MISSION VIEJO, CA — The East Los Angeles College men’s basketball lost 68-58 to the No. 1 team in the state, Saddleback College, in a CCCAA Southern California Regional final.
The Huskies end their season as the winningest team in ELAC history at 26-4. Saddleback (30-1) moves on to the State Championships.
ELAC scored first from a sophomore guard Iziahiah Sweeny (Compton HS) layup assisted by freshman guard Chandler Redix (Cathedral HS) 42 seconds into the game.
Saddleback then scored 16 unanswered points and took a 16-2 lead with 13:43 remaining in the first half.
The Gauchos had double-digit leads the remainder of the half except for a brief moment with 9:38 left when ELAC freshman Jalen Gilmore (Washington Prep HS) connected on two shots at the charity stripe. Saddleback led 18-9.
Saddleback sophomore guard Maurice Jones, who came off the bench and scored 13 points, made a layup with 1:33 left in the half for a 34-18 Gaucho lead.
The Huskies closed the half with a 6-0 run culminating with a Sweeny layup at the buzzer to bring the Huskies within 10, down 34-24.
In the first minute of the second half, ELAC pulled within six from four-consecutive high-flying 2-point baskets from Sweeny. The Huskies pulled within six points, down 34-28.
Sweeny continued his hot shooting and hit two of his next three shots, the latter connection a 3-point jump shot assisted by sophomore forward Richard Bivens (Bakersfield Ridgeview HS).
It was a new ballgame. Saddleback led 36-33.
Sophomore guard Miles Ford (Alhambra HS) made a jump shot, assisted by Bivens, with 13:21 left in the game and the Huskies were down two points, 43-41.
A minute later ELAC was down 46-41. The Huskies scored three-straight points. Sweeny connected on the first of two free throws with 11:05 left; freshman guard Jalen Gilmore (Washington Prep HS) made a jump shot and ELAC was down 46-44 with 9:38 left in the game.
Saddleback then outscored ELAC 12-2. Down 58-46 with 5:36 remaining in the game, ELAC scored nine-consecutive points that culminated with a Bivens 3-point jump shot with 2:04 left in the game with ELAC down 58-55.
After each team made a jump shot, 44 seconds remained in the game. Saddleback then outscored ELAC 8-1 for the win, with six points from freshman point guard T.J. Shorts.
Sweeny and Bivens led the ELAC scoring with 21 and 13 points respectively. Each had a blocked shot, as did Redix and freshman forward Chima Wami (Santiago HS).
ELAC sophomore guard Jarrell Tate (Birmingham, AL Wenonah HS) scored seven points. Redix had a team-high four assists.
ELAC Head Coach John Mosley has coached four consecutive ELAC playoff teams including a Final Four, Elite Eight, Sweet Sixteen and Round 3 appearances.
story submitted by Tadzio Garcia