COSTA MESA -- Before a standing-room-only crowd inside the Peterson Gym, longtime head coach Mike Thornton felt the love of the crowd following Friday night's 75-69 loss to visiting Santa Ana as the 29-year head skipper of the Orange Coast College women's basketball team coached his final home game of his career.
With dozens and dozens of former players and longtime supporters of OCC women's basketball in the stands -- as well as several players and coaches from the other sports on campus -- Coast pushed the Dons all the way to the final minute of play, but came up just short.
But in the end, the night was for Thornton, who has amassed 583 win throughout his brilliant career.
"Tonight was about 'family' for me and I have three versions of that here in the gym with me tonight," Thornton said to the crowd following the game. "I want to thank my actual family for being here and for the years of love and support they've given me. I want to thank the 'OCC family' of fellow coaches and administrators that make this school so special to me. And last but not least, to all of my 'basketball family' -- my former players, former coaches and current players and coaches -- I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
OCC's three sophomores playing their final home game of their careers -- Sydney Driggs, Jenna Miramontes and Aubriona Mathis -- led the way for the Pirates, much like they've done all season long. Driggs led the way with 19 points and five rebounds, Mathis added 18 points and 15 rebounds and Miramontez, along with freshman Isabella Hollibaugh, contributed 10 points.
For the Dons, coached by former OCC standout Flo Luppani, Cheryl Caldera had a team-best 20 points, while Gianna Luna and Caily Vitug added 13 points each.
The Pirates will wrap up their season with a pair of road games next week, playing at Irvine Valley on Tuesday and at Copper Mountain on Thursday. Both games will take place at 5 p.m.