No women's basketball program has had more success against the state's all-time winningest head coach Ned Mircetic and his Ventura College Pirates than Pasadena City College. Lancers head coach Joe Peron continued his mastery in head-to-head meetings between the two schools with a 62-41 rout over Ventura at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium on Wednesday.
Peron improved to 12-3 in games v. Ventura and Mircetic, who has collected 829 community college wins and seven state titles in his 29 years running Ventura's program. Peron is moving up the charts himself with now 516 wins in his 23rd season at PCC. In 2009, it was the Lancers who upset Ventura in the semifinals of the Final 8 tournament en route to the state championship. In 2007, 2011, and 2016, Peron's teams eliminated Mircetic's squads in the Southern California Regional Playoffs.
The state's No. 9-ranked Lancers are 14-3 overall and now lead the state in defense at an even 50 points allowed per game. PCC advances to the championship final of the White Bracket in the Crossover Challenge Tournament. The Lancers play state No. 5-ranked Los Angeles Trade Tech, a team that it will face two more times in South Coast Conference North Division play later this season. Updated: The final is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 11 at Cerritos College. Tip-off is 7 p.m.
Against No. 13-rated Ventura (14-7), the Lancers trailed 13-8 and were behind 16-13 after the first quarter. In the second period, Jade Lin hit back-to-back, 3-point bombs and Dariel Johnson had two baskets and two free throws to put PCC out front, 26-20. Ventura cut the lead to 32-29 by halftime. In the second half, PCC put a complete stranglehold on Ventura's offense, limiting the Pirates to only 12 points over the final 20 minutes. In the third quarter, Johnson drilled a trey and Alexandra Arreola made a short baseline jumper to cap a 15-3 run and ultimately a 47-34 Lancers lead.
It was more of the same in the fourth period as PCC used a box-and-1 defense to stop Ventura and sharp shooter Talia Taufaasau. Melissa Felix banked a 3-pointer in the final seconds to give PCC its largest lead in sealing the 21-point triumph.
Johnson finished with 22 points, making 8-for-12 from the floor and 5-for-6 at the free throw line. The sophomore post player added seven rebounds. Mariah Cathcart added 11 points and nine rebounds while Cosette Balmy also scored 11 points. Taufaasau scored 15 of her team-high 18 points in the first half. Ventura shot just 4-for-24 from the field in the second half and was held to just 27.5 percent shooting (14 of 51 attempts). PCC made 45 percent of its field goals and doubled the Pirates in 3-point baskets, 6-to-3.
Peron talked about why he's had so much success v. Ventura over the years.
"Ventura and Coach Mircetic have made me become a better coach because I'm forced to study video more in preparation to face his teams than most other schools," Peron said. "One thing we were able to do to shut down Ventura's big scorer was to face-guard her in the second half. We were able to rotate Daniela Mendez, Elise Ortega and Jade Lin defensively and they did a tremendous job."
As for his team's strong defense this season, Peron said, "I credit a lot of our defense to Dariel Johnson because she is such a great shot blocker and rebounder in the post. Teams can't go inside on us for fear of getting blocked and she doesn't allow for too many second chances with her board play. Overall, we've been able to force teams into poor shot selection."
Check this website and twitter site @pccathletics for the update on location/time for the Crossover Challenge tourney final.