The women’s basketball team plays from start to finish in a ‘no-sub’ spell due to dwindling numbers, pushing them to the brink in the 41st Gilcrest tournament. They finished in sixth place despite losing half their games, and they continue their fight today at the College of the Desert Winter Classic against Fullerton College.
The Lancers started the season with a roster of 11 players, but will be going into the game today with only seven available players. After the tournament from Nov. 30 through Dec. 3, head coach Joe Peron gave the team a few days off to rest and recuperate following a marathon of games that required the players to push their mental strength past where their bodies usually had to go.
“[The] number one thing is staying injury free. My roster has seven [players] now since the last tournament. One tournament I was down to six,” Peron said.
Injuries and illness have chipped away at the team’s numbers, but those who remain are strong and have shown in their results that they are capable of succeeding even in nearly impossible scenarios. According to the PCC Athletics website, the team managed to win their first game against Solano 71-34.
“Last year they won by a lot of points, and when we played them it just showed our improvement from when we played them last,” Mercy Odima said.
However, the win against Solano was followed by a loss against College of Sequoias, 71-62. This yo-yo of win, lose, win, lose evened out the Lancers to secure sixth place in the top 10 out of 16 teams playing at the tournament. Most schools have 12 players available, almost double what Peron has had to work with for the season.
Subbing is a luxury the team cannot afford. A change from last season, Peron said, was approaching their defense to be more conservative of their energy and relying on players like Odima, Alisa Shinn and Celine Bolton-Ford who are not only 6’2 but versatile on the court. They can go from shooting to defense, doing whatever the team needed at that moment.
“The chemistry on our team was — you can just see it. Everyone was working and doing what they were supposed to do,” Odima said, “That’s what I think about when I’m tired and all I want to do is sub but I can’t, I think about what I can do to help my team win the game.”
Every tournament the women’s basketball team has gone into so far this season has had at least one player injured or sick, Peron said. Bolton-Ford was one of the players feeling under the weather, but she didn’t let that stop her from scoring 76 points (12, 19, 22, 23) over the four day tournament.
“This game was pretty crazy, I was sick the first game, and I didn’t eat or drink for four days and I was playing every single game. The one thing going through my head was I can’t stop. I can’t give up. There’s no way I can have them believe I’m not there for them,” Bolton-Ford said.
The team is close, and the small numbers make it feel like a family.
“We all just come and play and have an equal mindset and that’s amazing,” Bolton-Ford said.
The next home game is Friday, Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. against Cerritos. The team is just halfway through their season that runs through Winter intersession, ending just before Spring term starts on Feb. 16.