton lay-up, and two drives for scores by Turner knotted the game at 11 at the 13:04 mark of the first half. Mendez then connected on a 3-point play and VC led 14-13. Turner followed with a thunderous dunk to open up a three point advantage with 10:44 on the clock.
Both teams cooled off considerably at that point. Four minutes later, a pair of Turner charity tosses made it 18-16 for VC before the Marauders hist three triples in a span of 25 seconds to reassert control. A pair of Patton free shots and a drive and score by Turner cut the deficit to 25-21 at the 5:52 mark, but AVC countered with another trey. Ventura kept up the pressure however, pulling to within one point three more times before halftime. VC trailed 33-32 at the break.
Ventura opened the second half on a 9-2 run with a deuce from Turner and a three and two by Dayveon Bates sandwiched around a bucket by Patton. The Pirates hled a 41-35 lead three minutes into the period. The Marauders came storming back, however, with a 13-0 run over the next 3:18 to take the lead for good. Back-to-back threes by Patton and Turner closed the gap to 48-47 with 12:29 remaining, and Turner's easy basket at the 10:29 mark made it 52-50 for AVC.
Down the stretch, every Pirate run was met with a response from Antelope Valley. But the Pirates kept up the fight to the end. VC trailed 64-55 with 4:18 on the clock, and after both teams went scoreless for the next 2:30, Thomas Dangerfield hit a three from the right corner to give the Pirates a spark. Jacob Berry answered an AVC bucket with a three, and after a 10-second back court call forced by the Pirate defense, Turner followed with a pair fo free throws to close the margin to 66-63 with 46 seconds remaining. On the next possession, the Ventura defense held fast until the very end when the Marauders banked in a 3-pointer at the shot clock buzzer to put the game away with 13 seconds left.
Mendez finished the night with nine points and a pair of assists while Lamont Landers handed out five dimes. The Pirates shot 50 percent from the floor (21-42) but 19 turnovers and a 56 percent performance at the free throw line (13-25), helped establish the result.
VC next travels to the Irvine Valley Classic on Nov. 15-17. They will take on Cuyamaca in the opening round at 1:00 pm on Thursday Nov. 15.