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Tougher Road for Ventura

By being seeded No. 2 in the men’s basketball Southern California regional that starts Friday night, Antelope Valley College is guaranteed home-court advantage as long as it stays alive in the single-elimination tournament.

But, for the first time since 1989, Ventura won’t have the same luxury.

The Pirates (24-7), two-time defending state champions, are seeded fifth and would have to play at No. 4 Irvine Valley if the teams meet in the third round.

Ventura opens against No. 28 Rio Hondo (15-17) on Saturday at home and Antelope Valley (27-4) plays host to No. 31 Trade Tech (10-18) the same night.

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“Hey, I like the setup this year,” said Newton Chelette, Antelope Valley coach.

Valley (23-9), the Western State Conference Southern Division champion, is seeded eighth and is at home against No. 25 Victor Valley (14-14) on Saturday and Glendale (13-18), seeded No. 29, travels to Irvine Valley.

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On the women’s side, defending state champion Ventura (31-1), Canyons (29-4) and Valley (23-10) received first-round byes and have to win only two games to reach the state championships.

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Canyons and Valley can’t both make it since one would knock out the other in a potential third-round matchup.

Ventura, top-seeded in the regional and top-ranked in the state, is at home throughout, starting Tuesday night against the winner of the first-round game between Hancock and Cerro Coso.

Canyons, seeded No. 2, plays host to the Long Beach-Chaffey winner on Tuesday and No. 7 Valley plays host on Wednesday to the Rancho Santiago-Pasadena winner.

The men’s and women’s state championships are March 13-15 at San Jose State.

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Chelette was selected Foothill Conference Northern Division coach of the year for the third season in a row, but says much of the credit for the team’s success belongs to assistants Barry Green and Brad Wiggs.

Green and Wiggs ran practices for two weeks earlier this month while Chelette recovered from pneumonia.

Chelette, who attended games only, said he’ll give plaques to Green and Wiggs with the inscription, “Co-Coach of the Year.”

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Valley point guard Shawanda Hotchkiss, recovering from knee surgery, is wearing a soft cast on her left leg and using crutches but expects to be playing by the summer.

“I still have some swelling,” Hotchkiss said. “It feels like it’s been forever. I can’t wait to start walking.”

Hotchkiss was averaging 20.7 points when she tore ligaments in the knee in a game against Santa Monica on Jan. 22.

She will play for the University of San Francisco next season.

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It sure looked as if the Canyons women’s basketball team tried to rub it in against Valley on Saturday.

The Cougars took three-point shots on nearly every possession in the final minute, trying to reach 100 points. Canyons won, 98-73.

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Funny, but Coach Greg Herrick says he doesn’t try to run up the score on other teams.

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Coach Ken Stanley has his always solid Pierce men’s volleyball team off to a 2-1 start in South Coast Conference play even though the Brahmas have only four sophomores.

Top newcomers include Scott Sheridan, a 6-foot-9 middle blocker from Thousand Oaks High, and Keith Barnett, a 6-4 setter from Naperville, Ill.

Sheridan attended Cal State Northridge in the fall but was academically ineligible to play for the Matadors and transferred.

"[Barnett] is probably our best all-around athlete,” Stanley said.


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