VENTURA — Before a game against College of the Canyons on Saturday night, Coach Ned Mircetic showed off a hefty ring he got commemorating the state basketball championship his Pirate women won in 1996-97 by defeating Canyons.
This time, the Pirates ran rings around the Cougars again en route to a 71-57 victory in a Western State Conference interdivision opener for both teams at Ventura College.
Renae Hofmann, a graduate of Buena High, scored 15 of her 27 points in the second half for Ventura, and the Pirates' game-long lead reached as high as 25 points.
"It was a big game, and we were ready to play," Hofmann said.
"Once I hit my first couple of shots, I was looking to shoot."
She got plenty of opportunities.
Canyons (9-3), ranked ninth in the state by the JC Athletic Bureau, committed 27 turnovers, including 16 in the first half.
The mistakes, combined with some hot shooting by Hofmann and others, allowed Ventura (15-3), ranked sixth in the state, to take control early.
Canyons scored the first four points of the second half to pull to within 26-23. But Hofmann sparked the Pirates on an 18-7 run that put Ventura up, 44-30, with 12:22 to go.
"When you come to Ventura, you've got to have your game, and we were terrible," Coach Greg Herrick of Canyons said.
Canyons couldn't help itself much when the Cougars did retain the ball, making 18 of 48 shots (37.5%). Ventura, by contrast, shot nearly 53%, making 27 of 51.
Hofmann made 10 of 15 shots and four of six free throws. Ventura, which has won six consecutive games, got eight points and eight rebounds from Kristin De Simone.
LaTasha Allen had 19 points and Kameelah Purdom had 17 for Canyons.