Pirates' hoops job comes down to 4

Peninsula College's search for a men's head basketball coach has been narrowed to four.

College officials last week released names of the four finalists aiming to replace Peter Stewart, who took a position at Minot State University in North Dakota earlier this spring.

P.C. athletic director Rick Ross said an offer could be made as early as this week.

"We had a very competitive field of applicants," Ross said in a press release. "We are very fortunate that all four finalists are outstanding candidates, which means we are positioned to continue to offer the quality program that coach Peter Stewart has built here."

The finalists are:

_ Mitch Freeman is an assistant coach at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif. He was an assistant at Seattle University from 2005-2009. Freeman has a bachelor's of science degree from Washington State University and a master's of education degree in educational administration from Grand Canyon University

_ Tim Murphy was also an assistant at Cal Poly until 2009. Murphy was an assistant at St. Mary's College from 1997-2001 and an assistant at Cal State University before that (1994-1997). Murphy held assistant positions at the University of California at Irvine, Colorado State and Pacific Lutheran University. He was also Game Management Director for the 1994 World Cup (soccer) in Los Angeles. He has a bachelor's of arts degree in communication from Colorado State.

_ Robert Nielson, head coach at Mount Hood Community College from 1999-2009. Nielson led the Saints to a 164-99 record and four conference titles, earning four top-eight finishes at the NWAACC tournament. He was assistant coach at Brigham Young University-Hawaii from 1990-1999. He has a bachelor's of science degree in business management from BYU-Hawaii and a master's degree in physical education from Utah State.

_ Lance Von Vogt is an assistant at Arizona Western Community College. From 2005-2006 he was Director of Basketball Operations at Eastern Kentucky University. Before that he was head coach at Oxford College of Emory University, winning two region championships and earning a No. 10 ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll. From 2000-2002 he was Director of Basketball Operations at Eastern at Georgia State University. He has a bachelor's of arts degree in mass communications/broadcast news from the University of South Florida and a master's degree in education/sports administration from Georgia State.

"Our goal was to try to find someone who will continue to represent Peninsula in the sport of men's basketball the way this college and community have grown accustomed," Ross said, "and we believe we have a coach in this pool who can carry on that tradition."

The hiring committee consisted of administrators, faculty, classified staff, players and a community member, Ross said.

Stewart led the Pirates to six NWAACC tournament appearances in eight seasons. He racked up an 82-46 conference record and three North Division titles. He took the head coach position at Minot State University in North Dakota, his home state.

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