Davina Del Castillo posted another double double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Kylie Vint added 12 points and six boards as the VC women's basketball team survived their match-up with Antelope Valley 53-50 in the semifinals of the VC-Optimist Club Holiday Tournament Friday at the Athletic Event Center. Nikki Puga added seven points, including a key 3-pointer late in the game as Ventura advanced to the Optimist Tournament final for the ninth straight year.
In a feast or famine season on the offensive end of the court, it was more famine for the Pirates against the Marauders. VC took over three minutes to get on the scoreboard against the Marauders, a Del Castillo 3-pointer, and didn't hit their second shot, a triple by Celeste Salazar, for another two minutes. But at the time, however, the Pirates led AVC 6-4. An old-fashioned 3-point play and another bucket by Vint, and a free throw from Talitha Draper tied the score at 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Ventura did not score a field goal for nearly six minutes in the second quarter, netting points on six free throws during that span, two each from Jasmyne Martin, Vint and Salazar. Vint finally hit the Pirates' first bucket of the stanza at the 4:15 mark and was fouled, converting another and-one, and the Pirates led 23-20. A charity shot by Elissa Root, and another score by Vint opened up a six-point advantage with 2:46 left in the half. Del Castillo made a deuce and a trey down the stretch and the Pirates led 31-27 at halftime.
VC tried to open the game up a bit in the third quarter. Martin got things going right with a coast-to-coast drive and lay-up and Del Castillo hit again from downtown. When Draper converted an offensive rebound for two halfway through the period, Ventura led 41-32. Antelope Valley kept up the fight, however, and the Pirates led 46-39 at the quarter break.
Puga got on the board early in the final period, converting a Martin dime into a 3-pointer for a double-digit margin, 49-39. However, that would be the only Pirate score for the next six-plus minutes of game time until Puga hit again from range at the 3:29 mark. That shot made it 52-47, as Ventura held off Antelope Valley down the stretch. Puga hit one of two free throws in the closing seconds to set the final 53-50 margin.
Other scores from Friday's tournament action included Irvine Valley over Allan Hancock 68-34 and Rio Hondo over Orange Coast 74-51 in the consolation bracket. in the other semifinal, Mt. San Jacinto outlasted LA Valley 79-78.
On Saturday Dec. 30, Irvine Valley will play Rio Hondo at 2:00 pm in the consolation finals, LA Valley takes on Antelope Valley in the 3rd place game, and the Pirates battle Mt. San Jacinto in the championship game at 6:00 pm.