The Pirates' men's basketball team got off to a hot start behind Cordel Hankerson and Trevor LaCount and made it hold up for the entire game in their 79-69 victory over Cuyamaca in the consolation championship of the Irvine Valley Classic Saturday afternoon. Hankerson finished with 21 points and four rebounds, earning all-tournament accolades, and LaCount came in with 17 points and five boards.
LaCount sandwiched a pair of inside buckets around a deuce and a three from Hankerson putting Ventura ahead 9-2, two minutes into the game. A Vida Faniel trey made it 12-4 at the 16:06 mark of the first half.
The Coyotes managed to tie the score at 14-14, but back-to-back 3-pointers from Thomas Frank and Hankerson put the Pirates ahead for good. Isiah Reyes hit a triple to make it 23-16 at the 10:43 mark, and Hankerson's three extended the lead to 10, 28-18 with 8:04 remaining in the half. Ventura led 37-31 at halftime.
Cuyamaca made multiple runs early in the second half, but each time a different Pirate made a big shot to hold the edge. LaCount, Frank and Hankerson all hit key shots to help the Pirates hold the advantage and Reyes also nailed a key 3-pointer to make it 47-39 with 14:35 on the clock.
Deryck Harvey hit a three, and Taylor Sturgeon's free throw gave the Pirates a 16-point edge, 62-46, with 9:04 remaining. The Coyotes never really threatened the rest of the way with Reyes, LaCount and Frank keeping them at arm's distance. Ventura rode the momentum to the 79-69 win.
Frank netted 15 points in the win, hitting four 3-pointers, with seven rebounds and Reyes also totaled 15 points with three assists. Ventura was 38 percent from behind the arc (13-38) and 47 percent from the floor (29-62).
Ventura returns to the court on Tuesday Nov. 22 at Los Angeles Valley College. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 pm.