"One of these days," people probably have been saying about the winning streak by the Ventura College men's basketball team.
One of these crazy days they'll look up and find themselves on the wrong end of the score.
That day almost came Saturday.
The Pirates trailed late in the game and had to rally for a 78-72 victory over Oxnard in a Western State Conference North Division game before a capacity crowd of 1,500 at the Condor gym.
Ventura, ranked No. 1 in the state, improved to 28-0, 6-0 in division play. Oxnard dropped to 14-13, 1-5, but not without giving the Pirates one of their toughest tests of the season.
Only three weeks ago, Ventura routed the Condors, 113-87, at home but Oxnard was not at full strength then. The Condors had all their key personnel in place for this one and pushed Ventura to the limit.
"We just needed to control (the tempo) a little more (than in the first game)," said Ron McClurkin, Oxnard coach. "If you are smart and hang on to the ball, you can play with them."
Ventura led, 53-48, right after intermission when forward Brandon Lee sank a free throw and guard Anthony Talley made consecutive layups to tie the score, 53-53.
Lee, who led all scorers with 26 points, then gave the Condors their first lead of the night, 55-53, with a layup with 12 minutes 51 seconds to play.
The teams traded the lead for the next few minutes until Ventura was able to put together the clinching rally.
With the score tied, 67-67, guard Gerald Zimmerman made a 10-foot jump shot to give Ventura a two-point edge. Two free throws and a basket from the left corner by guard Lance Fay put the Pirates ahead, 74-68, and Oxnard could not catch up again.
"(The Pirates) didn't shoot as well as they can," McClurkin said. "I was surprised they didn't try to pound it inside on us."
Ventura made 27 of 61 shots (44.2%).
The Pirates shot well in the early going, when they jumped to an 8-0 lead with the help of a three-point basket by Fay, who played at Oxnard two seasons ago, and forward Charles Woodard.
The Condors, however, wouldn't let Ventura stretch that cushion in the first half and rallied to within 25-24 with five consecutive points. Forward Quincy Shannon hit two free throws for the final points of the run with 8 minutes 27 seconds to play before halftime.
After the Pirates went ahead, 34-26, forward Brandon Lee made six consecutive points on putback shots to cut the Ventura lead to 34-32.
Lee had 14 points in the half. Guard Rafer Alston finished with a teeam-high 17 points for Ventura and Fay had 13. Forwards Larry Reed and Amiri Johnson each scored 14 for the Condors.