VC sophomore Jacob Alonzo had 25 points, seven rebounds, five steals and a pair of assists to lead the Pirates' men's basketball team to a 74-66 victory over previously unbeaten Cerritos to take the championship of the Irvine Valley Classic. Isiah Reyes netted 17 points with four assists and John WIlliams had 15 in the Ventura win.
The teams traded blows early with three ties and six lead changes in the first nine minutes of play. Reyes drove the lane for a lay-up and a 16-15 Pirate edge at the 10:53 mark of the first half, and Alonzo connected from close range on the next possession. Terrell Handy-Johnson added a free throw and an inside score, and Alonzo followed with a 3-pointer to complete a 10-0 VC run and a 24-15 lead with 7:37 remaining in the half. Ventura went cold for the next four minutes offensively, but the defense held fast and kept a 25-21 margin when Williams hit a pair of charity tosses to end the drought. The Falcons closed to within 26-25 with 2:32 left, but back-to back scores from Reyes and Alonzo, a free throw from Reyes and another free shot from Darrell Handy-Johnson moved the Pirates back out front. Ventura led 32-27 at halftime.
Ventura expanded its advantage to begin the second half, and Alonzo hit a trey with an assist by Reyes at the 16:57 mark to move Ventura ahead 41-29. The Falcons proved to be a tough bunch, coming back to within 43-40 before Malcolm Ruff connected on a free throw and Reyes helped another Alonzo triple. Cerritos scored the next four points to make it a one-possession game once again, but Ruff cashed in Alonzo's dime to make it 49-44 with 10:09 left in the game. Williams hit a deuce and a trey to open the Pirate lead back to double figures and it stayed in that area for the rest of the contest. Stephen Ntui assisted a Williams dunk to stretch the lead to 12, 65-53, with 2:20 on the clock, and VC nailed five of six free throws in the final minute to preserve the 74-66 triumph.
Alonzo was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player while Reyes and Darrell H-J were named all-tournament. Ruff contributed 10 points and six boards Saturday in the victory.
The Pirates are off for the Thanksgiving holiday and will return to action at home on Tuesday Nov. 28. VC hosts Santa Monica for a 6:00 pm tip-off at the Athletic Event Center.