GLENDORA, CA — No. 12 statewide-ranked East Los Angeles College finished the robin Citrus College Invitational Tournament with a 76-62 win against Southwestern College and an 81-73 loss to No. 8 Citrus yesterday.
As a result, the Huskies, 7-2 overall, moved up to the No. 9 spot in the California Community College Men’s Basketball Coaches Association State Poll. Citrus won its sixth-straight game and moved up to No. 4.
Against Southwestern, the Huskies ran to a 45-29 lead at the half. “It was a hard, tough game, the third in the row for us,” said ELAC Assistant Coach Kenneth Hunter. “They came out and played hard and we hit them with a couple of runs and our freshman really stepped up to the plate. We gave different guys (opportunity) to step up.”
And that they did. Two freshmen led the Huskies in scoring with 21 points apiece, center Solomon Hunt (Upland High School) who had nine rebounds and a blocked shot and guard Nick Hart (West Covina HS) who had seven rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot. ELAC freshman guard Darius Henderson (Taft HS) came off the bench and pumped in eight points. Citrus’ Austin Clark scored 31 points, which included eight three pointers.
ELAC led by as much as 24 points in each half, but Southwestern inched back to an eight-point deficient, 65-57, off a dunk from Emilio Arellano with 7:37 remaining in the game. ELAC closed the game on an 11-5 run with five Huskies scoring.
Against Citrus in a fiercely contested game, ELAC outrebounded the host Owls 40-31 and shot with a better shooting percentage, 29-of-59 field goals (49.2%) to 41.1% for the Owls.
Citrus, however, connected on 18 baskets from beyond the arc while ELAC only connected on five 3-point baskets. Citrus also fared better at the free throw line and shot 17-of-21 while ELAC connected on 10 free throws.
Freshman Jacob Tryon (Great Oak HS) scored a season-high and game-high 25 points for the Huskies. He had six rebounds and a game-high two blocked shots. Hunt had a double double with 13 points scored and he matched his season-high of 12 rebounds.
“They (Citrus) shot the ball very well as a unit, played together, clicked their shots and executed well, said ELAC freshman guard Mark Boland (Birmingham HS). “They make a lot of 3’s, got a lot of steals, and the defense possessions went their way.”
“It was their night. When we made mistakes, they seemed to capitalize. We have to lock down, close out, get there quickly and get our hands up as fast as possible so we can disrupt shots and shooters,” said Boland. “The loss was a wakeup call. We’re not quite in season yet. We still have a lot of things to figure out as a team.”
ELAC has one of the toughest schedule’s in the state, which is why they have moved up in the rankings with each loss.
“It seems we play a top-10 team every night—good learning tools, good teaching tools…,” said Hunter. “It’ll work for us in the end. By the time we get to the playoffs, our guys will be well prepared and they would have seen most of the top teams.”
The Huskies continue play in four days in the Riverside City College Holiday Classic. ELAC opens play with a game versus Mt. San Jacinto College (5-6) on Thursday, Dec. 7 at 1 p.m.
“Mt. San Jacinto is always good and they have a good coach,” said Hunter. “We just have to run our stuff in what will be a tough tournament.”
Follow ELAC Athletics at http://athletics.elac.edu/landing/index and ELAC Huskies Athletics on Facebook.
story submitted by Tadzio Garcia