OCC WOMEN'S  BASKETBALL -- A WINNING TRADITION

During the past two decades, the OCC women's basketball program has established a tradition of excellence and winning that is among the very best in the state. Coast has qualified for the state playoffs in 20 of the past 24 years. Only two other schools in Southern California -- Cerritos and Ventura -- have accomplished that feat. The Pirates have posted the best overall record of all the Orange Empire Conference schools during that same time span.

Not content to just make the playoffs, Coast has advanced to the state's Elite Eight six times, the Final Four three times and won the California state championship in 2003.

Great players make great teams and OCC has had more than its share of those over the years. That group includes 17 players who have gone on to compete at the D-I level. Two of those players Lee Ann Kazmer (1994--UNLV) and Jamie Shine (1996--St. Mary's) have been inducted into the CCCWBCA state hall of fame. A third, Courtney Ford, was a recent two-time, first-team, all-state selection and the OEC Player of the Year in 2007 and 2008 while setting a ton of school records. Ford went on to star at Mercer University in Macon, GA where she was a two-time, all-conference selection and the conference Player of the Year in 2010.

As much success as the Pirates have garnered on the floor, they have also enjoyed just as much success in the academic area. OCC's team overall grade point average has been over 3.0 during the past 24 years. Every player with one exception that has spent two years in the OCC program, has qualified to attend a four-year university. Over 70 players have gone on to continue their basketball careers at the next level.

Listed below are some highlights from many of the outstanding seasons in the past 24 years.

