Ventura holds off Buena to capture TOC Gold title

Ventura and Buena brought their intense girls basketball rivalry to Santa Barbara on Friday for the Gold Division championship of the Tournament of Champions.

Ventura took advantage of a technical foul on Buena’s coach and hit six straight free throws to open up a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter. The Cougars then held off their crosstown rivals with clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch for a 57-54 victory at J.R. Richards Gym.

The Green Division final featured two Oxnard-area schools, and Rio Mesa pulled away from Pacifica early in the second half and rolled to a 59-42 win.

Ventura's Meghan Shank is guarded by Buena's Taylor McGuire. Shank scored 24 points and was named the Gold Division MVP. (Vince Agapito photos).

Ventura senior guards Meghan Shank and Sam Meyer continually came up with clutch shots and free throws to turn back Buena in the third meeting between the schools in a tournament championship game this month. Shank, the Gold Division MVP, poured in a game-high 24 points and Meyer added 19.

“This is what makes our season, these games,” said Shank.

Meyer made four straight free throws at the start of the fourth quarter to open up a 44-36 league for the Cougars. She was awarded two shots after being fouled on a drive to the hoop and got two more free throws when Buena coach Dave Guenther was hit with a technical foul.

Marki Meyer hit two more free throws to increase the Ventura lead to 10 points, 46-36, with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter.

But Buena, which beat Ventura by one to win its Kiwanis Tournament two weeks ago, roared back behind standout Taylor McGuire. She converted a three-point play and followed with a driving basket to spark an 8-0 run, putting the Bulldogs within two, 46-44.

Shank scored off a long pass from Meyer to put the Cougars up by four. But Buena kept attacking the basket and pulled even at 48-48 after a free throw and basket by Cynthia Hernandez and another free throw by Carly Maciel.


Ventura (11-1), which beat the Bulldogs to win its Optomist Tournament in early December, kept its composure, ran its passing game and got an inside basket from Marki Meyer and a three-point play by Sam Meyer to take a 53-48 lead with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter.

“I think we controlled the ball a lot better and we made it more our pace, our style of game. Plus, we came together,” Shank said of the difference in Friday’s win.

Buena (11-2) kept things interesting when Megan Cooper hit a high-arching 3-pointer with 27.5 seconds remaining

After Shank converted a pair of free throws to make it 55-51, Tatum Maciel nailed a trey to pull the Bulldogs to within one, 55-54, with 5.8 seconds left.

But Shank and the Cougars were clutch down the stretch. Shank made one free throw and missed the second, but Ventura got the rebound and Shank was fouled again. She made one more free throw with 1.5 seconds left to seal the victory and its second tournament title over the Bulldogs.

In the Green Division final, Ashley Ontiveros scored 17 points, Ashley Rodriguez tallied 13 and Brittany Rodriguez added 10 points, as Rio Mesa’s uptempo game wore down Pacifica. Riley Abraham, the division MVP, finished with five points, nine rebounds, four steals and five blocks.

Brooke Dixon scored 11 points to lead Pacifica.