For the fourth time this season, the Pirates' women's basketball team played for a tournament championship, and for the fourth time they brought home the hardware. Talia Taufaasau had another MVP performance with 22 points, six assists, three rebounds, two blocks and a steal and all-tournament selection LaDaesha Merriweather was dominant on the boards, pulling in 15 rebounds to help lead VC (12-0) to a 66-44 win over host LA Valley College to claim the Buddy's All-Star Classic title. Madison Kast had 15 points while Cece Quintino netted 10 in Ventura's victory.
It was another wire-to-wire triumph as the Pirates never trailed in the game. Merriweather hit a turn-around jumper in the paint to get things started and Kast scored a short jumper for the 4-0 VC edge. Following a Monarch bucket, Taufaasau hit for three, then for two, and Kimora Pooler sank two free throws for an 11-2 margin with 4:35 remaining in the first quarter. Quintino had a pair of scores to make it 15-5 before LA Valley came back with six straight points. At the end of the quarter, the Monarchs drove to the basket, only to have Taufaasau come through with the clean blocked shot with nine seconds on the clock. Disagreeing with the call, LAVC was assessed a technical foul and Taufaasau calmly made two free throws, the Pirates were awarded the ball, and Taufaasau scored again for a 19-9 Pirate lead at the quarter break.
Alyssandra Lacanilao continued the run to open the second period, hitting a 3-pointer off Taufaasau's assist. LAVC scored a bucket before Taufaasau hit from range and followed with a pair of charity tosses. She then hit a lay-up for a 29-11 Ventura lead with 5:56 remaining in the half. Lacanilao hit another three at the 2:15 mark, and followed with two free shots, and Kast scored in the final minute of play for a 39-20 Ventura lead at halftime.
The Pirate express continued in the second half as Victoria Maciel hit a three to open the scoring following Merriweather's offensive rebound. Taufaasau made a jumper and Kast scored a lay-up as the Pirates opened up a 46-22 lead barely two minutes into the period. The margin remained at least 18 points for the rest of the period, with Quintino's three setting the score at 53-30 heading into the final stanza.
The Pirates held serve in the final 10 minutes, opening up a 26-point margin, 64-38, on Merriweather's inside score at the 2:30 mark. Emma Larson hit a pair of free throws late to set the final 66-44 margin.
Taufaasau was named tournament MVP, her third such award this season. She scored 18 of her 22 points in a dominant first half. Merriweather's rebounding prowess earned her an all-tournament nod, and Kast had a 15-point, five-rebound, four-block performance in the title game. Quintino totaled 10 points with six rebounds and Lacanilao scored eight points.
The Pirates, ranked No. 1 in the state, moved their record to 12-0, matching the 2009-10 team for the fourth-best start to a season in program history. VC returns to the hardwood on Friday Dec. 20 at Glendale before returning home on Saturday Dec. 21 to face Canyons in a rescheduled game at 5:00 pm at the Athletic Event Center.