Offensive struggles cost men's basketball team in playoff loss

Courtesy of On My Game Photography
Courtesy of On My Game Photography

Irvine Valley's men's basketball team made a late charge, but it wasn't enough and saw its 2016-17 season come to an end on Wednesday night at home.

The Lasers, seeded 15th, fell to No. 18 Ventura, 63-56, in the first round of the CCCAA Southern California Regional Playoffs.

Ventura moves on to face No. 2 El Camino-Compton on Saturday in the second round.

To say Irvine Valley started the game slow would be an understatement.

The Lasers were down, 9-2, three minutes and 20 seconds into the contest. Thomas Frank drilled two three-pointers and Calvin Young added a three-pointer for the Pirates, who were the champions of the Western State Conference North Division this season.

IVC pulled within 12-7 after a three-pointer by freshman guard Bekim Djokovic with 12:49 left in the first half.

But the Lasers would go cold after that. Irvine Valley didn't score for almost six minutes.

Ventura went on a 14-0 run capped by a layup by Vida Faniel. It gave the Pirates a 26-7 lead with 7:19 remaining in the half.

IVC trailed, 36-17, at the half. Irvine Valley shot just 23.1 percent (6 of 26) as a team in the opening half. Meanwhile, Ventura shot 48.3 percent.

And it was a 39-17 lead for Ventura after Cordel Hankerson drilled a three-pointer a little over a minute into the second half.

Ventura still led, 52-32, with 10:23 left to play after consecutive three-pointers by Faniel and Hankerson.

That is when Irvine Valley finally found some rhythm offensively.

The Lasers went on a 14-2 run that included a three-pointer by sophomore guard Mike Turner and six straight points by freshman forward Lance Coleman II.

A free throw by Coleman II made it a 54-45 game with 3:38 left.

Soon after, Coleman buried a three-pointer and sophomore point guard Zuri Williams made a layup to get Irvine Valley within 56-50 with 1:53 to go.

Fidel made two free throws and Eddie Cowan knocked down one free throw to put Ventura up, 59-50, with 55 seconds left.

Coleman found some room and drilled another three-pointer to make it 59-53 and keep IVC alive with 47 seconds to play.

But IVC had to play the foul game the rest of the way and Cowan made four free throws down the stretch to seal the game for Ventura.

Irvine Valley was better in the second half, but still shot just 31.7 percent (19 of 60) for the game.

Coleman ended up with 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead Irvine Valley.

Williams finished with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals and Turner, sophomore forward Zach Harvey and Djokovic each had seven points for the Lasers.

Faniel, who was named his conference's MVP this season, paced Ventura with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Hankerson had 14 points and eight rebounds and Isiah Reyes finished with 11 points and seven assists off the bench for the Pirates.

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