MONTEREY PARK, CA — The East Los Angeles College men’s basketball team won its second-straight South Coast Conference North Division title, third in four years, with an 89-75 win against Pasadena City College in the regular-season finale.
“It’s great (the title) and exciting for the (team),” said ELAC Head Coach John Mosley. “The great commitment that all these guys coming into the program make is the reason why we are in the position that we’re in.”
The No. 18 state-ranked Huskies (21-6, 8-2) tied with No. 14 Chaffey College (22-8, 8-2) for the SCC North championship. Chaffey won tonight, 57-54, at Mt. San Antonio College (17-10, 7-3) to earn a share of the title. Mt. SAC took third place. All three teams move on to the playoffs.
The Huskies were 2-2 in SCC North play on Jan. 27 and appeared to be fighting just to make the playoffs. Chaffey and Mt. SAC were each undefeated in conference and heading to a Feb. 1 showdown.
ELAC controlled its destiny. Since Feb. 1, the Huskies won six-straight games by an average score of 87-63, and stormed back for a title and a playoff game. ELAC is playing its best ball of the season when it matters most.
Throw out records and season stats when longtime rivals ELAC and Pasadena meet as evident from the close first half, which had nine lead changes and three ties.
Pasadena jumped out to an 8-3 lead followed by two ELAC buckets, the first from starting sophomore guard Jesus Zesati (St. John Bosco HS), whose inside cut led to a basket off the glass. Sophomore guard Zeno Lake (Compton HS) powered in for the second 2-pointer.
A bomb from beyond the arc from sophomore guard Sequan Walker (LB Cabrillo HS) gave ELAC its largest first-half lead, 16-12, with several minutes left. Pasadena then outscored the Huskies by six points to lead 31-28 heading into the locker room.
At the break, Pasadena sophomore guard Todd Barnes (Pasadena HS) led all scorers with nine points. Walker and freshman guard Robert Fuller (St. Bernard HS) each scored seven points for the Huskies.
The second half began with two lead changes and a knotted score at 36-all. Pasadena followed with a 10-0 run and led 46-36 after freshman guard Will Johnson scored in transition for the Lancers.
ELAC answered Pasadena’s second-half zone defense with long-range knockdowns, improved passing, and a scoring run that included four in a row from Walker. Walker’s second of three, 3-point swishes, gave the Huskies a 50-48 lead with 11:39 left and brought the house down.
Freshman forward Roderick Williams (Price HS) followed the Sequan Show with a lay-up (assist Chandler Redix) that also lit up the crowd. This closed a 19-2 ELAC run and the Huskies led 55-48 with 10:28 left in the game. Thereafter, the Huskies built leads of 17 points four times.
“We sputtered to start off, but I think our will to win took over,” said Mosley. “They (Pasadena) never really quit. Fortunately, our shots went in and our conditioning helped.”
Four Huskies scored in double digits. Walker scored a team-high 20 points, Lake scored 18, Williams scored 16 and sophomore guard Chandler Redix (Cathedral HS) scored 14.
Barnes scored a game-high 30 points for Pasadena that included 2 dunks and 6-of-7 shots from the free throw line.
Fuller had seven of ELAC’s 24 assists. The Huskies connected on 10 3-point shots, the most in eight previous games.
The CCCAA men’s playoffs begin Wednesday with Round 1 wild-card games. ELAC and the other two SCC North teams’ rankings are high enough to give them each first round byes, and begin play in Round 2 on Friday or Saturday, Feb. 24/25, sight and time to be determined. Playoff brackets and seeding’s will be announced on Monday, Feb. 21.
story submitted by Tadzio Garcia