For the second night in a row, the VC men's basketball team used a second half comeback to advance in the We Play hard Tip-Off Tournament at the Athletic Event Center. The Pirates defeated Palomar College 66-61 Friday to advance to Saturday's tournament final.
Ventura (2-0) opened up an early 7-3 advantage on a 3-pointer and two free throws from Robert Hunta nad an inside bucket from Vondel Faniel. The Comets came back to atke a 13-9 advantage with 12:40 left in the first half before a triple and a deuce from Elijah Brown put the Pirates back ahead a minute later.
Toure Atwater had an alley oop dunk to make it 16-15 at the 10:05 mark to begin an 8-0 Pirate run. Faniel made the score 22-15 at the 8:23 point to punctuate the run. Palomar scored eight of the next nine points to tie the score at 23-23 four minutes later, and outscored VC 18-7 ove rthe final eight-plus minutes of the period to take a 33-29 advantage into halftime.
Ventura wasted little time on the comeback, tying the score at 37-37 on a pair of charity tosses from Hunt with 15:55 left in the game. Atwater hit a long trey two minutes later to put the Pirates ahead 40-37.
Brown stretched the lead to 45-39 midway through the half with a pair of free throws, but the Comets forced another tie score at 46-46 with 7:44 on the clock. Nathaniel Claxton broke a 50-50 tie with a 3-pointer to put the Pirates ahead for good with six minutes remaining.
The game remained close down the stretch, with VC pulling away in the final minute for the 66-61 victory.
The Pirates had 10 players score, six of them with six or more points. Faniel finished with his second double-double in as many games, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Freshman guards Brown and Hunt tallied 12 and 10 points, respectively. Atwater and Claxton each added seven while Jalon Wilson had all six of his points in last 10 minutes of the game. Wilson also notched five assists to go with only one turnover.
The Pirates will take on preseason No. 1 Antelope Valley in the tournament championship at 4:00 pm Saturday Nov. 8 at the AEC. The game can also be seen live on the VC Sports Network courtesy of www.SoCalCollegeSports.com.