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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Early age stages helps pave the way for Panthers freshman today

City College Johanna Lauderdale (10) drives past Delta College Lauren Rabena (10) and passes to Kayla Farr (0) in the post in the 4th quarter against San Joaquin Delta College in the North Gym on Friday, February 22, 2019. San Joaquin Delta College beat City College 82 to 71. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

by Jason Reed| Sports Editor| [email protected]

At 7 years old, Johanna Lauderdale would attend her older sister Jessica Lauderdale’s Amateur Athletic Union basketball practices and games. While she was off to the side shooting shots and practicing the same drills as the players on the team, Russell Fong, who was coaching Jessica at the time, would notice Johanna.

“She started coming to our practices from the very beginning,” Fong said about Johanna. “She would watch our drills from the sideline, practicing each one with precision.” Fong said even at an early age, Johanna was determined, motivated and focused.

“Coaching Johanna has always been a pleasure,” Fong said. “Not many players are dedicated to developing their skills like her. She’s the player that comes to practice early and leaves late—a coach’s dream.

Fong added that in the 20-plus years he’s coached basketball for both boys and girls Johanna is the player to practice her shot the most. “Her hard work has paid off as she’s proven over time to be an excellent shooter.”

Soon after being a spectator at practice, Lauderdale was able to take what she had learned from the sidelines and was able to participate with her older sister’s team—even though the two were separated in age by four years.

“It’s so strange to see her go from this skinny little shrimp,” Jessica said about her sister as she chuckled at Johanna’s growth since she first started basketball. Jessica also played for the Panthers and was part former Panthers Coach Julia Allender’s first postseason run with City College.  

“She grew out of nowhere,” said Jessica “She used all the right things to tone her body up and to see her still be as good of a shooter as she was when she was younger—that’s the best thing ever.”

As the years went by, Johanna would also go on to play basketball in middle school, for club teams and at John F. Kennedy High School. There, she averaged nearly 8 points per game with the Cougars.

“High school was tough,” said Johanna. “I played varsity my freshman year, which I regret. I didn’t get much playing time when I was a freshman.”

The upper-classmen were so much better than Johanna was then,  and she believes she would’ve been better off starting on junior varsity to gain more experience. She said during her sophomore year she started to play more, and her coach took notice of her potential to be a starter going forward into junior and senior year.

Although she played better in her final two years of high school, Johanna recalled that  basketball just wasn’t fun for her anymore. She even contemplated not playing. “I just felt like just another body on the team,” said Johanna.

Johanna wasn’t going to play basketball for the Panthers, but she changed her mind when she met Panthers Head Coach Julia Allender.

“She really inspired me,” Johanna said. “I saw that coach Juls was passionate about coaching, and she just had an intensity to her that I really aspired to have as a person.”

In her first season with City College, Johnanna was the team leading scorer, averaging 14.4 points per game and was also the best 3-point shooter for the Panthers. She scored 20 or more points eight times last season and led the Panthers in every 3-point statistic.

Johanna finished second in the Big 8 Conference in 3-point percentage—shooting 38.6 percent. She made a team-high 142 threes in 30 games played—with nearly four 3-pointers made per game—while also making 3-point shots in 28 games.

Describing her favorite moment of her first season with City College, Johanna recalled the West Hills Tournament when she felt the chemistry of the team take off because of the challenging circumstances.
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“We were playing a lot of those great schools that were ranked, and people underestimated us because we weren’t ranked,” she said.

Despite losing to Merced College in the tournament finals, she still recalled it being a happy moment. “Seeing coach’s face and how proud she was of us made me feel really good.”

City College Johanna Lauderdale (11) shoots 3-pointer on the baseline in the 3rd quarter of the game against Diablo Valley College in the North gym on Friday, February 8, 2019. Diablo Valley College beat City College 88-82. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

The Panthers was 15-5 twenty games into the season. With 12 games remaining, the team stumbled down the stretch and went 6-6, giving them a 20-11 record to close the regular season. The team finished fourth in the conference but was still able to make the playoffs, and in the process, they even managed to secure a bye-week so that they were able to host a second-round matchup with Chabot College.

In her postseason debut, Johanna scored the second-most points for her team with 17 on five made 3-pointers. The Panthers then advanced to the third round and had a chance to upset Big 8 Conference Champions Diablo Valley College. The Vikings beat the Panthers twice in the regular season. Johanna went down early in the playoff game with an ankle injury, and despite trying to return, she realized that she couldn’t move well enough to be effective on the court.

“The moment was very stressful,” Johanna said. “My first thought was ‘I can’t believe this is happening,’ and I got to get up and keep playing.”

However, she was not able to return to the game, and the Panthers lost to the Vikings 54-50. Diablo Valley would eventually go on to win the state championship against Moorpark College.

“My team was fighting really hard for that win, and we came up short. I was disappointed in myself. I wanted to help my team and fight for the win,” Johanna said. She eventually came to peace with the positives of her first season. “I reminded myself on how we were doubted and we still went out and had one hell of a season.”

Johanna was able to stay consistent statistically, but the Panthers were faced with a challenge that didn’t exist until late in the season—they were losing close games to the top teams in the conference and were allowing those teams to score on them with ease.

“Towards the second half of the season, that’s where it gets tough,” said Johanna. “So mentally and physically, that’s where we had to refresh as a team.”  

One of the things that helped the most was when the entire team would tell their goals to each other, she recalled the goals focused on things the players wanted to do and contribute to be able to steer the ship back in the right direction.

Johanna said each player would share a goal with a teammate and compliment each other by giving positive feedback to build confidence going into the next game.

“Every game it was to give it 100 percent on both ends of the floor and be gritty,” she said. “I wanted to be patient with my shots and stick to the game plan.”

Despite the team’s losses, Johanna said she is not done with basketball. Next season, she hopes to step into a leadership role and help lead the team even further in the playoffs. “I had the time of my life,” she said. “I’ve never had a group of girls like this.”

She credited the West Hills tournament last December as the moment the team came together. “We were just winning, and after that tournament, we just clicked.”

Lauderdale said her freshman season gave her even high hopes for an even stronger sophomore year.

“It was a great way to start off my first year of college. It was very nice to just walk around and see my teammates on campus, and these friendships that I have formed in six months [are] something I will forever cherish.”

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