Butch Mettinger of College of the Canyons is considered a streak shooter.
If the sophomore guard's confidence is low, such as when he misses several shots in a row, Mettinger might not be heard from for a week.
But if Mettinger finds the range early from three-point range--no Western State Conference opponent is safe.
Ventura was the team in trouble Thursday night as Mettinger scored a game-high 37 points to lead the visiting Cougars to a 92-89 victory over the Pirates at Ventura.
With Canyons leading, 87-86, with three minutes to play, Rusty Morse scored three of the Cougars' final five points and Darrin Moloznik made two free throws in the final seven seconds.
Ventura's Wally Carter hit a three-point shot to tie the score, 89-89, with less than two minutes to play. But the Pirates, the defending state champions, committed several turnovers in the closing seconds.
"When we come against the defending champions on their own floor and beat them, this is our biggest win, there's no doubt," Canyons Coach Lee Smelser said.
Smelser credits Mettinger's sure-handed shooting for helping the Cougars improve their record to 17-10, 7-2 in conference play.
"When he gets it going, it's fun to watch," Smelser said. "We told the players at halftime just to let him have the ball and watch."
Mettinger put on a scoring show that included 21 second-half points. He was four points shy of his season-high 41 point performance in December against Valley.
Mettinger knew early that he was not going to have trouble scoring.
"After the first shot I sank in the first quarter, I just knew they were going to keep falling," Mettinger said. "Lately, I haven't been hitting my three-pointers. But it just felt good tonight."
The Canyons-Ventura matchup was supposed to be the Cedric Ceballos show. But Ceballos, the state's leading scorer, scored his 25 points in spurts, which allowed Canyons to stay close.
Carter, who averages 13.5 points a game, provided the Pirates' offensive punch in the second half as he scored 22 of his team-high 32 points.
The Pirate guard, whose precise three-point shooting kept Ventura close in the closing minutes, scored his team's last eight points in the final 3:46.
Mettinger kept Canyons close in the first half by scoring 16 of the Cougars' 40 points. With Ventura ahead, 15-11, in the first five minutes, Mettinger scored Canyons' next eight points to give the Cougars a 19-17 lead with 14:20 left in the half.
Ceballos scored 15 points in the first half to keep Ventura ahead for most of the period. With the score tied, 35-35, Ventura outscored Canyons, 9-5, in the final 3:27 of the first half to put the Pirates ahead at halftime, 44-40.
Canyons rallied in the second half and went ahead for the first time in the period, 64-63, on Kevin Price's basket with 10:22 remaining.
Before Price gave Canyons the lead, Troy Lehman scored five quick points off the bench to close the gap to a point.
Canyons led throughout the final 10 minutes and held off a late Pirate rally for the win. The loss dropped Ventura to 19-9, 7-2.
Morse added 14 points and Del Linzy and Moloznik scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, for Ventura.
Ceballos pulled down a game-high 23 rebounds, and Linzy grabbed 10 for Canyons and had 5 assists.