It was teacher against pupil in San Bernardino on Saturday afternoon when the Ventura College men's basketball team, led by head coach Joey Ramirez, took on the Riverside, coached by Ramirez's mentor and VC Hall of Fame coach Phil Mathews. The student got the best of the teacher in this, the first meeting coaching match-up between Ramirez and Mathews, with a 67-58 victory.
There were a handful of former Mathew's student athletes in the stands and on the sidelines, including RCC assistant Shannon Taylor, who played with Pirate assistant Hakeem Ward under Mathews at VC.
As expected, the defense was the point of emphasis for both teams. Riverside clung to a 14-12 lead through 12 minutes of play before the Pirates (3-2) used a 10-0 run over the next six minutes to take control. Ventura took a 31-23 lead into the break behind strong shooting from freshman guard Robert Hunt who had 13 of his 15 points in the opening half. Freshman forward Chris Thompson led all rebounders with five boards at intermission.
The second half resembled the first as both teams tried to force turnovers and control tempo. The Pirates accomplished their mission better than the Tigers in the final 20 minutes, forcing Riverside to take tough shots and commit turnovers that lead to easy VC buckets. Ventura led by as many as 16 points before RCC began to reel them in. Ball control and made free throws down the stretch allowed the Pirates and the pupil to secure a 67-58 victory against the teacher and the Tigers.
Sophomore forward Vondel Faniel found his rhythm in the second half, scoring 11 of his game high 17 in the period while grabbing nine of his total 10 rebounds. The double-double was Faniel's third in the first five games for the Pirates, all victories. Hunt finished with 15 points thanks to 3- 6 shooting from behind the arc and added seven rebounds. Freshman guard Elijah Brown scored 11 points with his six assists. Thompson finished with eight points and six rebounds.
As a team, VC shared the ball well assisting 22 of their 25 made field goals. The Pirates out-rebounded the Tigers by seven, 38-31 despite a size advantage for RCC.
Ventura will face College of the Desert Sunday Nov. 16 at 1:00 pm in the consolation finals of the Alvin Hunter Classic at San Bernardino Valley College.