The VC men's basketball team held host Los Angeles valley scoreless for the final seven-plus minutes of the game Monday night, and nearly completed a massive comeback. The fell a point short, however, as the Monarchs claimed the 54-53 decision in Valley Glen. Robert Hunt led the Pirates (5-5) with 11 points and Steven Bush added 10 in the setback.
Ventura played well in the game's opening eight minutes, taking a 14-10 lead into a Valley timeout. A quick 7-0 Monarch run quickly changed things, however, and Eric Davis 3-pointer notched the game at 17 with a little over eight minutes left.
A slew of Pirate mishaps, mostly quick shots and unforced turnovers, allowed LAVC to go on a 20-6 run to close the first half. The Monarchs took a 37-23 lead into the break.
In the first 20 minutes, the Pirates shot a dismal 9-41 from the field, converting only four 2-point field goal attempts on 23 chances. Hunt and Devon Watkins each paced the Pirates with six points in the period. Watkins added seven rebounds, while Jamal Lewis hauled in six boards.
The second half was back and forth, for the most part, with Ventura having difficulty finding offensive consistency for the first ten minutes. Despite dominating the Monarchs on both the offensive and defensive glass, VC allowed a Valley run to extend the gap to 54-36 with 7:30 remaining in the game.
Bush hit a trey on VC's next possession and the Pirates were suddenly awakened from their post-Thanksgiving slumber. A defensive rebound led to a Hunt bucket in transition and the Pirates cut the Monarch advantage to 13 points inside of 30 seconds.
The VC defense held Valley to a shot clock violation on the next possession, and that was followed by a triple from Bush and a steal and lay-up by Jalon Wilson, making the score 54-46. Bush converted another easy bucket, and the VC defense forced a 5-second violation, putting Ventrua down six, 54-48, with possession of the ball at the 2:30 mark.
Bush scored again, this time on a left-handed floater, and Davis grabbed a defensive board on the next possession. Following a Pirate timeout, Davis nailed a long-range bomb from the corner to make the score 54-53 with 40 seconds remaining.
The defense held fast on the ensuing Monarch possession, featuring a blocked shot by Davis and a forced shot clock violation, giving Ventura a chance to win the game with five ticks on the clock. A turnover ended that chance, however, and following a Valley missed free throw, the Pirates could not convert a desperation shot at the buzzer, although Hunt's 60-foot effort was close, falling by a single point despite the furious comeback.
Hunt and Bush led the Pirate scoring, with Watkins adding eight points, mostly from offensive rebounds. Davis led VC with nine rebounds, followed by Watkins, Jamal Lewis and Vondel Faniel each with eight boards. VC pulled in 50 caroms as a team.
Next up, the Pirates travel to Lancaster to play in the 63rd annual Gregg Anderson Memorial Tournament at Antelope Valley College. VC opens play on Friday Dec. 5 against Los Angeles Harbor at 5:00 pm.