The Pirates kept up the pace Saturday, defeating a tenacious Cypress team 72-63 Saturday in the semifinals of the LA Valley Buddy's All-Star Classic. Rhiana Dougan netted 26 points to lead the way while Katie Campbell (14 points, 13 rebounds) and Sienna Brown (10 points, 10 rebounds) each posted double-doubles. Davina Del Castillo just missed her In-N-Out special with eight points and 21 boards for Ventura (7-4).
Ventura led wire-to-wire but it was not easy against the Chargers' 40 minutes of full-court pressure. Kyleesha Green assisted Campbell's 3-pointer on the opening possession, and Dougan scored on a lay-up in transition to put VC ahead 5-0 barely a minute into the game. Green and Dougan followed with lay-ups and Brown connected on a short jumper as the Pirates led 11-2 with 6:18 remaining in the first period. Cypress closed to within 18-16 at the 2:53 mark, but a 3-pointer from Dougan and a jumper from Campbell gave VC a 23-16 edge after one quarter.
A Green jumper and two free throws from Celeste Salazar padded the lead to 27-16, and Christina Gonzalez's bucket made it 34-21 with 4:11 left in the half. Salazar made a trey with an assist by Green to stretch the lead to 14 points in the final minute, but Cypress closed the half with a free throw and a 3-pointer to make it 37-27 at intermission.
The Pirates went on a 10-2 run over 4:12 to begin the second half. Campbell got things started with a jumper and Dougan made a lay-up early in the run. After two Cypress free throws, Del Castillo scored with an assist by Green, and Dougan connected on a pair of charity shots. Brown's jumper with 5:48 on the clock made it 47-29 for the Pirates. Del Castillo made tow free shots at the 2:07 mark to make it a 20 point game, 56-36, but the Chargers scored the final five points of the period, including a 3-pointer from beyond half court at the buzzer to make the score 56-41 after three.
Cypress kept clawing back into the game throughout the final period. Early on, Campbell, Brown, Dougan and Del Castillo all hit big shots to answer Charger runs, Dougan's from range, by Cypress kept coming. At the 2:07 mark, Cypress hit a pari of free throws to shrink the VC lead to single-digits, 65-56, and made a jumper and two more charity tosses to make it a five point margin with 1:02 on the clock. VC went to the free throw line 10 times i n the final minute, connecting on seven attempts, with Campbell putting the game on ice with four straight makes in the final 16 seconds.
Campbell added five blocked shots to her resume on the night, including two in the final 24 seconds. Brown added a pair of blocked shots to her In-N-Out special, and Del Castillo turned back two Charger shots as well. Green handed out seven assists on the night. Ventura outrebounded Cypress 64-45.
The Pirates advance to the tournament championship for the fifth time in the past six years. They will play the host LA Valley Monarchs at 4:00 pm Sunday Dec. 11, the third VC-LAVC finals match-up in the tournament's six-year history. Ventura lost at LA Valley to open up the season, 54-37 on Nov. 18.