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Build a State Finalist and They Will Come


VENTURA — The madness is growing at Ventura College.

For the fourth consecutive year, the men's basketball team will begin its first practice of the season at midnight.

Pirate Coach Philip Mathews started "Midnight Madness" at Ventura in 1991, drawing on his experience as an assistant coach at Cal State Fullerton. Only 50 fans showed up, but attendance has increased each year since, including 300 in 1992.

Nearly 1,000 showed up last season on the heels of an appearance in the junior college state championship game. His team is coming off a second appearance in the state finals, and Mathews is hoping for 1,500 fans this time around.

"This is really for the community to come out to celebrate the opening of the season and for the kids to have some fun," Mathews said. "They're going to be ready to play."

The Pirates will stage a three-point and slam-dunk contest followed by an intrasquad scrimmage. Admission is free, and local businesses and restaurants have donated door prizes.

Mathews said practice will begin next week. Ventura opens the season Nov. 12 at Imperial Valley.

Ventura has played in the state championship game the last two seasons, finishing second both times.

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