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Ventura Outclasses Cypress in Long Run

Women's basketball: Pirates pull away late in first half and advance to Final Eight tournament again, 94-56.


VENTURA — This time it took a little longer than usual for the Ventura College women's basketball team.

But eventually the inevitable happened.

The top-seeded Pirates blew open a close game in the last 6:32 of the first half and rolled to a 94-56 victory Friday night over Cypress in the third round of the Southern California Regional at Ventura.

Ventura (35-0) advanced to the Final Eight Tournament for the fifth consecutive season.

The Pirates, who are seeking their first championship since they won back-to-back titles in 1996 and 1997, play their tournament opener Thursday night in Stockton.

While he isn't about to make any predictions, Coach Ned Mircetic of Ventura said he likes his team's chances.

"We're balanced," he said. "We have good players at every position and that balance keeps other teams honest."

That was never more evident than it was against the Chargers (12-20).

The Pirates used the inside play of forwards Sandra Kaufhold and Shatasha Noble and the outside shooting of guard Renae Hofmann to keep Cypress off balance.

It was the shooting of Hofmann that finally helped put away the Chargers late in the first half.

Ventura held a 25-22 lead with 6:32 remaining in the half before the Pirates went on a 19-5 run, including nine points by Hofmann, for a 44-27 halftime lead.

For good measure, Hofmann made four three-point baskets in the second half to help the Pirates turn it into a rout,

The former Buena High player finished with 26 points, including six three-point baskets.

The Pirates led by 43 points before Ventura emptied its bench in the closing minutes.

While the Pirates forced 20 turnovers, there wasn't a defining moment when they turned it into a rout.

"It's just a constant effort on our part," Mircetic said.

"The game plan each night is to play hard for 40 minutes and eventually we wear teams down."

Ventura certainly didn't hurt itself by making 36 of 66 shots.

The Pirates had good scoring balance, as usual. Noble finished with 17 points, Kaufhold collected 12 points and 12 rebounds and reserve Bryanna Norton had 10 points.

Hofmann thinks this is a better team than the one that suffered a 62-60 defeat to Sierra in the state championship game last season.

"This team is better than last year because of our inside and outside game, and we have a lot of talent to go with it," she said.

Cypress kept it close for most of the first half, and even led several times.

But the defensive pressure of the Pirates finally started to take its toll on the Chargers toward the end of the half.

The Pirates forced 13 turnovers in the half.

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