No Strategy Able to Slow Ventura, 78-59


Each team has its own formula when trying to beat Ventura College, the defending state men’s basketball champion.

On Thursday night, Bakersfield tried to slow the pace, control the ball and keep it away from the Pirates as much as possible.

The plan might have worked better if the Renegades didn’t commit 26 turnovers.

Ventura, although forced into a low-scoring game, took advantage of the poor ballhandling for a 78-59 victory in a Western State Conference interdivisional matchup before 2,000 at the Pirate gym.


The Pirates (17-2), ranked third in the state, didn’t trail after Bakersfield (13-7) opened the scoring on a baseline shot by Lamont Barnes moments after the tipoff.

They led by as many as 12 points--28-16--in the first half and stepped on the gas pedal after intermission, building the cushion to 59-37 with 11 minutes 48 seconds to play on a dunk by sophomore forward Mel Claxton.

Claxton carried Ventura in the first half with 10 points and finished with 16.

“Our guys were excited about playing here and we didn’t run our offense,” said Mark Arce, Bakersfield coach. “We went one on one too much.”

Defensively, the Pirates wanted to key on Barnes, who went into the game averaging 22.6 points, seventh-best in the state. They also had to contend with guard Lovell Brown, who arrived with a 21.0-point average.

Ventura couldn’t contain Barnes, who finished with a game-high 24 points despite scoring only seven in the first half, but the Pirates held Brown to five.

“We were trying to focus on them,” said Gerald Zimmerman. “We didn’t want [Barnes] to get too many touches.”


Zimmerman, a sophomore guard who specializes in three-point shots, cashed in when he touched the ball. He connected on four of seven shots and scored 14 points, including three three-pointers.

Center Curtis Ganes scored 10 points for the Pirates, who shot 44.8% (26 of 58) from the field but, in keeping with recent tradition, were awful from the free-throw line (18 of 33, 54.5%).

The Renegades, who have not defeated Ventura in Arce’s four-season tenure, got a career-high 21 points from guard Charles Woolfolk.

Bakersfield didn’t do much better, shooting 42.9% (24 of 56) from the field and 50.0% (9 of 18) from the line.

“To hold them to 59 points is a tribute to some good defense we played tonight,” said Virgil Watson, Ventura coach.

“That was a good basketball team we beat.”