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BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS : Ventura Sweeps Through Desert : Southern California Men's Regional: Top-ranked Pirates open playoffs by blowing past Roadrunners, 109-74.


VENTURA — With a nickname like the Roadrunners, one would think the College of the Desert basketball team would be somewhat quicker than it was Saturday night.

Actually, Desert did a lot of running, mostly in an attempt to keep up with Ventura's speedy and relentless offense. It didn't work, though. In fact, it could not have been more ineffective.

The Pirates out-hustled Desert en route to a 109-74 victory in the first round of the Southern California regional playoffs.

"They were quicker than we ever thought they could be," Desert Coach John Marman said. "We fell into the normal trap, we tried to run with them."

Big mistake. Top-seeded Ventura (32-1) jumped out to a 20-9 lead. By halftime, Ventura had extended its lead to 53-25.

Desert (10-19), seeded last, didn't come close to threatening Ventura. A couple of minutes into the second half the Pirates were ahead, 70-35, with no signs of letting up.

The three-point shots kept pouring in and so did the dunks. With 6:50 to play Charles Woodard hit a three-point basket to give Ventura an 88-50 lead.

"It's playoff time and anybody can beat you," Ventura Coach Philip Mathews said. "That's why you have to go for every loose ball and every rebound and you have to follow up on every shot. That's what we did tonight."

The Pirates reached the century mark when David Palmer hit a five-foot jump shot from the left side with 2:25 remaining. It gave Ventura a 101-67 lead.

Damian Cantrell and Woodard led the Pirates with 16 points each. Lance Fay had 15 and Shannon Taylor and Hakeem Ward each had 12.

"This is probably the most pumped we've been all year," said Fay, a sophomore guard. "This is the playoffs and we take every team seriously. We actually turned it up a notch."

And the effort didn't go unnoticed by the capacity crowd of 3,400. Fans yelled and waved their orange cards whenever the Pirates scored, and long after they had sealed the victory.

"I wish we had a crowd like this everywhere," Marman said. "It was fun to play in front of this."

Eric Shaw led Desert with 25 points and Gabriel Camargo had 17.

Ventura will host Irvine Valley in its second-round playoff game on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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