It was a Merry Christmas indeed for the Pirates' women's basketball team, and they returned from their short hiatus in top form Wednesday night with a strong 88-34 victory over Rio Hondo in the first round of the VC-Optimist Club Holiday Tournament at the Athletic Event Center. VC (11-5) had four players over 15 points in the game, led by Kyleesha Green's 20-point, six assist performance. Sienna Brown had her fourth double-double of the season with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
The game was over almost before it started as the Pirates scored on their first five possessions of the game, and on 10 of the first 11 possessions opening up a 28-1 advantage in the first nine minutes of play. Rhiana Dougan connected on the first of her five 3-pointers on a pass from Green just 12 seconds in, and then assisted Katie Campbell's triple on the next possession. Brown connected on a jumper, Green scored a transition lay-up, and Dougan connected again from range to make it 13-0 with 7:38 on the clock. By the time Green drove to the bucket for a score with 1:05 remaining, the Pirates opened up a 28-1 advantage. Rio Hondo scored a bucket on the final play of the period to trail 28-3 at the quarter break.
The Roadrunners made a mini-run to start the second quarter with back-to-back threes, but Brown, Green and Dougan combined for a 10-0 run over the next two minutes to seal the deal. VC continued the steady climb away from Rio Hondo throughout the second quarter, posting a 53-16 halftime lead.
The Pirates cooled off considerably to begin the second half, shooting 2-14 from the floor before Celeste Salazar nailed a triple from the left corner. That bucket at the 4:02 mark of the third quarter began a 21-0 Ventura run that culminated in VC's largest lead of the game, 58 points, on a Brown jumper off an assist by Dougan making the score 80-22 with 6:52 left in the game. The Pirates rode away with the 88-34 win to advance to the tournament semifinals.
Green also added six rebounds and three steals to her performance and Brown had a pair of blocked shots. Campbell had 19 points, seven assists and two steals while Dougan finished with 15 points, five boards, four helpers and three thefts. Davina Del Castillo overcame a difficult offensive night with seven rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and three steals. Paige Larson came off the bench to contribute three points and three rebounds.
Ventura advances to Thursday's semifinal against Irvine Valley College, who defeated Antelope Valley 55-45. The Pirates and lasers will tip off at 7:00 pm at the Athletic Event Center.
Other tournament scores included LA Valley over 2015 tournament champion Mt. San Jacinto 81-74 and Orange Coast over Allan Hancock 86-48. Thursday's other match-ups will include Hancock against Mt. San Jacinto at 1:00 pm, Rio Hondo versus Antelope Valley at 3:00 pm and LA Valley and Orange Coast at 5:00 pm.