No one said it would be easy. Pasadena City College women's basketball head coach Joe Peron watched his team let a 18-point lead slip away in regulation, then got to rejoice a little later as the 22-year coaching veteran collected milestone win No. 500 over visiting East Los Angeles, 73-69, in overtime Friday night. Peron celebrated the victory with both current and former teammates and coaches in a ceremony immediately following the contest before the home fans at Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium.
Peron's Lancers have vaulted back into postseason contention with another win over a state-ranked team in No. 11-rated ELAC. In the process, PCC is in a 3-way tie for second place in the state's toughest league--the South Coast Conference North Division. Unranked Pasadena (16-10 overall) is 4-2 in the division along with both No. 14 Mt. San Antonio and ELAC while No. 8-ranked LA Trade Tech is in first place by itself at 5-1.
Peron became the 13th California Community College women's basketball coach to reach the 500-wins mark and the seventh active at his job. He becomes just the second PCC coach to ever reach the coveted mark. Sandi Iverson won 562 games over 27 seasons as the women's softball coach from 1980-2006.
"My current players weren't even born when I picked up my first win (1996), so it's an achievement that really stands the test of time," Peron said. "Really all of this is about the players from all my teams. Several of my former players were here tonight, and it's just as much their achievement. So many great memories and so many great wins. Tonight, I think that we regained our composure after slipping in those final minutes of regulation. It was a little never-wracking but in its own way exciting to do it this way. We beat a team that has been a nemesis of ours the few years late in the playoffs."
The Lancers snapped a 5-game losing streak to the Huskies (19-5) that included elimination third-round playoff defeats in 2016 and 2017 (70-64 in overtime).
The game started out all ELAC as PCC fell behind 14-5 with 1:40 left in the first quarter. The Lancers trailed by as much as 11 at 19-8 early in the second quarter, but went on a late 12-2 scoring spurt, grabbing the halftime lead at 25-24. Mercy Odima's layup with 1:28 to go in the second period regained the Pasadena advantage.
In the third quarter, PCC upped it to 43-31 on a running lefty bank shot by Elise Ortega. The Huskies cut it back to 43-35 by the end of the period. In the fourth quarter, PCC appeared to be sailing as Samaiyah Abdullah put on a shooting clinic. The sophomore point guard made four baskets as part of a 10-0 run that made the Lancers lead reach 18 ahead at 53-35 with 6:48 left.
ELAC hasn't been a regular state tournament participant the past few years though without showing its own resiliency. The Huskies battled back, using a trap defense to force PCC into a number of turnovers. ELAC cut the deficit to one, 55-54, before PCC again thought it was about to put the game away. Odima hit two free throws, then a layup with 48 seconds left to make it 59-54. But again the Huskies responded as JaeLynn Curley made her fifth 3-pointer with 22.1 seconds to go that sent the game to OT at 59-59.
In the 5-minute extra period, PCC went ahead for the last time, 65-63, on two free throws by Jade Lin with 3:06 remaining. Alisa Shinn hit a jumper and a pair of free throws that capped an 8-0 rally for a 71-63 lead with 1:22 left. This time, ELAC could not get free for 3-point opportunites as the Lancers ran out the clock.
Shinn was dominating on the boards as she matched her career-high with 25 rebounds to go with 19 points and four blocked shots. Odima was also a force inside as she tallied 20 points (9-for-14 from the field) and pulled down 13 rebounds. Abdullah totaled 15 points. Ortega netted eight points while Jacquelyn Luna made a difference off the bench, scoring six points with three rebounds.
On its longest win streak of the season at four games, the Lancers will face LA Trade Tech on Wednesday, Feb. 7 in a 5 p.m. tip-off. It is the annual Coaches v. Cancer Night for PCC.
- LIST OF ACTIVE 500-WIN HEAD COACHES/PLACE ON ALL-TIME LIST
(wins are up to date)
1. Ned Mircetic, Ventura (all-time winningest coach), 28 seasons, 811
3. Tom Powers, Siskiyous/Butte, 36 seasons, 697
4. Gina Johnson, San Joaquin Delta/Foothill, 26 seasons, 617
5. Mike Thornton, Orange Coast, 29 seasons, 583
10. Greg Herrick, Canyons, 26 seasons, 558
11. Terri Oberg-Hearns, San Jose City, 28 seasons, 545
12. Brian Tessler, Fresno City/Reedley, 21 seasons, 516
13. Joe Peron, Pasadena City, 22 seasons, 500