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Third Final Is The Charm: PCC Women's Basketball Captures State Title

Third Final Is The Charm: PCC Women's Basketball Captures State Title image

For the first time in Pasadena City College history, a women's sport has won a state team championship. The PCC women's basketball team performed that feat Sunday when it downed San Joaquin Delta, 74-64, in the CCCAA Championship game at Fresno's Selland Arena.

The Lancers finished their season on top of the heap at 33-4 overall. It was the first state championship by any PCC sports team, men or women, in 25 years. The last to win a title was the 1984 men's track and field team.

Pasadena capped a run of appearances at the Elite Eight, having reached each of the last six state tournaments. It was the third time PCC made it to the finals since 2004, but this time hitting the win column. The Lancers have gone as far as the Final Four in five of those six tournaments.

PCC was led by tournament MVP and sophomore point guard Kinyada Johnson, who scored 26 points and dished out eight assists in the title game victory. Besides Johnson, sophomore forward Easter Faafiti and sophomore guard Melia Basavand were each chosen to the All-CCCAA Elite Eight Tournament team.

Johnson finished a remarkable two-year career at PCC by becoming the school's all-time scoring leader at 1,097 points and all-time assists leader with 443 assists. Faafiti just missed becoming the fourth player to reach 1,000 points in her career, stopped at 992. Basavand led the state this season in 3-pointers with 121 and her 214 treys over two seasons is a PCC career record.

Against Delta, Faafiti, a two-time, All-State regular season selection, added 17 points and 14 rebounds while sophomore forward Allegra Kohley reached a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Kohley was a big factor throughout the playoffs in setting screens that allowed Johnson to either get open for a shot attempt or get off a pass to another unguarded player for a high-percentage shot.

Basavand was limited to six points, but grabbed seven boards, and frosh guard Melissa Fudge came off the bench to score seven points and tally three assists. Kim Smith, who celebrated her 19th birthday by picking up a first place team medal, added five points after scoring a PCC playoff high 35 Friday in the semifinals win over Ventura.

PCC jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never let that advantage go despite a few runs by Delta. When Basavand sank a 30-foot shot with 4:08 left it gave PCC a 68-61 lead and was the momentum breaker that the Mustangs (31-7) could not recover from the rest of the way.

At the sound of the game's final buzzer, the players swarmed the floor and piled on each other at midcourt. PCC was able to enjoy the net-cutting ceremony following the announcement of the team and tournament awards.

Pasadena won the championship despite coming in as the No. 4 (lowest) seed from the South region. The Lancers finished the season on a 10-game winning streak that included wins over South top seed Mt. San Antonio, North top seed City College of San Francisco, South No. 2 seed and regular-season state No. 1 Ventura, and North No. 2 seed Delta.

"We beat a lot of Goliaths to reach our goal," said PCC Head Coach Joe Peron. "It was truly a team effort where all the players united to accomplish something remarkable. We had one of our smallest size teams in both height and numbers, but the players we had showed heart and were determined to not let any team get in their way."

Peron finally got to lift a state first-place trophy in the fourth final he has participated in as a coach and player. Peron played on the last PCC men's team to participate in the state championship game when the Lancers lost in three overtimes to Cerritos in the 1983 title matchup.

In another historical irony, Riverside captured the men's state title, the first for that college in 43 years when PCC alumnus Jerry Tarkanian coached the Tigers' 1966 team. The next season, Tarkanian became Pasadena coach as the men's Lancers would win the 1967 championship. Tarkanian's wife Lois was in attendance Sunday at Selland Arena.

Here is a listing of the 2008-2009 PCC women's roster and coaches: Johnson, Faafiti, Basavand, Smith, Kohley, Fudge, freshman center Cherisa Sellers, freshman forward Chrishawn Frierson, freshman forward Raven Faafiti, freshman guard Shaquoya Woods and coaches Peron plus his assistants Greg Smith, Beverly Powell, and Syreeta Stafford. Smith announced he is retiring from coaching after 20 combined seasons as both a head coach (14 years) and assistant (the past six).

[Photo: The state champion Pasadena City College women's basketball team pile on each other moments after defeating San Joaquin Delta, 74-64, in the CCAAA title game at Fresno's Selland Arena Sunday, image by Richard Quinton.]

Release Date: 03/15/09
Robert Lewis, Sports Information
Phone: 626-585-7018, Email: rmlewis@pasadena.edu