With four of its key players hampered by the flu, the Rio Mesa High girls' basketball team had its hands full Saturday against previously undefeated Hueneme.
But the Spartans fought off a third-quarter rally to defeat Hueneme, 54-40, and win the Rio Mesa Tournament for the second straight season and remain unbeaten. Rio Mesa is 10-0, Hueneme 6-1.
The Spartans' had routed their first two opponents in the tournament, Camarillo by 65 points and Oxnard by 36. And for the first five minutes of Saturday's game, it appeared that Hueneme would be disposed of as easily.
But the scrappy Vikings fought back from a 16-point halftime deficit and trailed, 32-30, after a lay-in by Nora Reyes with 3:02 remaining in the third.
"Even though we were up by a few points at halftime, I was still worried about my team's physical condition," Rio Mesa Coach George Valenzuela said. "I asked them to give me everything they had and they did."
Rio Mesa's high-powered offense scored only three points in the first five minutes of the third quarter and had to call time out to regroup after Hueneme scored six points in 43 seconds.
"I'm not making any excuses, but my players were sick," Valenzuela explained. "They didn't have any stamina. I'm not taking anything away from Hueneme, but I had to go deep into my bench for this win."
Valenzuela switched from a 2-3 zone defense to a one-on-one full-court press that forced the Vikings into five third-quarter turnovers. The Spartans were able to capitalize on those mistakes and Mitsie O'Brien scored six of her game-high 18 points in the quarter to help Rio Mesa take a 40-32 lead into the fourth period.
Rio Mesa continued to apply pressure on defense and took a 14-point lead in the fourth with three minutes left. Yvette Young scored eight of her 16 points in the final period.
Joyce Hettenbach led the Vikings with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
O'Brien had a game-high 14 rebounds, and Young pulled down 13.
Camarillo 46, Nordhoff 39--Sophomore forward Julie Piantek scored twice midway through the fourth period to give the Scorpions a 41-38 lead they never relinquished in the consolation final.
Nordoff made a run at Camarillo in the third and fourth periods and even led, 38-37, helped by the exit of Camarillo's 6-0 junior center, Michelle Hickman, who fouled out with 5:17 remaining. Piantek finished with 18 points.
RIO MESA--O'Brien 18 and 14 rebounds; Young 16 and 13 rebounds; Hoag 9; Ford 4; Hobson 2; Berninger 2; Scimunek 2; Olson 1.
PORT HUENEME--Hettenbach 13 and 13 rebounds; Reyes 10; Edsman 6; Martinez 5 and 5 assists; Cain 4 and 10 rebounds; Hernandez 2; Putnam 2.
CAMARILLO--Piantek 18 and 10 rebounds; Monasterio 7; Hickman 6; Mades 6 and 5 assists; Bach 4; Long 3; Fisher 2.
NORDHOFF--Lee 15 and 8 rebounds; Sparks 10 and 4 assists; Johnson 8; Silva 6.