The Pasadena City College women's basketball team began the 2021-2022 season last week with one of the winningest head coaches in California Community College history at the helm--Joe Peron, now in his 25th season directing the Lancers.
Coming into the season, Peron had won 539 games, including 37 playoff victories, six conference titles, and one state championship (2009) as well as several coaching accolades--the 2008-2009 South Coast Conference Women's Sports Coach of the Year, WBCA Regional Coach of the Year (2005), and a few State Coach of the Year honors.
Peron and his squad entered unfamiliar territory in losing its two season-opening games at the annual Bakersfield Crossover Tournament. When PCC lost the season opener to Bakersfield, 60-52, on Nov. 4 it marked the first time in the 21st century that a Lancers team lost a season's first game. The last time it happened was in the 1999 season.
In the loss, PCC led 14-11 after the first quarter, 33-26 by halftime, and still had a 1-point lead, 44-43, going into the final quarter. Bakersfield limited the Lancers to eight points in the final eight minutes and pulled away for the comeback win.
For the Lancers, newcomer blue-chip guard-forward Lupe Vazquez scored 20 points, grabbed nine rebounds and was 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Frosh point guard Maiya Villanueva added nine points, five rebounds and three steals. Sophomore point guard Kaniya Hill, the lone returner from the 2019-2020 Lancers, came off the bench for seven points and five steals.
The next night, the 5-foot-8 Vazquez was a scoring demon as she tied for the fourth-highest, single-game point total in program history with 38 points. Unfortunately, the rest of the Lancers combined for just 19 points as Antelope Valley handed them a 66-57 defeat. Vazquez made five 3-pointers and put up a remarkable 35 shot attempts from the field (netted 14). She added 12 rebounds. The only other PCC player of note was Villanueva with nine points, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.
"I'm looking to see our team be more productive in clock management," Peron said. "We need to be more in sync on offense and improve on our team defense."
Vazquez was a prep sensation at Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary High (Montebello) as she was an All-CIF Southern Section Division IIA selection, Pasadena Star-News All-Area, All-Del Rey League First Team and the 2019-2020 East L.A. Sports Scene Player of the Year. She averaged 23.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game as a senior.
Peron is high on her potential. "Lupe is a shooter/scorer, which we haven't had here since Dionne Pounds and Jeanine Deno (both State Players of the Year)," Peron said. "Lupe's father did a great job in grooming her into an effective offensive machine. I'm happy that Coach Gary Potts (PCC assistant) and myself convinced her to attend PCC. She is a definitely a candidate to reach our coveted 1,000-point club. She has the potential to be the leading scorer in school history. She's an amazing player to watch on the court. I look forward to seeing her grow into a complete college player."
Villanueva played her prep ball in Arizona where she was an All-4A Southwest Region honorable mention as a senior at Youngker High. Forward-center Samia Dinniene was an All-Mission Valley League selection coming from Marshall Fundamental High. Guard-forward Naomi Turner, who originally enrolled at Concordia Univeristy Irvine, joins the PCC family instead after playing on a strong Arcadia High team. Another Arcadia HS product is reserve point guard Jennifer Chu. Arcadia reached the CIF State Playoffs.
Rounding out the starting lineup is 6-2 center Tatiana Ayala, from Pasadena High. Peron is carrying a smaller roster this season, a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic and a lost season in 2020-2021. The rest of the Lancers bench consists of forwards Emily Trinh (Gabrielino High) and Chaundra Nestor (NorCal's Sierra High/Manteca).
PASADENA CLASSIC NOV. 11-12 AT HUTTO-PATTERSON GYMNASIUM
The Lancers return to the Hutto-Patterson Gymnasium home floor for the first time since 2020 when they host the 4-team, Pasadena Classic Tournament.
Here is the tourney schedule:
Thursday, Nov. 11
2 p.m., San Diego City v. Saddleback
4 p.m., LANCERS v. Imperial Valley
Friday, Nov. 12
2 p.m. Imperial Valley v. Saddleback
4 p.m. LANCERS v. San Diego City