Pirates open Allan Hancock Tournament on Thursday

Pirates open Allan Hancock Tournament on Thursday

SANTA MARIA -- In the basketball world, December is basketball tournament time and for the Orange Coast College women's basketball team, it means a drive to Allan Hancock College for the AHC Tournament, which kicks off on Thursday.

The Pirates (0-4) will return to action after a lengthy break to take on the host Bulldogs (4-2) on Thursday, beginning at 3 p.m.

Thursday's game will be the first for OCC since competing in the Palomar College Tournament back on Nov. 16-17, with the Pirates coming up just short against Santa Monica in the consolation semifinals, 59-52.

Through the first four games of the season, Coast has been led offensively and defensively by the strong play of freshman Jalisa Simons, who leads the Pirates by averaging 16.8 points per game to go along with a team-best 10.8 rebounds per game. With the exception of a rough night against Palomar, Simons has averaged 20 points per game and has notched eight or more rebounds in every game she's played this year.

A strong second option for the Pirates is center Monet Oncu, who scored 26 points in her first two games of the season before missing the final two games of the Palomar Tournament with an injury. She is averaging 13 points and six rebounds per game.

Adding to the depth of the Pirates includes freshman guard Alexus Johnson (8.8 points/game) and sophomore guard Raelynn Denson (6.5 points, 3.5 assists/game). 

A win by the Pirates on Thursday will move them to the championship semifinals on Friday at 5 p.m., while a loss will drop OCC into the consolation semifinals at 1 p.m. on Friday.

The Pirates will return to the friendly confines of the Peterson Gym on Monday, Dec. 17 when they host the Erin Tomlinson Coast Christmas Classic, where they will host Long Beach City College at 7 p.m.