California rivals honor Thomas Fire first responders

California rivals honor Thomas Fire first responders

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California rivals honor Thomas Fire first responders

California Rivals Buena and Ventura met Friday, but something much larger than a mere basketball game was the focus.

The teams fittingly met on the day the Thomas Fire was contained after 39 days.

Ventura High principal Carlos Cohen made the announcement to a loud ovation by the sellout crowd at Tuttle Gymnasium during a pregame ceremony that included a celebration of local first responders who fought the fire.

“It’s very important for us and the community to take advantage of the time we have together,” Cohen said. “We really wanted to honor our first responders, as well as all of the community members.

“It’s a rivalry game, but at the same time whether we’re Buena or Ventura High School, we’re all Venturans. Tonight we wanted to remind everyone that, no matter how different we are, we’re all Venturans, we’re all the same.”

There was also a moment of silence for victims of Tuesday’s mudslides in Montecito and firefighter Cory Iverson, who died fighting the Thomas Fire.

USA TODAY High School Sports contributed to this report

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