The VC women's basketball team opened up a big lead in the second quarter, and cruised to a 75-60 victory over Reedley College Thursday afternoon at the Tom Gilcrest Invitational at College of the Sequoias in Visalia. Jasmyne Martin led four Pirates in double figures with 18 points while Davina Del Castillo and Nikki Puga each netted 13. Talitha Draper contributed 12 in the victory for Ventura (5-2).
The teams traded punches in the opening quarter. Ventura fell behind 5-2 early, and Martin's 3-point play tied the score with 8:12 on the clock. Draper assisted a Del Castillo lay-up to put the Pirates ahead 9-8, and Puga extended the lead with a short jumper on the next possession. The Tigers tied the game at 15-15 at the 3:50 mark before Celeste Salazar and Martin connected on back-to-back lay-ups to put Ventura ahead for good. Salazar followed that up with a 3-pointer and the Pirates led 22-16 at the end of the quarter.
The Pirates took control early in the second quarter, scoring on seven of their first eight possessions. Puga assisted a back-door lay-up by Martin, then hit the three-ball with a helper by Salazar. Kylie Vint hit a jumper, and Puga connected from range again. Martin then hit a pair of charity tosses and Avery Brunk assisted a lay-up by Del Castillo. The Pirates ended the run with two free throws by Del Castillo and led 38-18 with 7:02 left in the half. VC went scoreless for the next two-plus minutes, but so did the Tigers. Martin and Draper connected with scores to complete a 27-3 run putting the Pirates firmly in charge. VC led 48-25 at halftime.
Ventura continued to stretch the advantage in the second half. Del Castillo scored a deuce and a triple to make it 53-25 a minute into the period. THe Pirates went cold offensively for the next four minutes, but the defense held Reedley to a single free throw during that span. Elissa Root connected for a three off of Draper's dime halfway through the third period to break the skid. Puga's third triple of the day made it 61-28 for the Pirates' biggest lead of the night with 3:17 left in the stanza. VC led 65-36 at the end of three periods.
With the big lead, the Pirates seemed to let off the accelerator a bit as the final quarter began, and Reedley took full advantage. The Tigers scored five straight points, completing a 9-0 run across the quarter break before Martin made a lay-up with 7:14 left to play. Reedley score eight of the next 10 points to trim the VC lead to 69-50 when Draper hit two free shots and Garcia completed an old-fashioned 3-point play. Reedley closed on a 10-1 run before the Pirates claimed the 75-60 win.
Puga had three assists and two steals to add to her point total, and Del Castillo pulled in six rebounds with three steals. Draper and Vint each totaled nine boards and Martin corralled seven caroms.
The Pirates move into the 16-team tournament's quarterfinals against Antelope Valley. The Pirates and Marauders will tip off on Friday Dec. 1 at 5:00 pm.