The Pirates opened up a 15-1 lead early, then stumbled through the rest of the game Thursday, holding off Irvine Valley 66-58 in the semifinals of the VC-Optimist Club Holiday Tournament at the Athletic Event Center. Katie Campbell had 23 points, four steals and three blocked shots to lead the way while Rhiana Dougan netted 17 points on the night. VC (12-5) advances to the championship game for the eight time in the eight-year history of the tournament.
For the second straight night, Ventura got off to a sizzling start. Dougan hit a three on the opening play of the game from an assist by Kyleesha Green to get things started, and then made a fast-break lay-up to make it 5-0 inside the first minute. Davina Del Castillo turned a steal into two points and Campbell nailed a triple to make it 10-0 with 7:22 still remaining in the first quarter. After an Irvine Valley free throw, Green assisted another Dougan lay-up, and Sienna brown assisted a Dougan trey and the Pirates were ahead 15-1.
The Lasers were not fazed, however, and began a slow and steady comeback. IVC scored eight straight points while the Pirates missed four straight shots with a turnover.Brown's jumper at the 2:52 mark ended the skid, and Melissa Ohmie hit a pair of close shots to turn back the tide, temporarily. VC maintained a 21-11 lead as the quarter drew to a close, but the Pirates gave up a deuce and a three in the final minute of play to go into the quarter break with a 23-16 lead.
Ventura continued to struggle through the second period as IVC used a five-minute, 14-4 run to tie the game at 30 with 3:09 left in the half. Dougan and Campbell each had lay-ups down the stretch and VC went into halftime ahead 34-30.
The Pirates scored the first five points of the third quarter, a three form Campbell and a lay-up by Del Castillo, to open up a little breathing room. Irvine answered with a pair of buckets, and the Ventura maintained the lead between four and eight points for the remainder of the period. Campbell and brown scored at the end of the quarter to make the score 50-42 for the Pirates.
VC somehow found an answer to every Laser charge in the final period, including a nice reverse lay-up by Celeste Salazar with 7:38 on the clock to make it a 10-point game, 56-46. Campbell continued her strong play throughout the game, and Dougan re-ignited some offense down the stretch as well as VC held off Irvine for the 66-58 victory.
Green handed out a game-high eight assists and Del Castillo had eight points, six rebounds and seven steals. melissa Ohmie came off the bench with six points and five boards.
Other tournament action Thursday saw Mt.San Jacinto hold off Allan Hancock 76-73 and Antelope Valley come back to defeat Rio Hondo 51-46 in overtime. LA Valley defeated orange Coast 81-66 in the other semifinal.
Games Friday include Mt. San Jacinto against Antelope Valley at 2:00 pm, Orange Coast versus Irvine Valley at 4:00 pm, and Ventura and LA Valley matching up in the championship game at 6:00 pm. All games Friday will be streamed live on the VC Sports Network sponsored by Joe Kapp Real Estate and the Crowne Plaza Ventura Beach.