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OCC ups win streak to eleven

December 17, 2005|By By Barry Faulkner

Despite missing two starters, Pirates find way to hold off Chaffey, 47-41, to advance to semifinals of Coast Christmas Classic tonight against El Camino.COSTA MESA -- Depleted, dinged up and yet still determined, the Orange Coast College women's basketball team extended its winning streak to 11 Friday night.

The Pirates (12-1), playing without two starters due to injuries, handled visiting Chaffey, 47-41, in the quarterfinals of the Coast Christmas Classic.

The win moved Coach Mike Thornton's Bucs into a semifinal meeting with El Camino tonight at 7:30.

The hosts appeared ready to run the Panthers into the consolation bracket, seizing leads of 14-4 and 19-6.

Orange Coast made 13 of 25 field-goal attempts in the opening half (52%) to settle for a 32-20 advantage at the break.

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But OCC went cold in the final 20 minutes, allowing Chaffey (1-10) to pare into the deficit. The Panthers pulled within 43-38 with 3:23 remaining, but the Pirates outscored the visitors from there on to survive and advance.

"Our kids are really gritty," Thornton said, "So they just keep finding a way to win. The only reason we're 12-1 is because we have tough kids."

Sophomore guard Crystal McCormick displayed said toughness by barreling through traffic for two crucial baskets in the late going.

And 6-foot-3 freshman center Madison Parks grimaced through consistent knee pain to produce a game-high 18 rebounds, while also scoring 14 points. Parks followed her shot with 35 seconds left to create a 47-40 lead and all but seal the win.

"I still think she's playing at only about 75%," Thornton said of Parks, the sister of nine-year NBA veteran Cherokee Parks. "She has a torn meniscus and it has limited her movement. It also makes it tough for her to play three games in a row, like we'll need her to do in this tournament."

McCormick, whom Thornton said is as streaky a shooter as he has seen, made four of her first five shots, including 2 of 3 from three-point range, to trigger the Pirates' early success.

And though McCormick cooled along with her teammates after intermission -- she missed her first five tries from the field in the second half -- she came up big as the lead was slipping away.

"Crystal has hit some big buckets for us this year," Thornton said. "When she first came here, she was strictly a spot-up shooter. But she has done a good job of improving other areas of her game, including getting to the basket."

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