Pirate sophomore Davina Del Castillo turned in her best offensive performance of the season with 20 points, and freshman Alaina Garcia made three key 3-pointers to lead VC's women's basketball team to a 64-48 victory over Antelope Valley in the quarterfinals of the Tom Gilcrest Invitational Friday in Visalia. Jasmyne Martin totaled 17 points and Nikki Puga hit for nine as the Pirates (6-2) moved to the semifinals of the toughest tournament in the state.
The first quarter remained close throughout with the Pirates taking the early advantage with a steal and bucket by Martin with an assist by Del Castillo, who followed with a pair of free throws for a 4-0 VC edge. The Marauders came back to tie the game at 4-4 when Kylie Vint hit a 15-footer from a dime by Puga. Del Castillo hit a trailing 3-pointer for a 9-6 advantage before AVC hit their own shot from range for the third tie of the period. Ventura closed with buckets by Del Castillo and Martin for a 13-9 lead at the quarter break.
Martin and Del Castillo opened the scoring for Ventura in the second quarter, stretching the lead to 17-9. Antelope Valley scored the next seven points, however, closing to within 17-16 when Puga hit from beyond the arc off a pass from Celeste Salazar for a 20-16 Pirate margin with 6:02 remaining in the half. Del Castillo then had back-to back scores and Garcia hit a 3-pointer as Ventura led 27-16 with 2:31 on the clock. The Marauders scored five straight points before Martin netted a runner at the buzzer for a 29-21 halftime lead for the Pirates.
Ventura went cold to start the second half, missing their first six shots with a pair of turnovers. Antelope Valley, on the other hand, heated up, scoring 12 straight points to go ahead 33-29. Puga stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer with 5:22 left in the period, and Garcia hit two triples on consecutive trips down the court to put VC ahead for good 38-33. The Pirates led 43-36 at the end of the third quarter.
The Pirates pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring AVC 17-4 over the first six minutes of the period. Del Castillo got things started with a field goal on the first possession of the stanza, followed by a charity toss from Vint and Del Castillo's 3-point play. Martin then connected for back-to-back scores and the Pirates led 53-40 at the 6:54 mark. Vint connected on another long jumper with an assist from Puga, and Martin scored a lay-up and a 3-pointer for a 60-40 lead with 4:31 remaining in the game. In the end, Larryssa Russell connected for her first score of the season and Ventura posted the 64-48 victory.
Del Castillo added eight rebounds to her point total along with three steals and two assists. Martin pulled in six boards with a pair of steals and Puga handed out four dimes with two thefts. Melissa Ohmie recorded five rebounds in the game. Salazar dished out three assists and had an outstanding defensive game, as well.
The Pirates advance to the semifinals of the Gilcrest Tournament for the second straight season. They will play the host College of the Sequoias Giants at 8:00 pm on Saturday in Visalia. The other semifinal at 6:00 pm features LA Valley and Mt. SAC.