Having only won two of their eight South Coast Conference (SCC) matches, women’s basketball still managed to qualify for the playoffs despite Wednesday’s close loss to Mt. SAC.
The Lancers were ahead 3 points by the last time-out of the first quarter and ended it 18-14. Freshman center and January’s California Community College Sports Information Association (CCCSIA) State Athlete of the Month, Dariel Johnson, made the first point of the game and contributed the most rebounds and blocks on the team. Freshman point guard Cosette Balmy scored the most points during the game, 19, tallied four assists, and aided Johnson in racking up 14 rebounds between the two.
Defense was lagging as the Lancers began the second quarter. The entire home team crowd, the Lancer cheerleaders, and the PCC coaches spent most of the quarter chanting “Defense!”, hoping to inspire a response from the players.
“I don’t know what worked … what didn’t work,” said head coach Joe Peron. “Our defense down the stretch didn’t work.”
The Lancers did, however, collect 17 total steals with Balmy and sophomore guard Jade Lin accounting for 10, while making impressive use of their free-throws throughout the game. The third quarter ended 46-41 with the Lancers in the lead. The fourth quarter, however, looked promising for PCC until the second time out about six minutes in. With defense still on the fritz, Mt. SAC was able to close the gap in points halfway through.
“We executed really great in the first half and we ran the plays right,” said freshman center Teana DuBose. “We came back after half-time and we came [out] strong and we had a game plan, but once we got to the end, I feel like the plays that we were running didn’t execute well.”
Towards the end of the fourth quarter, freshman center Alexandra Arreola felt that some of her teammates had lost their fighting spirit.
“Overall, [Mt. Sac] just wanted it more than we did,” Arreola said.
Friday, however, was the Lancers final conference game and the last of the season. In an away game against Chaffey College, PCC decided that they “wanted it more,” and poached the Panthers 70-26.
“Let’s go hard on Friday and try to make it to playoffs,” DuBose said. “Just come in stronger, be ready, and have our heads focused.”
Defense was ruthless in their final match, especially in the second and third quarters, with 32 total defensive rebounds grabbed by the Lancers. Almost every player scored points, with Johnson contributing 16 points, 14 rebounds, 8 defensive rebounds, and 6 offensive rebounds alone. Balmy was right behind her teammate, adding 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists.
The entire team worked as one to achieve 19 assists, 18 steals, and 54 rebounds for their final SCC match with the Panthers. With the season complete, the Lancers now await their postseason position in the playoffs.