The Pirates' women's basketball team led El Camino for a grand total of 3:06 out of the 40 minutes Wednesday afternoon, but most importantly, they led at the final buzzer. In a game that could be compared to an ugly Christmas sweater, Jasmyne Martin hit a 3-pointer with 40 seconds remaining to give Ventura (10-5) a 39-36 victory over the Warriors in the consolation final of the Coast Christmas Classic in Costa Mesa. Davina Del Castillo had another double-double animal style with 10 points and 13 rebounds to earn all-tournament honors.
One day after turning in their best offensive performance in years, the Pirates turned in one of their worst, hitting just 22 percent of their field goal attempts (11-49). The Ventura defense held its own, however, setting a new season mark for least points allowed, keeping the Warriors 25 points below their season average.
The game started out promising enough as Martin scored on a drive on the Pirates' opening possession of the game. VC went four-plus minutes without a score after that, falling behind 6-2 at the 5:48 mark of the first quarter. El Camino slowly pulled away for the remainder of the stanza and Ventura trailed 15-9 at the quarter break.
Martin scored a jumper at the 8:23 mark of the second period before ECC reeled off seven straight points to hold a 22-11 advantage at the 6:22 mark. Alaina Garcia hit a step-back triple from the right side to end a four minute scoreless drought with 4;03 left in the first half. That began a 9-2 Pirate run to close the period that included a Del Castillo free throw, another Martin deuce, another step back score from Garcia, and a free shot by Kylie Vint. VC trailed El Camino 24-20 at halftime.
Ventura hit just one field goal and six free throws in the third quarter, but the Pirates gained ground as El Camino could muster just six points in the period. Melissa Ohmie turned an offensive rebound into a bucket with 5:16 on the clock to give VC a 25-24 advantage, but the Warriors answered 10 seconds later with a three to retake the lead. Del Castillo hit a pair of charit shots to tie the game at 27 before the Warriors used an old-fashioned 3-point play to return the margin to three points. A free throw by Celeste Salazar made the score 30-28 at the end of the quarter.
Things did not look good for the Pirates when El Camino hit a 3-pointer to extend their lead to 33-28 with 8:39 left in the game. Salazar provided an immediate answer, however, converting an Ohmie assist into a triple to maintain the deficit. ECC hit another three midway through the period, but Del Castillo had another answer for the Pirates with her own trey, assisted by Elissa Root. Del Castillo then hit two free throws with 3:39 remaining to tie the score, setting up the last-minute heroics. VC missed two shots to take the lead, but got a pair of offensive rebounds, by Del Castillo and Ohmie, before Ohmie hit Martin at the top of the key for the game-winner with 40 seconds remaining. The Warriors got off three attempts to tie, but none fell, preserving the Pirate victory.
Salazar finished the game with eight points, three blocks and a pair of steals while Ohmie pulled down nine rebounds, including the key offensive board to set up the game-winner.
The Pirates head to their Christmas break with a record of 10-5. They will host the 9th Annual VC-Optimist Club Holiday Tournament Dec. 28-30 at the Athletic Event Center. Games on Thursday Dec. 28 include Irvine Valley and Los Angeles Valley at 1:00 pm, Mt. San Jacinto and Allan Hancock at 3:00 pm, Orange Coast versus Antelope Valley at 5:00 pm, and VC hosting Rio Hondo at 7:00 pm.