1989-90: In Coach Mike Thornton's first season, the Pirates improved from an 8-18 record in the previous season to what was then a school-record 26 wins with just six losses. All-state point guard Michelle Hennessey led the Pirates to a second place finish in the OEC. Three of their six losses were to eventual state champion Golden West. Erica Manning (who would be an all-state selection the following season) and Cindy Kollar were also all-conference selections. The first season under Thornton was just the beginning of the success that the program would have over the next 19 years.
1992-93: This year saw the Pirates put what long-time fans of the program say was their most talented team on the floor. They advanced to the state's Elite Eight for the first time, where they were defeated in overtime by Hancock in a very controversial ending. A missed backcourt violation by Hancock in the closing seconds allowed them to hit a buzzer-beating 3-point shot which sent the game into overtime and a subsequent OCC loss. Seven players off the team eventually went on to play at four-year schools including three at the D-I level. Ricarda Kuypers (UCLA), Lee Ann Kazmer (UNLV), and Colleen Hatch (Northern Colorado) were each all-state players and went on to play at D-I universities.
1993-94: With only one starter returning from the previous season, the Pirates were not expected to make a return visit to the state tournament but that is exactly what they did! The Pirates finished third in the OEC but the conference was by far the strongest in the state that year. Led by sophomore all-state forward Lee Ann Kazmer and two outstanding freshmen guards America Robledo and Flo Luppani, Coast upset conference-rival Riverside in the regional finals to advance to the Elite Eight at Solano College in Northern California. It was in the quarterfinals that OCC pulled off what is still regarded as the biggest upset in state tournament history. The Pirates opponent on that night was the state's number ranked team, College of San Mateo, which came into the game as the No. 1 seed and an overall record of 33-1. On top of that, San Mateo was led by future hall of fame coach Tom Martinez. Martinez was not only the women's basketball coach, he was also the head softball and head football coach at the school. He would later gain fame as the personal coach of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. OCC came into the game with an overall record of 21-12 and was the No. 6 seed in the Southern California regional. OCC jumped out to a 17-point lead near the end of the first half and were never really challenged. The final score was 68-57 and the Pirates and put their mark on JC basketball history. Due to the late start of the game (9:30 p.m.) and the lack of technology at the time, very few knew of the major upset until the next day. The only people that were not surprised were the Pirate players and coaches who went into the game very confident that they could get a win. A very tired OCC team lost in the semifinals the next night to eventual state-champion L.A. Harbor, but their place in history had been secured and the future of the program was even brighter.
1997-98: After three very good seasons in which Coast did not make the state finals, the Pirates made it back to the Elite Eight in 1998. Led by OEC Player of the Year and first-team, all-state selection Jennifer Ludwicki, OCC battled through some serious injuries and illnesses to earn the No. 4 seed in the regional playoffs. The Pirates won the OEC title with a buzzer-beating, one-point win over Fullerton on the final night of the season. To qualify for the state tournament, Coast faced a very strong College of the Canyons team in the regional finals. The game was played in front of a huge and rowdy crowd inside the Peterson Gymnasium. The Pirates pulled out a hard-earned 74-66 win in what a lot of people felt was one of the best wins of the 20-year Thornton era. The game ended with Canyons longtime coach Greg Herrick suffering a seizure and collapsing on the gym floor. Herrick spent the night at Hoag hospital and was released the next day, but it was a dramatic ending to say the least. Coast would lose to De Anza College in overtime in the state quarterfinals in another tremendous game that again ended controversially. Point guard Adria Sortino was obviously fouled on a 3-point attempt as the clock ran out but all three officials swallowed their whistles. Ludwicki went on to star at New Orleans University and center Natalie Weeks the next season earned a scholarship to the University of Idaho.
1999-2000: OCC put what was perhaps its second-most talented team on the floor this season. Coast ended up tying the school record for wins with 27. The season ended with an 84-80 loss to Cerritos in the regional finals in what both coaches felt was one of the best games that they had ever been involved in. Regional seeding proved to be a crucial factor. Cerritos, despite losing to Coast twice during the regular season, was awarded the region's No. 4 seed while OCC was seeded fifth. This resulted in Cerritos earning the home floor advantage in the regional finals. Coast's earlier victories had been played at OCC. It was the first time that the Pirates had advanced to the regional finals and met defeat. Point guard Shawna Steward and forward Sarah Middlebrooke enjoyed outstanding seasons and were selected second-team, all-state. Erin Tomlinson an outstanding player and all-conference selection on this team sadly passed away in the spring of 2010. Erin completed her playing career at UC Irvine. This was the best OCC team not to make the state finals.
2001-02: OCC had probably its best freshmen class ever and this season provided a hint at what the future held for the Pirates. Led by sophomore all-state selection Kyra Melville and a talented group of freshmen, Coast went undefeated in the second round of conference play to finish in second place and earn the No. 5 seed in the regional playoffs. Coast advanced to the regional finals but, as in 2000, had to go on the road. This time was it was to L.A. Valley who was the fourth seed and a huge favorite. In a game that saw the lead change hands several times, the Pirates took a one-point lead with just a few seconds remaining on all-conference point guard Nancy Hatsushi's 3-point field goal from the baseline. Valley had no timeouts left and rushed the ball up the floor for a final opportunity to win the game. A hurried 15-foot baseline attempt was off the mark but the rebound was deflected out of bounds off of a Coast player, giving Valley another opportunity with three seconds left. Valley had the ball on the baseline to the left of the basket. After a timeout was called by OCC to set its defense, Valley was able to inbound the ball to one of its best scorers, who banked in a 10-foot shot at the buzzer for the win. The loss left a bitter taste in the mouths of the OCC freshmen and basically provided the inspiration for what would turn out to be a history-making season the next year.
2002-03: Making it to the state finals and erasing the bitter memory of last season's regional final loss were the 2003's team goals from Day One. They were able to accomplish those goals, but the journey was a rocky one and far from easy. Favored by most to win the OEC conference title, Coast finished second to a very talented Saddleback College team. Despite finishing the conference season on a two-game losing streak, Coast ended the year with an overall record of 25-6 and earned the No. 4 regional seed on the bases of playing in what was regarded as the state's strongest conference. That seeding would prove critical because it meant that Coast would be able to play all of its regional games at home, providing they kept winning! After a first-round bye, the Pirates hosted a very talented Cerritos team in the second round. The Falcons, who are Coast's most intense nonconference rival, defeated OCC badly in the regular season, but the Pirates were without their team leader Nancy Hatsushi in that game. Hatsushi missed the first game because of illness. With Nancy in the lineup and coming off of a 10-day rest, Coast defeated Cerritos, 55-47, in what was basically a defensive struggle. The Pirates’ only freshman starter, forward Alisa Carrillo, had a 19-point, five-rebound effort to lead OCC to the win. In the regional finals, Coast hosted a Compton team that had a 31-2 overall record and came to Costa Mesa steaming because it felt slighted to be seeded fifth behind the Pirates. Carrillo knocked down two late free throws and center Lauren Murray came up with a crucial rebound after a last-second Compton shot attempt to secure the win. The emotional victory enabled Coast to accomplish one of their preseason goals -- to get