The VC men's basketball team jumped out to a 40-21 lead at halftime and never looked back, rolling past Santa Barbara 83-56 to claim the Western State Conference title outright in the regular season finale Saturday night. Vida Faniel led VC (17-12, 8-2) with 15 points and seven rebounds and Isiah Reyes had 14 points with three assists. Cordel Hankerson and Trevor LaCount also chipped in 10 points each and Eddie Cowan dished out seven assists in the Pirate victory.
The Pirates used a slow steady pace to pull away from the host Vaqueros from the beginning of the game. Faniel started off with an inside bucket followed by a Calvin Young 3-pointer and a Cowan bucket to take a 7-3 advantage at the 16:40 mark of the opening period.
LaCount scored off a Reyes assist and Hankerson turned in a deuce to make it 16-10 at the 9:05 mark, beginning a 15-2 Pirate run. Hankerson and Faniel hit back-to-back threes to open up some breathing room, 22-10, and LaCount's 3-point play followed by a Faniel score inside made it 27-12 for Ventura. Ryan Sells hit a field goal to make the score 32-19 with 2:52 on the clock before Taylor Sturgeon scored late and Reyes netted VC's final six points of the period. The Pirates led 40-21 at intermission.
Ventura put the game on ice with a 12-4 run to open the second half. Hankerson and Young sandwiched three-balls around an inside score by Faniel, and Hankerson converted a pull-up jumper followed by a rebound and putback by Thomas Frank to complete the run. Later in the half, Reyes converted back-to-back buckets, and LaCount scored inside to stretch the advantage to 74-46 with 4:45 remaining. The Pirates rode it out for the 83-56 victory.
Young totaled nine points in the effort and Stephen Ntui led the rebound charge with eight boards.
Ventura captures its second straight WSC crown with an 8-2 mark, two games ahead of Cuesta who lost Saturday at home against Moorpark. The Pirates will now await their playoff seed to be announced Monday afternoon, Feb. 20.