The ups and downs and twists and turns of playoff basketball were on full display Thursday in Monterey Park as the No. 11-seeded VC women went from looking at the thrill of victory to experiencing the agony of a heartbreaking defeat in their 59-57 last-second loss at No. 6 East Los Angeles. The Huskies hit a 12-footer over a defensive hand at the buzzer to advance over the Pirates (16-11), who were led by Kylie Gallick's 13-point, 11 rebound double-double and Kenya Edelhart's 10-point, nine-assist, eight-board performance.
The game was close throughout as neither team was able to build more than a five-point advantage. The game featured six ties and 10 lead changes, none bigger than the one at the final horn. The defenses played a huge role in the game as VC wa held to 31 percent shooting in the contest while ELAC made 32 percent of their field goal attempts.
While the Huskies held a slim edge for most of the first quarter, Ventura came back with a pair of field goals by Mya Victor sandwiched around a jumper from Maddie Ozbourn to hold a 12-11 lead at the end of the period.
East LA scored the first two field goals of the second period before Alisha Cruz-Lisberg hit a 12-footer off an assist from Alyssandra Lacanilao to stop the run. Two Gallick free throws and another bucket by Victor tied the score at 18 before a 5-0 run by ELAC made it 23-18 with 6:05 remaining. Another jumper from Ozbourn, a deuce by Victor and a three from Lacanilao gave the Pirates a 7-0 run as they went ahead 25-23 with 3:23 on the clock. Sofia Torres-Reyes nailed a pair of charity shots with 1:26 remaining, but a free throw by the Huskies in the closing seconds made it 29-28 at halftime for VC.
Gallick made a free throw on Ventura's first possession of the second half, then answered an East LA score with an old-fashioned 3-point play to extend the Pirates' lead to 33-30 a minute into the third. The Huskies countered with a 9-1 run to go ahead by five midway through the period before Gallick hit a free throw and a lay-up, and Cruz-Lisberg scored on the break, Edelhart hit two foul shots and Ozbourn made a charity shot to tie the game at 41 with 2:22 on the clock. ELAC led 46-43 at the quarter break.
Edelhart and Lacanilao brought the Pirates back early in the fourth with a pull-up jumper followed by a 3-pointer, respectively. Edelhart made two more field goals a Victor hit a three from the right side to give Ventura a 55-53 lead with 4:08 remaining, the fifth lead change of the period. Gallick then converted an offensive rebound into two points with 2:05 remaining and the Pirate lead was four, 57-53. East Los Angeles scored on their next two possessions to tie the score setting up the drama-filled final minute. VC missed a good look at a three and the Huskies missed a lay-up before Ventura gained possession with 23 seconds remaining. An Pirate drive was knocked out of bounds by ELAC with 3.3 ticks remaining before an unfortunate turnover gave the ball back to the Huskies with 2.5 seconds on the clock, setting up their buzzer-beating shot.
Victor finished with 11 points off the bench and Ozbourn scored nine points with seven rebounds. Victor and Torres-Reyes each pulled in five boards in the game.
The heartbreaking loss ends the Pirate season with a 16-11 record. However, the team persevered through numerous injuries in the first two months of the season and won the final 11 games of the regular season to earn a share of the 32nd Western State Conference North Division championship. With a strong core of freshmen returning in 2022-23, the future is bright for the Pirates.