The VC men's basketball team showed signs of growth Saturday, fighting tooth and nail against SoCal No. 3 San Bernardino Valley before eventually dropping a 60-56 decision in the semifinals of the Kriby Mannon Pepsi/Holiday Inn Tournament at the College of the Sequoias in Visalia. Robert Hunt led the Pirates (6-8) with 26 points, including hitting six 3-pointers and six rebounds. Toure Atwater netted eight points while Elijah Brown added seven with five assists.
It took the Pirates a few minutes to get going as they allowed SBVC an early 8-0 cushion in the first four minutes. Eric Davis got the Pirates on the board with a three point bucket, but San Bernardino answered with six more points to take the early 14-3 lead. The Pirates would put together an 8-0 of their own on the strength of a Hunt 3-pointer and Toure Atwater steal and dunk, making it 16-11 halfway through the opening period. Hunt added four more treys in the half, finishing with 18 in the opening 20 minutes. His hot hand helped the Pirates take a 30-28 lead into halftime.
The second half would be as competitive as the first, with the Pirates and Wolverines exchanging buckets. Neither side would have a lead of more than five points in the final 20 minutes. VC tied the score with a Brown to Atwater ally-oop with four minutes left to play, but the Wolverines were able to pull out the four-point victory, 60-65.
Ventura plays in the third-place game on Sunday Dec. 21 at 2:00 pm against Pasadena City College.