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Ventura Comes Back at the End

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It took a while, but the Ventura College women’s basketball team wore down College of the Siskiyous in the second half for a come-from-behind victory, 57-45, Friday night in a semifinal game of the junior college state championships at Concordia University.

Ventura earned a fourth consecutive appearance in the championship game with the effort and will face top-ranked Sierra (35-1) at the Bren Center at UC Irvine today at 5:30 p.m.

Ventura (32-3), which lost to Sierra by 19 points in November, won back-to-back state championships in 1996 and 1997.

After playing catch-up for most of the first half, the Pirates used multiple substitutions--as many as five at a time--in the second half while Siskiyous used only two reserves the entire game.

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“We get just as tired as they do, but we’ve got a little extra so we get a longer breather,” Ventura Coach Ned Mircetic said.

The rest paid huge dividends for the Pirates in the second half.

Ventura took its third and final lead, 36-35, on a putback by Kristin De Simone with 10:50 remaining.

A 10-4 run gave Ventura a cushion, 46-39, but Siskiyous made a last-gasp effort on Sarah Jones’ three-point play and Barbara Butler’s short jumper to close to 46-44. But that was as close as the Eagles could get.

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Ventura, led by Elena Salvador’s 13 points and Renae Hofman’s 12, closed out the final three minutes with an 11-1 run.

The Pirates played from behind for most of the first half, trailing by as many as eight points with 10:12 remaining.

But Siskiyous cooled considerably thereafter and went without a field goal over the next 8:10. Ventura took its second lead of the game, 20-19, on a layup by Stefanie Kawasaki after a steal at midcourt.

Jessica Saltzman scored all 16 of her points in the first half to fuel the Eagles’ 25-22 intermission lead.

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