VENTURA, Calif. - After 923 games since the 1990-91 season, the Pirates were able to make a little history Sunday with a 56-39 win over San Bernardino Valley at the LA Valley Buddy's All-Star Classic. Davina Del Castillo had yet another double-double "animal style" with 15 points and 16 rebounds while Nikki Puga and Jasmyne Martin totaled 14 and 11 points, respectively, as Ventura posted head coach Ned Mircetic's 800th career victory, making him the 18th collegiate women's basketball coach in the nation, the fifth at the community college level, to achieve the milestone.
Ventura (8-4) led wire-to-wire, beginning with a 9-0 run tio open the game. Del Castillo got VC on the board with a trailing 3-pointer followed by a behind-the-back drive to the bucket by Martin. Del Castillo had a rebound and putback, and scored on a lya-up with an assist by Celeste Salazar and the score was 9-0 with 4;05 remaining in the opening quarter. The Wolverines got on the board with a 3-pointer and adeuce before Melissa Ohmie made a pair of free throws. The Pirates led 12-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Martin got the scoring started for Ventura in the second period with a split of a pair of charity shots before SBVC nailed two triples to pull even at 13-13. Del Castillo ended the tie game quickly with another trey, again off a Salazar dime, and the Pirates had the lead for good with 8:42 remaining in the half. Del Castillo then assisted a runner by Martin, and Elissa Root hit Talitha Draper in the post for bucket to complete a 7-0 run for VC. Leading 22-17 with 4:00 on the clock, the Pirates finished the half on a 9-0 run to take control of the game. Salazar assisted an Ohmie jumper then Del Castillo dropped another dime to Martin. Salazar assisted a 3-pointer by Puga, then completed her own lay-up off a pass from Kylie Vint for a 31-17 lead at halftime.
The Pirates continued the run into the second half with two charity tosses from Del Castillo and a made field goal by Vint for a 35-17 advantage. Midway through the third quarter, Puga had a personal 8-0 run with back-to-back three's and two free throws to give VC its biggest lead of the game, 45-22, with 4:19 on the clock. Ventura held a 46-27 lead at the quarter break, and rode the momentum through the final period for the victory.
Del Castillo added three assists, two blocks and two steals to her double-double for an outstanding fantasy basketball stat line and Puga added five boards. Salazar handed out six assists in the game and Ohmie totaled five points and seven rebounds.
For Mircetic, he becomes just the 18th collegiate women's basketball coach to achieve the 800-win milestone. Additionally, he achieved 800 wins in just 923 games, making him the fastest to reach the mark. By comparison, Geno Auriema of Connecticut recorded his 800th career win in 2012 in 928 games and Lin Laursen of Central Arizona CC achieved her 800th victory in 2003 in 934 games.
Mircetic has been the California Community College women's basketball victory leader since the 2010 season.
Ventura will take a week off now for finals before heading to the Coast Christmas Classic on Dec. 18-20 in Costa Mesa. VC plays next Cerritos on Monday Dec. 18 at 5:00 pm in Costa Mesa.
(Courtesy Ventura College Athletics)