Ventura gets hot, rains on Royals

Ventura flipped a switch in the Thunderhut on Friday night, and the Cougars avoided their first Channel League lost in their past 12 league games with a big second half against San Marcos.

After the Royals controlled the first half to take a 17-9 lead at halftime, Ventura came alive in the second half and galloped past the Royals 45-34.

San Marcos basketball

San Marcos' Spencer Johnson tries to avoid an over-and-back call on the Royals. (John Dvorak/Presidio Sports)

“There’s 10 more Channel League games,” said Royals head coach Jarrod Bradley. “You  want to win them all but you can’t dwell on it now. We got to look at what we did wrong, what we can do better, what we did well, and try to build off of that.”

Ventura outscored the Royals 36-17 in the second half but changed the feel of the game in the third quarter. The Cougars dropped in five 3-pointers in that period alone and quickly turned a 17-9 deficit into a 32-23 lead. Cade Ridenour knocked down a 3-pointer to make the score 32-26 at the end of three.

On Ventura’s first possession of the final quarter, the Cougars broke out in transition and Gage Henley found Nick Rudolph for an alley-oop dunk. Henley led all scorers with 14 and Zach Gwin added 12 points – including a pull-up 26-foot 3-pointer. Rudolph had seven for the Cougars.

“That was probably my best dunk so far and it was a huge momentum changer,” Rudolph said. “San Marcos is a really good team; Buena is a really good team and beating two really good teams is a great way to start off the season.”

Ventura connected on seven 3-pointers in the game while San Marcos was 3-of-13 from behind the arc.

Thayer White carried San Marcos. The senior captain posted totals of 13 points and 15 rebounds. Ridenour finished with seven.

“They played real well defensively in the first half, and I think we wore them down a little bit,” said Ventura assistant coach Felix Cortez. “I think that was kind of a key too; we were a little bit better conditioned I think in the end.

Cortez was running things in the absence of head coach Dan Larson who’s in Arizona for his son’s college graduation. It was also his birthday and the team sang happy birthday to him on the phone in the locker room after the game.

“So he had two great birthday presents today,” Cortez said.