to the Elite Eight state finals. When they got to San Diego and USD's Jenny Craig Pavilion, they established a new goal -- win the state title! In their quarterfinal game against Merced, the Pirates established an early lead that they never released coming out with a 63-53 win. That set up a semifinal match against two-time defending state champion Ventura. Ventura was the No. 1 ranked team in the state and an overwhelming favorite to win its third straight state title. To make matters worse, the Ventura had the revenge factor in its favor. OCC had beaten Ventura at Ventura College in a Thanksgiving Holiday tournament game. Although Coast led for virtually the entire game, the northern Pirates had played the second half of that tourney game without their star Courtney Young. Young who would later be named the state Player of the Year for the second consecutive year, was healthy and ready for revenge in the playoffs! On top of that, OCC's earlier victory over Ventura had ended VC’s five-year home winning streak that had reached 52 games. Just like nine years earlier against San Mateo, virtually nobody thought Coast had a prayer of winning -- except the OCC coaches and players who had gained a lot of confidence from their earlier victory. In what was at the time -- until the next day -- the biggest and most important win in school history, OCC defeated Ventura again, 59-57, to advance to the state title game for the first time ever! Sophomore guards Lindsay Galasso and Candice Quiroz led the team to victory as they combined for a great defensive effort to hold Young to 18 points which was well below her average. Galasso deflected a pass out of a Ventura player's hand on their last possession to secure the win. In the title game against Northern California power Contra Costa, the hot shooting of guard Nancy Hatsuhi (five 3-pointers) led Coast to a 69-61 win and the state title. Hatsushi was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player. Carrillo joined her on the All-Tournament team. The six sophomores -- Hatsushi, Murray, Galasso, Quiroz, Liz Mendoza and Leigh Marshall -- will all live in the hearts of Pirate fans forever. They won the state title with no D-I players on the team. They epitomized what a "TEAM" truly was. They won their last four games against teams that had all won at least 30 games and were more physically talented. No team had ever done that before. No team has ever done that since.
2005-06: In one of the most remarkable seasons in OCC women's basketball history, the Pirates advanced once again to the state's Final Four before losing to eventual state champion Mt. San Antonio in the state semis. Coast was besieged all season long with injuries, illnesses, and discipline issues that have been rare to the Pirate program. Through it all, Coast just kept winning. They eventually won 30 games which is the second highest in OCC history. They went undefeated in the first round of OEC play including a state record five-overtime victory over Fullerton. In the Fullerton victory, guard Crystal McCormick tied the school record for points scored in a single game with 46. She also set a single-game record for 3-point field goals with 10. OCC finished second in the OEC and was seeded No. 4 in the regionals. They defeated Long Beach City and Imperial Valley at home to advance to the state finals for the fifth time. In the quarterfinals, the Pirates met a very talented Merced team as they had in 2003. History repeated itself and the Pirates won again. Sophomores Teeya Fernandez, Jillian Ricks, Madison Parks, Valerie Katayama, Crystal McCormick, and Nancy Castro led OCC to a remarkable and outstanding season. Ricks was an all-state selection who battled through injuries and a lifetime illness to have great year. She went on to become a starter on UC San Diego's NCAA Final Four team in 2007. Katayama had a great career at the University of Redlands and is now an assistant coach at OCC. Fernandez is in her eighth season as an assistant at OCC after several knee surgeries cut her career short. Castro finished her playing career at Bethany College in Kansas where she graduated from in 2010. McCormick graduated from BYU Hawaii is married and living back in south Orange County. Parks had a brief fling with Long Beach State before ending her career.
2006-07: With only one returner from the state tournament team of the preceding year Coast put together the best regular season in school history going 28-3. An outstanding freshmen class led by OEC Player of the Year Courtney Ford and all-conference selection Rachael Maulit along with Irvine Valley College transfer Robin Smith provided the foundation for this OEC championship team that went 14-0 for the first time in school history. The season came to a sudden end quickly however as OCC was upset by San Bernadino Valley in the second round of the regionals. Smith and Maulit were ill during the week prior to the game but the Pirates played poorly, missing several uncontested lay-ups in the one-point loss. Smith was an all-conference selection along with Ford and Maulit. Ford was selected first team, all-state.
2007-08: Using the motto "Ready for the Challenge", the OCC women managed to produce one of the finest seasons in school history. The Pirates finished with an overall record of 29-4 establishing for the second consecutive year the most wins during the regular season. Also for the second consecutive season, the Pirates were eliminated in the second round of the regional playoffs after earning the No. 1 seed for the first time in school history. Antelope Valley knocked off Coast at the Peterson Gym, but this time there were some unusual circumstances. All-state point guard Rachael Maulit was unable to play because of a season-ending illness. Several other players were suffering from various ailments that prevented them from performing up to par. The quick playoff exit however could not take away from all of the team's accomplishments for the last two years. The Pirates were ranked No. 1 in the state for three weeks early in the season. They gave eventual state champion Mt. San Antonio its only loss of the season, ending their long home court winning streak. OCC captured its second consecutive OEC championship with a 13-1 conference record. It was the first time in conference history that Coast had won back-to-back conference titles. Coast won three tournament titles throughout the season. Courtney Ford was selected as the OEC Player of the Year for the second time. Ford was the MVP of three tournaments and also earned first-team, all-state honors for a second consecutive year. Maulit was a first-team, all-conference selection for the second time and was a second-team, all-state selection. Sophomores Brittany Taylor and Katie Kissee joined Maulit and Ford on the all-conference's first team. The season brought to an end the careers of seven outstanding sophomores who had a huge impact on the OCC program. Courtney Ford, Rachael Maulit, Katie Kissee, Brittany Taylor, Lee Wang, Erin Barney, and Sarah Schmidt will be remembered for a long, long time for all the positive things that they accomplished in their OCC careers.
2008-09: All conference selections Simone Ibbotson and Casey Gomez led the Pirates to a 21-11 overall record and their 18th consecutive playoff appearance. Ibbotson, who was a two-year starter and Gomez both played critical roles on the 29-4 2008 championship team. Casey and Simone continued their academic and basketball careers at Chapman University where they starred for two seasons.
2010-11: OCC made its 20th state playoff appearance in the last 22 years while finishing with an overall season record of 24-9. The Pirates made their sixth appearance in the state's Elite Eight where they were defeated by OEC-rival Cypress by three points in the regional championship game held before a packed house at Peterson Gymnasium. The Pirates had defeated the Chargers by one point in both of their OEC games. Amanda Deal, Alyssa Hanson, and Sam Hansen were first-team, All-OEC selections. Helena Robel was a second-team choice. Sam Hansen was a second team all-state selection. All four of those players continued their playing careers at Cal State University Los Angeles. The 2010-11 season was a remarkable one for the Pirates as they won six-of-seven games that were decided by one point and all five games that went into overtime. While not the most talented OCC team, they were without question one of the most competitive and over-achieving teams in school history as they consistently would overcome huge deficits to pull out last second victories. Several of those comebacks could be put into the “miracle” category. It was definitely a season to remember! 
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY

