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Ventura Goes Deep, 89-58

Women's basketball: Taylor scores 21 points and Pirates wear down Southwest with superior depth to reach Final Eight again.


VENTURA — Too much depth and too much Monique Taylor.

That combination amounted to a victory by Ventura College, 89-58, over Southwest on Friday night in a Southern California women's basketball playoff bracket final at Ventura.

The Pirates (30-4) advanced to the state championships Thursday through Saturday at Stockton, where they will defend the title they won at the University of the Pacific last season.

"Everything worked [Friday night]," Coach Ned Mircetic said. "Our defense was solid, the fastbreak was excellent and the rebounding was there."

Taylor, a freshman guard from Channel Islands High, scored a game-high 21 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had four steals.

She slid along the baseline for easy baskets, especially in the second half, when the Pirates turned a competitive game after the first 20 minutes into a rout.

"I can penetrate well down the baseline," Taylor said. "The girl who was guarding me was on top of me all the time, so I just drove on her."

Ventura, seeded No. 1 in the regional, is making its eighth trip to the Final Eight in Mircetic's 11 seasons with the program. The Pirates also won titles in 1995-96 and 1996-97.

Southwest (24-9), seeded No. 8, had only eight players in uniform. Ventura's constant substitutions finally wore down the Cougars, who managed to pull to within 32-27 at the half.

The Cougars led, 8-6, with 15:36 to play in the first half on Tia Hanson's basket and free throw.

But Ventura regained command with eight consecutive points for a 14-8 lead and had its largest lead of the first half, 30-22, on Kelly Murray's three-point basket from the left corner at the 1:26 mark.

The Pirates wasted little time in putting away Southwest in the second half, going on an 18-6 run for a 50-33 lead with 14:29 to play.

Ventura later reeled off 10 consecutive points for a 68-39 lead.

"At halftime, coach talked to us about rotating on defense," Taylor said. "We just came together."

Freshman forward Sarah Kolbeck, from Santa Paula, complemented Taylor, scoring 14 of her 16 points in the second half. She had several layups after the Pirates turned up the jets on the fastbreak. Kolbeck finished with eight rebounds.

Murray had 14 points and teammates Estelle Diaz and Alyssa Farrington each scored 10 points.

Freshman guard Alicia Gardner of Southwest scored 16 points, but was held to three in the second half.

"We tried to keep [Gardner] outside," Taylor said. "They weren't making the threes, so we just let them shoot them."

Melissa Henderson had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Cougars, and Hanson scored 11 points.

The Pirates forced 26 turnovers.

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