The Pirates' season came to a heartbreaking conclusion Friday with a 59-57 loss to Diablo Valley College in the CCCAA State Quarterfinals at the VC Athletic Event Center. The Pirates, seeded No. 4 from Southern California, went toe-to-toe with Northern California's top-seed in a game that featured 12 lead changes and five ties, and the margin stayed primarily within five points. Cece Quintino led the Ventura (25-10) with a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds while Victoria Maciel and Madison Cvijanovich each totaled 11 points. Talia Taufaasau had eight points and five assists and LaDaesha Merriweather pulled in 11 rebounds.
The Pirates got off to a customary slow start, falling behind 8-1 with 6:35 remaining in the first quarter. They then repeated their often-exhibited first quarter comeback, racing out with a 16-2 run over the next 4:38 of game time. Quintino assisted a lay-up by Emma Larson, then Taufaasau hit a mid-range jumper. Following a Viking bucket, Quintino scored off a Merriweather dime and Cvijanovich hit a pair of free throws. Quintino hit a jumper to give the Pirates an 11-10 lead at the 3:28 mark, and she followed that with one of two charity shots. Larryssa Russell finished the run with a huge 4-point play, making a three from the right corner, and converting a free throw after getting fouled. VC led 16-10 with 1:58 left in the period before DVC closed it out with a pair of field goals. VC led 16-14 at the quarter break.
The teams continued to battle it out in the second quarter with Quintino hitting a jumper to open the scoring. Maciel answered a DVC bucket with a three before the Vikings used an 8-2 run to take a 24-23 advantage with 5:03 on the clock. VC answered with a triple by Quintino, then the Vikings scored the next seven points for a 31-26 lead before Maciel and Larson closed the half with two more three's for a 32-31 Ventura advantage at halftime.
The intensity only increased in the final 20 minutes as the game remained close to the wire. The teams traded scores until Taufaasau had a 3-pointer answered by DVC, giving the Vikings a 42-41 lead at the 5:25 mark of the quarter. The score remained for over three minutes before Merriweather tied the game at 42-42 with 1:58 on the clock. DVC hit a big 3-pointer to go ahead 45-42 headed to the final period.
Cvijanovich cashed in an assist by Quintino to open the fourth, then answered a Diablo Valley shot from range with her own 3-pointer from the left side. The Vikings built a 53-47 advantage with 6:58 remaining in the game before Maciel halved the deficit with another shot from behind the arc. Cvijanovich followed with another shot inside to make it 53-52 with just under five minutes to play. the teams traded buckets once again before the Vikings made two free shots for a three point advantage at the 3:52 mark.
Taufaasau scored on a drive with 1:20 on the clock to pull the Pirates to within 57-56, and VC had the ball with a chance to take the lead before an untimely turnover led to a foul and two free throws by DVC. The Pirates drew a foul on the ensuing inbounds play, and Taufaasau made the first free throw to make it a two point game. The Pirates grabbed the offensive rebound on the miss of the second charity shot, and called timeout with 13 seconds on the clock to set up a final play. The Pirates got a shot in the paint in the closing seconds, then had a putback opportunity, but neither fell as the Pirates' season came to an end.
The Pirates end the season with an overall record of 25-10. They completed the 30th consectutive 20-win season in program history, and won 25 games for the 24th time in head coach Ned Mircetic's 29 years. They advanced to the program's state-record 18th Elite Eight and in the end, proved that they belonged among the state's best. They carried VC's We Play Hard tradition admirably, and set another solid foundation for future success. #VCWePlayHard