            A total of eight former players have returned at one time or another to become assistant coaches in the Pirate program. They are very responsible in helping to keep the winning tradition alive. 

OCC ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME

            Nancy Hatsushi Rogers was inducted into the Orange Coast College Athletic Hall of Fame. The ceremonies were held on Nov. 5, 2011 in the foyer of Peterson Gymnasium. Hatsushi-Rogers is the first women's basketball player to be inducted into the hall of fame. Nancy was selected the MVP of the 2003 California State Tournament after she led the Pirates to their first state championship. OCC defeated four teams that had won 30-or-more games on the way to the title -- an accomplishment that had never been done before or since that time. She was a two-time, first-team, All-Orange Empire Conference selection and a two-time, All-Southern California selection. She made five 3-point field goals in the state championship victory over Contra Costa and led her team to a victory over the state's top team, Ventura College, in the semifinals. Ventura was seeking a third consecutive state championship. Nancy firmly established herself as one of the Pirates all-time greats with her performance in the state finals! 

"34"

            The number 34 is extremely significant in OCC women's basketball history. Three consecutive players who wore that number were all-state selections and rank among the school's all-time greats. Colleen hatch (1993), Lee Ann Kazmer (1994) and Jamie Shine (2006) all played the same position and were all record-setting players. All went on to play at D-I schools. In honor of them, the #34 has been unofficially retired and will never be worn again. 

FORMER OCC PLAYERS WHO WENT ON TO PLAY AT THE DIVISION I LEVEL

Michelle Hennessey -- Cal State Fullerton, 1990

Ricarda Kuypers – UCLA, 1993

Colleen Hatch -- Northern Colorado, 1993

Lee Ann Kazmer – UNLV, 1994

Jamie Shine -- St. Mary's, 1996

Jennifer Ludwicki -- University of New Orleans, 1998

Natalie Weeks – Idaho, 1999

Erin Tomlinson -- UC Irvine, 2000

Leah Wilde -- Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 2000

Alisa Carrillo -- Southern Illinois, 2004

Rhondi Naff -- Cal State Bakersfield, 2005

Madison Parks -- Long Beach State, 2006

Courtney Ford -- Mercer University, 2008

Anna Simmons -- Cal State Northridge, 2009