After a dominant start to preseason, with the PCC women’s basketball team winning their first three out of five games by double digits, the Lancers suffered their first defeat to put their current preseason record at 8-1.
With a first day loss against Reedley College, 54-51, over the weekend at the College of the Sequoias Gilcrest Invitational from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2, the Lancers were ousted from championship contention, but were able to capture the consolation title after winning their next three games to finish off the tournament strong.
In the tournament opener, PCC took a 50-48 lead on Sophomore center Dariel Johnson’s basket with 3:46 left to play. Things turned ugly from there, as PCC missed their last seven shots and converted on only 1-of-4 free throw attempts down the stretch. Reedley took the lead for good on Stephanie Cervantes’ layup with 58 seconds remaining.
“Losing the first game was kind of like a wake-up call for us,” freshman point guard Cosette Balmy stated. “We started the game thinking, we got this. We had a talk right after the game, talking about how we shouldn’t be like that. We lost the game because of ourselves so now, we’ve got to pick ourselves up and just play better.”
And play better they did.
In the consolation quarterfinals, PCC absolutely destroyed Santa Rosa, outscoring them 33-14 in the second and third quarter with the final score being 65-37. Johnson lead the way, scoring 16 points and grabbing 13 boards. Freshman forward/guard Mariah Cathcart also chipped in a double-double, tallying 11 points and 12 rebounds while sophomore shooting guard Daniela Mendez chipped in 15 points on an efficient 60 percent shooting clip to seal the deal for the Lancers.
“The first day kind of hit everybody in the heart a bit, but then we came back the second day and we bounced back,” Mendez said. “That was a championship team. That was championship basketball.”
The consolation semifinals saw PCC race to an early first-quarter lead, and they never looked back, routing Mission College 64-45. Both Johnson (18 points, 14 rebounds) and Balmy (17 points, 11 rebounds) dominated, each recording double-doubles. Freshman guard Kailey Thai made three 3-pointers and ended the game with 12 points.
In the consolation finals, PCC rallied from 11 points down after three quarters to win the title against Cerritos College, 51-48. Johnson finished the game with 16 points and nine rebounds with Cathcart adding 13 points. Balmy gave the Lancers the lead for good, 47-45, on a layup with 2:35 left. While only scoring five points, she ended the game with five assists and six steals, showcasing her playmaking and defensive ability.
“I was satisfied with my teams end result in the tournament,” head coach Joe Peron stated. “…Being consolation champions, and the growth that I witnessed in their trust of each other and especially our team defense.”
The Lancers play next at the College of the Desert Crossover Classic from Dec. 14 to 16. Their opener is against Fullerton College at 4 p.m.