After a disappointing finish in the 2013 Rose City Classic, the women’s basketball team avenged their two losses with its first place finish in the “Glendale College Vaquero Shootout”.
In their first game of the tournament, the Lancers (4-2) faced familiar foe Irvine Valley College. It was IVC (4-2) who defeated the Lancers at home to take third place in the Rose City Classic earlier this season.
Against IVC, the Lancers received a balanced attack from its sophomore class, defeating the Lasers 69-66. Skai Thompson led the Lancers in scoring with 16 points and three rebounds. Point guard Desiree Loving added 14 points, five rebounds and six assists, while versatile forward/guard Tyler Crockom stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
“We had a stern talk with the players about the difference between playing selfish and playing as a team,” head coach Joe Peron said. “We made great decisions on our field goal attempts, we moved the ball around, and we ran plays instead of wildly driving to the basket with no plan. The whole team stepped up to play the type of Lancers basketball that we envisioned in the pre-season.”
In the tournament semifinal, the Lancers faced another familiar team in long-time rival Ventura College. The rivalry between the two teams was created in 2009 when the Lancers and Pirates played one of the greatest state tournament games ever, a 106-93 win by the Lancers’ that led to the program’s only state championship.
On Saturday the Lancers overcame a 42-32 halftime deficit to defeat the Pirates 75-70 and advance to the tourney finals.
“We were challenged this weekend,” assistant coach La’Nette Dillard said. “We finally got over the hump and played like we’re supposed to play. The ladies are starting to understand their capabilities and how talented this team can be and they really showed what they’re capable of this weekend.”
Lancers head coach Joe Peron is now 7-2 against Ventura and 5-0 in regular season meetings. This has all occurred against Ventura coaching legend Ned Mircetic, who only has a losing record against one other college. Mircetic has 681 wins in his 24th season at Ventura and Peron is also the Lancer’s winningest coach with 415 victories in his 18th year.
In the second half, the Lancers came back several times to shorten the score, finally tying it at 68-68 on a Loving basket with 2:48 remaining. Crockom’s rebound and basket gave the Lancers’ the lead for good at 71-69 with 1:13 left to play. A turn-around bank by Skai Thompson sealed the game 73-70 with 42 seconds on the clock.
Loving scored a game-high 19 points, adding six assists and five rebounds. Thompson tallied 16 points, freshman guard Emily Thach scored 10 points, and center Kaitlyn Parks, again hampered by early foul trouble, scored 10 points with six rebounds. The team again shot well from the field, making 27 of 59 attempts (46 percent).
The Lancers received another strong effort from Crockom with five points, six rebounds, and five assists. Reserve forward Brandi DuBose added six points, four boards, and a key defensive charge late in the game, and reserve center Bailey Williams contributed five points and a team-high eight rebounds.
A 62-45 finals victory over Chaffey College Sunday capped a 3-game run by the Lancers women’s basketball team. The Lancers’ downed their third straight Top 20 team for the well-earned first-place trophy.
“We played great this tournament,” Crockom said. “We played as a team and when we play together like we did this past week, we can be dominant.”
Against No. 14 Chaffey, the Lancers made 15 of 29 shots from the floor in the second half to distance themselves from the Panthers. The Lancers finished hitting 44.1 percent from the floor, the third straight game in which they were near the 50 percent mark in shooting. The defense shut down Chaffey, which made just 28 percent of its shots.
Chaffey initially led 14-9, but the Lancers went ahead 27-20 by halftime. The Lancers completely stifled Chaffey in the second half, limiting the Panthers to just four points in the final 7-1/2 minutes of play.
Parks led the way in the final, scoring 14 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and forcing three steals. Thompson added 11 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Over the entire tournament, it was the play of tournament MVP Crockom that helped the Lancers on both ends of the court. Crockom totaled an efficient nine points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals against Chaffey. In the three games, she was strong on both ends of the floor with 25 points, 19 rebounds, and 14 assists. Also, All-Glendale Tournament selection Loving was a force, totaling 41 points, 18 assists and 14 rebounds as she continued to be the Lancers’ most consistent player thus far in the early season.
“I was caught by surprise being named MVP,” Crockom added. “It feels good to be acknowledged, but I have to definitely thank my teammates because it wouldn’t have been possible without them and the effort that we all put forth.”
The Lancers defeated No. 3 Ventura and No. 18 Irvine Valley in showing their early success against top-rated opponents.
The Lancers will next play at the Irvine Valley College Tournament December 5-7.