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Ventura Pushed to Victory by Solano

Women's basketball: Top-ranked Pirates get a scare before winning in state quarterfinals, 54-50


STOCKTON — Talk about flirting with disaster.

Ventura College, ranked No. 1 in the state, sweated out a 54-50 victory over Solano in a quarterfinal game of the women's junior college state basketball championships Thursday night at San Joaquin Delta College.

Ventura (36-0) will play Foothill (31-5) in a semifinal tonight at 8 at San Joaquin Delta. Foothill defeated Cerritos, 73-59, in another quarterfinal game.

"This is what you get when you get to the playoffs," Ventura Coach Ned Mircetic said. "Now things are a little bit tighter."

Things were never this tight during the regular season, when the Pirates handily defeated most opponents.

But Solano (24-13), ranked No. 18, would not go quietly.

The Falcons really had no business staying with Ventura for as long as they did.

After Ventura led, 29-19, at halftime, Solano rallied midway through the second half.

The Falcons scored six consecutive points to pull ahead, 45-43, with 5:27 to play.

Forward Erica Morrow had five points in the run, including a three-point basket.

But Ventura, aiming for its third state championship in five years, responded with an 8-0 run for a 51-45 lead that seemed to break Solano for good.

Forward Shatasha Noble, who had eight points for Ventura, capped the scoring with free throws during the Pirates' last two possessions.

Solano had pulled to within 52-50 with 22 seconds remaining on a layup by Michelle Lewis, who had 17 points.

"We had a couple of opportunities to fold and kept coming back," Mircetic said.

Solano, a good perimeter-shooting team throughout the season, made only 17 of 55 shots (30.9%), including a measly seven of 23 (30.4%) from three-point range.

Ventura made 17 of 43 (39.5%) shots. The Pirates took only four three-point shots, making one.

The game was sloppy, with Ventura committing 28 turnovers and Solano 26.

Solano stayed with Ventura for much of the first half until the Pirates went on a 10-0 run to break out of a 19-19 tie.

Renae Hofmann scored 15 points for Ventura and backcourt mate Jackie Rhetta scored 10. Sandra Kaufhold added 13 points and seven rebounds.

Shasta 89, Canyons 70--Kameelah Purdom had 20 points and 12 rebounds but the Cougars fell in a quarterfinal game at San Joaquin Delta College.

Vonetta Lanier added 11 points and seven rebounds for Canyons (25-7).

Danielle Ferris of Shasta (32-3) scored 23 points, Melissa Holcomb added 19 and Jen Klein had 15.

Canyons shot only 28.8% and made three of 16 from three-point range.

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