After trailing by as many as 15 points in the second quarter, the VC women's basketball team came back to post a n 81-75 victory over San Joaquin Delta to claim third place at the 16-team Tom Gilcrest Invitational at College of the Sequoias in Visalia. Cece Quintino posted a career-high 31 points to earn all-tournament honors and Victoria Maciel hit five threes en route to 23 points for VC (7-3). LaDaesha Merriweather pulled in 15 big rebounds in the winning cause.
The Pirates showed the mileage of playing their fourth game in four days early in the contest. The Mustangs jumped out to leads of 4-1 and 11-4 early in the first quarter as the Pirates struggled to find their legs. Delta hit four 3-pointers in the opening 10 minutes, posting a 21-14 lead after one period of play.
The Mustangs went on an 8-0 run to begin the second quarter, expanding their lead to 29-14 with 7:16 on the clock. Quintino responded with a personal 8-0 run, getting to the rim twice before hitting two free throws and triple off an assist by Merriweather. Maciel then connected from behind the arc to cut the deficit to three, 29-26 with 3:22 remaining in the half. Delta scored the next seven points to reestablish control, but the Pirates had different ideas. Maciel hit on the drive and Robin Fallandy made a lay-up and free throw to climb back to within 38-31. Quintino followed with a mid-range jumper and two charity tosses as Ventura trailed 40-35 at halftime.
VC continued the comeback in the third period as Emma Larson assisted a Quintino trey on the opening possession. Maciel hit from range on the next and the Pirates suddenly led 41-40. Quintino then scored 11 straight points for Ventura as the Pirates moved ahead 52-48 at the 3:32 mark of the period. All-tournament selection Talia Taufaasau made one of two free throws and a lay-up for a 56-52 lead. Ventura managed the final minute of the third period well, as Maciel hit for three, then Merriweather cleaned up the garbage at the buzzer for another two and the Pirates led at the quarter break 63-58.
The fourth quarter was played like the final round of a heavyweight fight with the teams trading punches. Maciel took over the game for Ventura, answering every Delta score as she netted 10 straight points for the Pirates, many of which came while playing with four fouls. With the game tied at 73-73 with 2:01 remaining, Fallandy was clutch, hitting two free throws to put the Pirates ahead for good. Quintino netted two charity tosses with 34 seconds left, and Madison Cvijanovich was 4-4 at the foul line in the final 30 seconds to set the final 81-75 margin.
While Quintino and Maciel were dominant offensively, the Pirates received great contributions from Cvijanovich and Fallandy, who each netted seven points. Colleen Clow and Larryssa Russell also had strong contributions to the victory.
Ventura will next take to the floor on Friday Dec. 7 against San Bernardino Valley at the LAVC-Buddy's All-Star Classic at Los Angeles Valley College. Tip-off is scheduled for 3:00 pm in Valley Glen.