Head coach Joseph Peron is entering his 20th season at PCC and despite the bumps in the road this offseason, he’s intent on reaching further milestones.
His team had a good season last year but they could have been better. Forward Illianna Blanc went down in their third place game in the 1st annual Honda of Pasadena Classic in November last season with a knee injury and didn’t return. With her on the court, the Lancers played smoothly and the team was hitting their stride with time.
Peron was more critical than ever heading into the upcoming season and it might be because he’s unable to be with his team for the first eight games due to a suspension for violations.
“We didn’t win 20 games. You always have to win 20 games and we didn’t do it,” Peron said. “I had a really good team last year at the beginning of the season. Then I lost two stars … This year if we can stay healthy, we will be really good.”
Two pieces from Pasadena’s previous season that won’t be returning are freshman forward Regerina Baker and sophomore co-captain Emily Thach. Baker finished her only season at PCC as a part of the All-SCC 1st team and the All-State 3rd team.
Baker earned her accolades with a team-leading 18 points per game, 11 rebounds per game, and 51 percent shooting. She finished eighth in the state in offensive rebounds and in field goals. Thach finished the season with 6 points per game and started 22 of the 27 games she played while battling a slight injury throughout the season.
Predicting how Baker can be replaced, Peron simply said, “Illianna Blanc. Phenomenal post player.”
Blanc, a red-shirt freshman, played only four games last season and was a force on both sides of the floor. She averaged 7 points per game and shot 62 percent from the field before being forced to sit out. She says she is aiming for her return in the team’s first game of the season but she isn’t sure.
“I feel really excited to be back playing this season,” Blanc said. “I’ve been working really hard towards my injury. I’m really excited but I’m mentally trying to get passed it. I feel like this season will be a good one. Hopefully by game time, I’ll be ready to go.”
Sophomore point guard Judith Espinoza played all but one game last season, averaging 16 points per game along with 8 assists and a team-leading 73 percent from the free-throw line. She finished alongside Baker on the All-SCC 1st team while also sitting second in the state, by decimals, in assists per game and seventh in free throws per game.
Espinoza is looking to control the pace every minute she is on the court and make the right decisions to make her teammates better. She thinks her team can go the distance, as long as everyone is healthy.
“I actually feel like this season we have more speed, more depth, and I have more people I can look for on the court. I’m feeling really confident for the upcoming season,” Espinoza said. “Ella, who couldn’t play last season, is playing with us and she is an amazing player. I’ve played with her before.”
Espinoza likes what she’s seen from the team so far.
“Practice has been really intense,” she said. “I can already see the fast pace and our aggressive defense. I really feel that we will have more than one person who can come in and get the job done.”
Peron currently has a career win percentage of .767 and he doesn’t seem to want to stop coaching his hometown’s basketball program any time soon. Peron is also sixth in the state for the most wins and has done it in only 19 years in contrast to his counterparts who have coached longer.
The Lancers’ first game of the season is in Bakersfield on Nov. 7 against Irvine Valley College.
The women’s basketball team returns home after their travel to Bakersfield to host the 2nd annual Honda of Pasadena Classic at the Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium starting on Friday Nov. 13.
As a sponsor of the Million Meals Marathon Food Drive, they encourage everyone who will be in attendance to bring cans of fresh pet foods to support the cause. For PCC students who bring canned pet foods to the tournament, they will be granted free entry for the weekend.