Another 3rd Place For Women's Hoops At COD Winter Classic

Lancer Celine Bolton-Ford was All-COD Tournament.
Lancer Celine Bolton-Ford was All-COD Tournament.

How the Pasadena City College women's basketball team has fared against some of the state's most powerful teams is causing some alarm from critics. The Lancers have found medium success, though, at tournaments including their second third place finish at the College of the Desert Winter Classic played Dec. 14-16.

The Lancers (9-6 overall) have collected a second place (PCC hosted President's Roundball Classic), two thirds (one at LA Southwest), and a sixth at the 16-team Sequoias tourney. 

Unranked in the state top 20, PCC lost to No. 4-ranked Mt. San Jacinto in the COD semifinals, 91-58. It was the second time, the Lancers suffered a 33-or-more-points loss, including one earlier this year against No. 2 Sequoias (by 36). PCC did lose by just nine in a later second meeting v. COS. The Lancers also avenged a loss a 6-point loss against Antelope Valley by beating the Marauders by five in a rematch at the Sequoias Tournament. So if anything, PCC has made adjustments when it has an opportunity to play a team twice. 

"We're still trying to find our identity as a team," said PCC head coach Joe Peron, now at 493 career victories in his 22nd season on the Lancers bench. "We have some big players, but not the speed we've had in other seasons. The matchups with some opponents changes our approach and strategy. We know we have the ability to score in the paint and even control the boards v. many teams, but I think our defense will have to get better for us to have a chance against the really elite teams."

At COD, PCC used its domination of the boards, outrebounding Fullerton, 65-35, in a 70-59 first round win. All-COD Tournament selection and guard Celine Bolton-Ford had another all-around effort in scoring 25 points with 12 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and three steals. Freshman center Mercy Odima had a feast in the post with 15 points and 20 rebounds (11 offensive). She was 7-for-11 from the field and contributed four assists and three blocks. Letterman forward Alisa Shinn added 15 points, 14 rebounds and also blocked three shots. First-year shooting guard Merina Latu dropped in 11 points.

In the semis, the Lancers ran into a South power buzzsaw in eventual tourney champ Mt. San Jacinto (12-1) and MVP Britney Thomas, who rang up 33 points and 13 rebounds. PCC got a taste of its own medicine as it was the Eagles who were the better rebounding team, 54-34. Bolton-Ford did what she could to help the Lancers as she scored nearly have their points with 27 (12-for-14 from the free throw line). Latu added 12 points while Jade Lin had 10 points off the bench. The duo of Odima and Shinn were shut down as they combined for only seven points (all by Odima) and 12 rebounds. 

In the third place final on Saturday, Latu scored her season high of 23 points (9-for-16 from the field) as the Lancers defeated Mission (Santa Clara), 84-80. PCC's rebound machine returned as Bolton-Ford totaled 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, Shinn delivered a true "rebound" performance from her tough night v. MSJC as she had 16 points, 17 rebounds, distributed eight assists and blocked six shots. Odima was the third Lancer to record a double-double in the contest on 12 points and 12 rebounds (plus four blocks). Lin added nine points.

Pasadena led 9-1, 15-5, and then 25-15 after one quarter. In the second period, the Lancers built the lead to 14, 33-19, but Mission chipped away and cut it to seven, 43-36, by halftime. In the third quarter, PCC again mounted a big lead of 17 before Mission whittled it to 60-54. Three minutes into the fourth quarter, Jordan Passas, who scored a game-high 29 points, hit a jumper that brought the Saints to within a basket at 64-62. Shinn and Latu came right back with layups that gave Pasadena some breathing room and the Lancers went on to collect their third place trophy.

PCC has one more tourney before the new year as it makes its annual trip to Northern California for the San Jose City College Lady Jaguar Invitational on Dec. 27-29. The Lancers open against state No. 19-rated Feather River. Also playing in the tourney is No. 6-rated Fresno City and No. 9 City College of San Francisco, both on the other side of the 8-team bracket, below:

WOMEN'S HOOPS NOTES: Shinn is No. 12 among state leaders in rebounding at 11.8 per game, followed by teammate Odima in 13th at 11.7 boards average. The pair are third and fourth in total rebounds, respectively at 177 and 176...In total blocked shots, Odima is fifth (26) and Shinn eighth (24)...Bolton-Ford is 16th in state scoring and leads all South Coast Conference players at 19.1 points per game while Shinn is 20th at 18.1...Letterman point guard Samaiyah Abdullah is fourth in total assists with 65 (21st in average at 4.3)...Since Peron became a head coach in 1996-97, the Lancers have faced 86 different college teams and have a losing record against only four--Diablo Valley and American River (both 0-1), Sequoias (0-3) and 2-time defending CCCAA state champion Mt. San Antonio (10-35).