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VENTURA : Reception to Honor Basketball Team

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Fans of the champion Ventura College Pirates, who last weekend took the top prize for state community college men’s basketball, will get a chance to honor their team at an afternoon reception to be held at the campus today.

Boosters have arranged a noon rally for Coach Phil Mathews and his team in the quad area at Ventura College to celebrate the championship.

“Phil is not just a basketball coach for two hours on Wednesday and Friday nights,” said Tim Suel, a Ventura College counselor who grew up with the coach in Riverside.

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“He works very hard with his kids on the court and to make sure they are academically prepared to move on to a university,” Suel said. “He truly promotes what is referred to as a student athlete. In his program you are definitely a student first and an athlete second.”

The Ventura College Pirates last weekend secured the state community college basketball championship by beating West Valley, 80-61, in Irvine. It was the second state championship a Mathews-coached Pirate team has won in the past eight years and the third in the college’s history.

Mathews has won the conference championship in each of the 10 years he has guided the Pirates.

Pirate team members also have been booked as a special addition to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade through downtown Ventura on Saturday.

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