Familiar End To Another Women's Basketball Season

Dariel Johnson (right) and Cosette Balmy (left) battle for the ball during the Lancers Round 3 Regional final playoff loss at East Los Angeles College, photo by Richard Quinton.
Dariel Johnson (right) and Cosette Balmy (left) battle for the ball during the Lancers Round 3 Regional final playoff loss at East Los Angeles College, photo by Richard Quinton.

For the third time in four years, the Pasadena City College women's basketball team's potential trip to a state tournament was derailed by the same opponent and at the same location--East Los Angeles College. A third meeting this season between the two teams was controlled by the Huskies, 78-53, in Round 3 of the Southern California Regional Playoffs Saturday evening.

PCC, the No. 6 seed and No. 14-rated team in the state, finished at 19-11. The No. 3-seed East LA improved to 27-6 and advanced to the CCCAA State Championships next week (March 15-17) at Ventura College.

PCC's shooting issues throughout the 2018-19 season culminated with another disappointing game trying to put the ball through the hoop. The Lancers were just 15-for-66 from the field (23 percent), including 6 of 27 on 3-pointers (22 percent). While PCC's free throw shooting was slightly better, the 17-for-30 (57 percent) was not up to par in comparison to ELAC.

The Huskies converted an outstanding 20-for-23 from the line (87 percent) and nearly made half of their 3-point tries (6-for-13). Overall, East LA made 11 more field goals than Pasadena. Jaelynn Curley led the attack with a game-high 21 points as the South Coast Conference's top 3-point specialist sank 5-for-9 from outside the arc. Jennifer Pool added 18 points.

For the Lancers, frosh point guard Cosette Balmy scored 17 points (10-for-17 on free throws) to go with six rebounds, three steals and three assists. Redshirt freshman center Dariel Johnson had an up and down game but tallied 15 points, nine rebounds, eight blocks and three steals. To avoid foul trouble, Johnson sat almost the entire second quarter (played last minute) after scoring eight of her team's 10 points in the first period. Sophomore guard Jade Lin was the only Lancer to shoot well from the outside, making 4-of-9 from 3-point range for her 12 points.

PCC ended up playing its best 10 minutes in that second quarter as they cut a 17-point lead to seven at 27-20 with more than five minutes left before halftime. Pasadena went on a 9-0 run while the Huskies went scoreless for five minutes. But when Zaida Velasquez made a put-back it would be the last hurrah for the Lancers. ELAC countered with a 12-0 run that included treys by Curry and Pool. By halftime, the Lancers trailed, 39-25.

In the third quarter, the Huskies scored the first seven points and built their lead to 21 points. The lead got to as big as 27 points by the end of the third quarter at 60-33. While PCC had its highest-scoring quarter in the fourth with 20 points, ELAC's giant lead never was threatened.

That Pasadena lost to its SCC North Division rival may have been fitting as eight of PCC's 11 defeats this season were against SCC North foes (three by ELAC, two each by champion LA Trade Tech and Mt. San Antonio, one v. Rio Hondo). East LA has won 12 of its last 14 games v. the Lancers dating back to 2014. Pasadena's road record in regional play fell to 5-11.

Pasadena head coach Joe Peron saw his postseason record drop to 37-21, but directed his team to the playoffs for the 22nd time in his 23 years at the program's helm. PCC last went to the state tournament in 2010 when the program capped a streak of seven straight appearances at the CCCAA tourney.

Two-year lettermen Lin, the team's 3-point leader the past two seasons, Elise Ortega, and Tatianna Shoals played their final game as a Lancer as did transfer Daniela Mendez

Johnson closed the year as PCC's top scorer (14.8 points) and rebounder (14.5) while her 128 blocks led the state (4.3 average).