The Lancers women’s basketball team was rewarded with a No. 4 seed in the 2014 CCCAA Women’s Basketball Regional Championships and will host the No. 13 seeded College of the Canyons. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium on Friday.
The Lancers (21-7, 10-3) finished in second place in the South Coast Conference, North Division, behind Mt. SAC. The Cougars (13-14, 7-5) finished the regular season in a three-way tie with Moorpark and Cuesta College in the Western State Conference, North Division.
“Of course we want to try to work our inside game,” head coach Joe Peron said. “Defensively we have to do a better job than we did against them in December. We’re going to try to isolate them and play better defense.”
After winning eight of their final 10 regular season games, the Lancers once again won 20 or more regular season games for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons. The Cougars finished the regular season winners of five of their last seven games and catapulted to the top of the Western State Conference, North Division.
“We want to get in the paint early and get our fast-break going,” sophomore point guard Desiree Loving said.
The Lancers are led by a balanced attack of sophomores in Loving, guards Skai Thompson, Tyler Crockom and center Kaitlyn Parks. With the depth of this year’s team, freshmen guards Emily Thach and Kiara Phillips will also be important in the Lancers’ playoff run.
“We have good shooters on the outside so we have to make them respect our outside shots to open up the paint for us.” Loving added.
Loving finished an impressive sophomore campaign averaging 12.8 points, five rebounds and 4.8 assists. Parks finished the regular season averaging 12.3 points and eight rebounds for the Lancers, but was hampered late in the regular season with an ankle injury.
Loving, the pesky defender and floor general is an extension of the head coach, according to Peron.
“You don’t win basketball games without a point guard,” Peron said. “Desiree is Joe Peron on the floor.”
Although the Lancers are up against the sophomore tandem of Keiona Mathews (25 points, 10.8 rebounds) and Shawn Kolani (16.3 points and 8.3 assist), look for the Lancers to establish the 6-foot-4 Parks inside early and often.
“KP is almost 100 percent and we’re happy to have her back to complete our roster,” assistant coach La’Nette Dillard added. “The ladies stepped up in her absence and now that we have our roster at full strength we’re excited to play at home in front of our home crowd.”
In Parks’ absence, sophomore forward Brandi Dubose improved her play to help give Peron another capable scorer and tenacious defender. Over the last five games of the regular season Dubose averaged 7.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, and two steals for the Lancers.
“Brandi is a unique basketball player,” Peron said. “She loves to play defense, she can guard the little guards and give them havoc. At the same time Brandi loves to rebound and she gives us a great rebounding presence offensively and defensively.”
With the plethora of talent and athleticism on this year’s team, Peron is looking for one of his most athletic players to shine come playoff time.
“I’m looking for Skai [Thompson] to utilize her skills and athleticism this postseason,” Peron said. “Skai is not only the most athletic, but the strongest guard we have. She really has to be our go-to driver.”
Although the Lancers are fully loaded with scorers, the ladies’ are focused on defense and keeping their intensity up for the entire 40 minutes.
“The key to advancing on is to execute our plays and play aggressive defense,” Crockom added. “We have to make sure that we go out there and play lancer basketball. We have to play as if this is the championship game and our intensity has to be there and we have to play together as a team.”
The winner of the game will take on the winner of No. 5 Long Beach City/No. 12 Mt. San Jacinto game on Wednesday, March 5.
EDIT: Due to the rain, the game has been rescheduled for March 1. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.