The Ventura College men's basketball team has so many offensive weapons, it's anyone's guess who will lead the scoring charge on any given night.
Saturday, forwards Michael Tate and Maurice Smith stepped forward, combining for 36 points to lead the Pirates to a 77-63 victory over Valley in a Western State Conference interdivisional game at Ventura.
Smith, a 6-foot-3 freshman from Washington High, delivered from long range with five three-point baskets and 19 total points. Freshman Tate, a 6-foot-5 reserve from Fremont, produced from inside, scoring 17 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
But if the Ventura offense was a two-man show, the Pirate defense was another story--everyone got in the act.
"They were just all over us," Valley forward Russell Baldwin said of Ventura, which entered the game with the WSC's top-ranked defense. "They pressed all day and all night."
The result was Ventura's sixth win in a row, although it didn't come without a fight. Valley (11-10, 3-2 in WSC play) surged to a 30-28 halftime edge before the Pirate defense took its toll.
"Valley came to play," said Ventura Coach Philip Mathews, who substituted frequently to keep rested players in the game. "(But) our defense will wear you down in the end."
The Pirates (21-4, 5-1) turned a 40-38 deficit into a 67-58 lead with just less than three minutes to play. Smith was the catalyst, connecting on four of five three-point shots and adding a crowd-pleasing dunk.
Valley, which was led by Baldwin's 24 points and Art Kirksey's 20 rebounds, closed to 67-61 on a David Tyner jump shot with 2 minutes 37 seconds to play. But Tate followed with four consecutive points to quell the comeback.
Chico Langston had eight points, seven assists and five steals for Ventura. Randy Brown scored 14 points and Shane Bright added eight assists for Valley.