The Pirates' women's basketball team owned the inside Friday against Fullerton. Three Ventura forwards combined for 32 points and 29 rebounds (Madison Kast, 12 points, five rebounds; Kimora Pooler, 10 points 16 rebounds, and LaDaesha Merriweather, 10 points, eight boards) to lead VC to a 68-48 victory over the Hornets in the first round of the LAVC-Buddy's All-Star Classic in Valley Glen. As a team, Ventura outrebounded Fullerton 64-35 to move into the tournament semifinals. Talia Taufaasau had 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a pair of blocked shots to lead the effort as Ventura won its 10th straight game.
Merriweather scored early on the inside and Kast backed down her defender into a turn-around for a 6-3 Pirate lead. Cece Quntino assisted another Merriweather inside score before Kast scored again for a 13-8 Ventura advantage midway through the opening quarter. Pooler netted a deuce late in the period and Ventura led 16-13 at the quarter break.
Fullerton scored the first four points of the second quarter, then went scoreless for the final 7:23 of the half. Pooler's score from a Taufaasau dime gave the Pirates the lead for good, and she made two more jumpers for a personal 6-0 run. Merriweather got into the act with a field goal before assisting a three by Yasmine Ahllamara. Merriweather's jumper with 2:01 remaining completed VC's 12-0 run, giving the Pirates a 29-17 halftime advantage. The Pirates' inside presence of Kast, Merriweather and Pooler combined for 11-19 shooting in the first 20 minutes for 24 points to go along with 14 rebounds.
The Hornets made a mini-run early in the third period, only to have Ventura turn it back and add to the lead. Qunitino ended a 4-0 FC spurt, and Victoria Maciel assisted a bucket by Merriweather. Taufaasau sandwiched a 3-point play and a deuce around two free throws by Pooler and the Pirates stretched their lead to 41-25 at the 4:46 mark of the period. Kast made four straight charity shots and Taufaasau's three in the closing seconds made it 50-32 for VC heading to the fourth quarter.
Any hopes Fullerton had of a comeback were ended early in the final stanza when Maciel hit back-to-back three's for a 56-35 advantage. Taufaasau hot three of four free throws and a pair of field goals, and Emma Larson hit a triple and scored on a strong drive to the basket to keep the advantage near the 20-point mark. Ventura cruised to the end for the 68-48 victory.
Ventura advances to the tournament semifinals against San Francisco City College. The Pirates and Rams will tip off at 5:00 pm at LA Valley College in Valley Glen.