In their first appearance in the Athletic Event Center this season, the Pirates' women's basketball team overcame a sluggish second quarter to easily defeat Taft College 81-52 in the opening round of the VC-Kiwanis Tournament of Champions.The Pirates had a balanced attack with six players scoring seven points or more, led by Jasmyne Martin's 20 point performance.
VC (3-1) led wire-to-wire, with Kylie Vint netting the first seven points of the game for the Pirates. Martin's drive and assist to Vint got Ventura on the board, followed by a steal and assist by Davina Del Castillo. On the next possession, Celeste Salazar drove the paint, dishing off to Vint for an old fashioned 3-point play and a 7-0 Pirate lead with 7:51 left in the opening quarter. After a Cougar score, Nikki Puga recorded a steal and lay-up, and Talitha Draper scored inside. Alaina Garcia made a lay-up at the 3:21 mark for a 13-2 Pirate lead. Avery Brunk, in her first action of the season, hit a 3-pointer with 38 seconds on the clock and the Pirates led 20-6 at the end of the first period.
Martin sandwiched a pair of deuces around a Taft 3-pointer and VC led 24-9 with 9:05 remaining in the half. Puga connected for a bucket at the 7:44 mark to maintain the 15-point edge, 25-11, before Taft went on a 13-1 run to close to within 27-24, just over two minutes later. Draper's offensive rebound and putback broke the Pirate skid, and Garcia sank a pair of charity tosses to open up a little breathing room. Garcia's triple with 2:02 on the clock pushed the advantage back to 10, 36-26, and the Pirate led at halftime 36-28.
Ventura slowly pulled away in the third period with their defense leading the way. Del Castillo got things started with a steal and lay-up, and Martin followed with a pair of free throws. Halfway through the period, Puga connected on a drive and lay-up and the Pirates opened up a 44-30 advantage. Elissa Root assisted a Martin lay-up with 3:51 left in the stanza, and Martin hit a 15-footer on the next possession to make the score 49-31. Del Castillo made tow free throws in the final minute of the quarter, and VC led 54-37 at the quarter break.
The Pirates continued their slow and stead ascension in the final period, with a Martin jumper and a triple by Salazar opening up the scoring. After a pair of free throws by the Cougars, Del Castillo hit a lay-up off a Salazar dime and Brunk sank a charity toss for a 62-39 lead. The Pirates kept up the pressure through the final buzzer for the 81-52 victory.
Martin led the balanced attack with 20 points, four rebounds and three assists while Garcia recorded a career-best 14 points. Vint also set a career mark with 10 points and five boards and Puga recorded nine points with three dimes and three thefts. Del Castillo totaled eight points with 11 rebounds and four steals and Draper had seven points and eight boards. Salazar had three assists and three steals while playing an outstanding defensive game, and Melissa Ohmie pulled in five boards with outstanding effort, as well.
The Pirates shot 42 percent from the floor (29-69) while limiting their turnovers to eight, with 13 team assists.
Other results from the tournament Friday included Mt. San Antonio over Santa Monica, 79-53, Canyons over Laney, 76-34, and San Joaquin Delta over Long Beach 75-56.
Ventura advances to the tournament semifinals on Saturday Nov. 25 against College of the Canyons at 7:00 pm. Mt. SAC will face San Joaquin Delta at 5:00 pm in the other semifinal. Both games will be broadcast live on the VC Sports Network.