Moorpark Men’s Basketball loses thriller to Ventura College

Colton+Hage+works+his+way+around+Ventura+College%E2%80%99s+Dayveon+Bates+during+their+conference+game+at+home+on+Saturday%2C+Jan.+18.++Ventura+defeated+Moorpark+97-91.+Photo+credit%3A+Jace+Kessler
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Moorpark Men’s Basketball loses thriller to Ventura College

Colton Hage works his way around Ventura College’s Dayveon Bates during their conference game at home on Saturday, Jan. 18.  Ventura defeated Moorpark 97-91. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

Colton Hage works his way around Ventura College’s Dayveon Bates during their conference game at home on Saturday, Jan. 18. Ventura defeated Moorpark 97-91. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

Jace Kessler

Colton Hage works his way around Ventura College’s Dayveon Bates during their conference game at home on Saturday, Jan. 18. Ventura defeated Moorpark 97-91. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

Jace Kessler

Jace Kessler

Colton Hage works his way around Ventura College’s Dayveon Bates during their conference game at home on Saturday, Jan. 18. Ventura defeated Moorpark 97-91. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

By Chad O'Connor

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The Moorpark College men’s basketball team dropped the Friday night conference home game to Ventura College 97-91. The Raiders fell to 9-10 overall and 1-2 in Western State Conference Northern Division play.

The Raiders started off strong behind the play of sophomore forward Mason Johnson. His initial eight points put the Raiders up 13-7 at the first timeout with 16:52 left in the first half. The Raiders found themselves up 28-18 midway through the first due to a combination of aggressive defensive pressure and a fluid offensive attack.

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Tim Andreolli fights for position as he drives toward the basket against Ventura College’s Dayshone Henry on Saturday, January 18, at Moorpark College. Ventura defeated Moorpark 97-91. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

The Pirates of Ventura College never wavered and pieced together a 6-0 run with aid from a Moorpark technical by sophomore guard Najeem Nawabi, keeping Ventura within striking distance up until the first half buzzer.

Redemption came soon for Nawabi as he added a layup just before the buzzer to keep Moorpark ahead 46-39 at the half.

Sophomore starting point guard Ben Grant felt confident about his team’s performance and the positives they were able to take from the first half.

“I think we shot the ball pretty well,” Grant said. “We’re playing well defensively and we’re rebounding a little bit better.”

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Najeem Nawabi and Mason Johnson put on the pressure, trailing Ventura College as the clock winds down during their conference game played on Saturday, January 18, at Moorpark College. Ventura defeated Moorpark 97-91. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

In the second half, however, the game was turned on its head as the Pirates continued to claw away at the Raiders lead. Ventura regained its first lead of the night since the opening minutes with a four-point play to take the lead 58-57 with 15:00 left in the game.

The game quickly became a back and forth affair with the two teams trading baskets like two heavyweight boxers slugging it out in a thrilling rivalry game. With the score 66-64 after a barrage of three pointers in quick succession, Ventura went on a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 73-64.

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Mason Johnson fights for an offensive rebound against Ventura College’s Dayveon Bates on Saturday, January 18, 2020. Ventura defeated Moorpark 97-91. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

Raiders Head Coach Chris Morgan had faith in his men despite the deficit.

“These guys have heart, if there is time on the clock, they’re not going to give up, they’re going to play through to the end,” Morgan said. “That’s one thing as a coach we stress is to make sure you play through that final whistle.”

The Raiders never faltered and with 6:36 left in the second half they forced a Ventura timeout after Johnson created a wide-open layup opportunity. Johnson’s paralyzing hesitation move left his defender in the dust to cut the Pirates’ lead down to 78-75.

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Mason Johnson makes a move toward the hoop as he tries to lessen Moorpark’s deficit against Ventura College late in the game on Saturday, January 18. Ventura defeated Moorpark 97-91. Photo credit: Jace Kessler

The Raiders continued to fight until the bitter end, but the inability to get stops late in the game haunted the Raiders. Ventura was able to extend its lead out to 94-86 before the game settled at 97-91 and a Ventura College victory.

After allowing only 39 points in the first half, the Raiders became far too complacent, which contributed to the Pirates 58 point explosion after halftime according to sophomore forward Tim Andreolli.

“I think it was just a lack of energy, they came out ready to play the second half,” Andreolli said. “We came out kinda lackadaisical cause we had a lead, so I think if we came out with energy, we win that game.”

The Raiders look to
bounce back Wednesday, Jan. 22, as they take on Oxnard
College
in an away game at 7 p.m.