Victoria Maciel had 20 points while Talia Taufaasau and Cece Quintino each netted 18 as the Pirates' women's basketball team defeated Rio Hondo 64-49 Saturday evening to advance to the championship game of the VC-Optimist Club Holiday Tournament. Taufaasau added eight assists, Quintino had nine rebounds, and LaDaesha Merriweather hauled in 18 boards for VC (12-6). Ventura advances to the tournament final against Mt. San Jacinto Sunday Dec. 30 at 4:00 pm at the Athletic Event Center.
After falling behind by a bucket early, the Pirates quickly rebounded with an 11-0 run to take command midway through the first quarter. Maciel began things with a 3-pointer followed by a Taufaasau drive to the hoop. Emma Larson then hit from three off a Taufaasau dime, then Quintino did the same for an 11-2 Pirate lead at the 5:05 mark of the period. After a brief 6-0 stretch by the Roadrunners, VC launched a long range barrage to take firm control. Maciel sandwiched a pair of triples around a Quintino long-ranger and Ventrua led 20-9 at the quarter break.
After Maciel opened the second stanza with a jumper, Rio Hondo closed the lead back to 10 points with a free throw and a bucket. A 3-pointer and two free throws by Taufaasau stretched the lead out to 15 points and the Pirates' advantage floated between 10-15 points throughout the remainder of the half. VC led 35-23 at intermission.
Rio Hondo stayed close with the Pirates in the second half, narrowing the margin to single digits on numerous occasions. Ventura never allowed the lead to dip below eight points, however, and the Pirates closed the quarter with a 9-2 stretch over the final 3:37. Quintino hit a three and Taufaasau nailed three deuces down the stretch for a 53-37 lead after three quarters.
The Pirate advantage stretched to 20 points, 59-39, on Maciel's jumper, and Quintino hit a pair of charity tosses for Ventura's largest lead, 61-39, with 4:43 remaining. Ventura held on for the 64-49 victory over the Roadrunners.
Other scores from Saturday included: Irvine Valley 79, Allan Hancock 73, and Antelope Valley over Orange Coast 79-39 in the consolation semifinals; and Mt. San Jacinto over LA Valley 69-48 in the other semifinal.
The Pirates advance to their 10th straight VC-Optimist Tournament title game appearance on Sunday. They will play Mt. San Jacinto at 4:00 pm in the Athletic Event Center.