The VC men's basketball team took to the hardwoods for the first time in 2019, coming up short against Riverside and former Pirate head coach Phil Mathews, 88-78. Keron Bailey led the balanced Ventura attack with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds while Jelani Bell had 16 points, four assists and four boards for coach Joey Ramirez's squad. Ramirez and VC assistant Lester Neal both played for Mathews when he directed the Pirates in the early 1990's.
The Pirates (8-7) claimed the first two minutes of the contest as Tone Patton scored on a 3-point play and another inside bucket. The Tigers came roaring back, however, with a 10-1 run to take the lead barely five minutes into play. Thomas Dangerfield score a lay-up off a Bailey assist to make it 10-8 for RCC before five quick points by the Tigers extended the advantage. Riverside completed an 11-3 run with 12:10 remaining in the first half to up their lead to double digits, 21-11, and despite VC's solid 46 percent shooting effort in the opening 20 minutes, Riverside continued to extend its lead shooting 52 percent from the floor. VC also turned the ball over 10 times in the opening 20 minutes, leading to their 48-30 halftime deficit.
Riverside opened the second half with two quick threes, but the Pirates were not deterred. They kept up the fight, and 3-pointer by Bailey, and a free throw by Dayveon Bates pulled VC back to within 56-36 at the 16:26 mark. Dangerfield hit from range, and bailey had a dunk to make it a 16-point deficit, and Lamont Landers' jumper closed a 10-4 Pirate run to make the score 63-48 with 11:02 remaining. RCC answered with their own mini run, but VC kept up the fight, with Bell's bucket at the 8:16 mark making it 68-57.
Riverside seemed to have an answer for each Pirate charge, however, and VC could not break the deficit into single digits until Bailey's trey made it 79-70 with 3:18 left. Bell followed with a jumper, and Dangerfield hit a lay-up to cut the Tigers lead to five, 79-74, prompting a RCC timeout with 2:25 on the clock. From that point, the Pirates seemed to run out of energy from chasing the Tigers. RCC hit the big shots down the stretch as Ventura fell by a final count of 88-78.
Patton finished with 13 points and five rebounds while Dangerfield and Landers each netted 10. Bates finished the game with seven points.
Ventura has a quick turnaround as they head to Riverside Saturday Jan. 5 to take on Fullerton in a 12:00 pm game to finish the crossover tournament. The Hornets defeated Moorpark earlier in the evening at the Athletic Event Center.