After a slow start Thursday, the Pirates' women's basketball team revved up the engines in running past Rio Hondo 85-29 in the opening round of the VC-Optimist Club Holiday Tournament. Davina Del Castillo led the way with 21 points, nine rebounds, seven steals and three blocks, but Talitha Draper came off the bench to steal the show with nine points, 11 boards and a pair of blocked shots. VC (11-5) advances to the tournament semifinals against Antelope valley on Friday Dec. 29 at 7:00 pm.
Del Castillo got the Pirates off on the right foot with a jumper from a Jasmyne Martin assist on the opening possession. VC went another three minutes before their next score, however, and Rio Hondo took a 4-2 lead. Kylie Vint cashed in a Celeste Salazar dime on a fast break with 6:30 left in the opening quarter to tie the game at 4-4, and Del Castillo hit a pair of free throws on the next possession to give Ventura the lead. It was another three minutes before Martin hit a 3-pointer from the left corner for a 9-6 advantage. The Pirates led 11-10 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second period, the Pirate Express got revved up. The teams traded baskets before Salazar and Del Castillo hit back-to-back triples to put the Pirates ahead 19-12 with 7:51 remaining. Nikki Puga followed with a steal and lay-up, and Draper hit a pair of charity shots to extend the lead to nine points 40 seconds later. Vint hit a jumper from the left baseline at the 6:22 on the clock to make the score 25-16. After a two minute scoring drought, Del Castillo, Avery Brunk, Martin and Vint scored on consecutive possessions to break the game open. Elissa Root used a Salazar helper to convert a 3-pointer from the right corner and the lead was 20. Del Castillo hit a pair of free shots just before the buzzer and VC led at halftime, 38-16.
The Pirates continued the run after intermission, scoring 21 of the first 24 points of the third period. Martin sandwiched a pair of driving lay-ups around two Salazar free throws, then Salazar and Melissa Ohmie scored on consecutive trips down the floor. A Roadrunner 3-pointer ended a 25-0 Pirate run around halftime, but Ohmie started another run with a fast-break lay-up from a Martin pass. Alaina Garcia made it a 40-point game, 59-19, with a triple at the 1:45 mark, and Ventura led at the quarter break, 62-23.
VC continued to pull away in the final stanza, including three straight treys, two from Del Castillo around one from Martin midway through the period. Another Garcia three set the final margin at 85-29.
Six Pirates netted eight points or more in the game, and all 10 players who saw action scored. Martin was the only Pirate other than Del Castillo to hit double figures with 16 points, three assists and two blocks. Salazar finished with nine points and six dimes while Garcia also had nine points. Vint finished with eight points.
As a team, Ventura recorded 12 blocked shots, tying a program record that was set in January, 1991 against Cuesta.
Other scores in the tournament from Thursday included LA Valley over Irvine Valley 72-57, Mt. San Jacinto over Allan Hancock 80-49, and Antelope Valley over Orange Coast, 80-69. Friday's consolation match-ups feature Irvine Valley and Allan Hancock at 1:00 pm and Orange Coast versus Rio Hondo at 3:00 pm. The tournament semifinals include Mt. San Jacinto against LA Valley at 5:00 pm and the Pirates hosting Antelope Valley at 7:00 pm.