by Cerwin D. Haynes
(photos and video courtesy of Mario Villegas)
Another year, another South Coast Conference North crown.
Utilizing size, defense and their signature strong second half play, East Los Angeles College (26-1, 7-0) was able to put away another SCC-North opponent - this time the Mounties of Mt. San Antonio College (6-20, 1-6) - by the score of 97-69 and win the SCC-North title for a fifth straight year. Premiere freshman Kealen Allen (KJ) scored 23 points on 10 of 12 shooting and grabbed 16 rebounds, while sophomore center Malik Muhammed enjoyed a breakout game, scoring 21 points with nine rebounds.
This game started as many home contests have started this season for the Huskies: evenly battling their opponents or struggling as their opponents make waves. Mt. SAC actually led by five points 12 minutes into the first half - but that's when East started to find their legs. A pair of free throws each by Muhammed and fellow sophomore Levelle Zeigler brought ELAC within one, and reserve guard Mark Boland later nail a three-pointer to give ELAC a 32-30 lead. A Josh Jastrab jumper would tie the score, but Allen would immediately respond with a power layup plus the foul to again give the ELAC green a lead at 35-32 with 5:09 left in the half. From that point, the Mounties would only score four points for the rest of the half, as East LA would close on a 10-4 spurt for a nine-point haltime lead.
Huskies Forward Jordan Polynice would open the second half with five straight points (an assisted layup and a three-pointer) to give ELAC a 50-36 lead. A Mt. SAC free throw and a jumper pulled the visitors within 11 at the 18:10 mark, but that's as close as they would get: East LA would go on a dominant 18-3 run over the next six minutes to essentially put the game to bed.
- It was Sophomore Night on campus, as the team honored it's nine outgoing sophomores before the game. Starting guard Deshaun Highler was the last soph honored as he motioned for the rest of his team to join him. The honorees:
- Starting point guard Zeigler chipped in tonight with 16 points, four assists and three boards.
- Reserve guard Knighten saw the court late in the game and scored eight points in seven minutes of play.
- Huskies shot 51.3% from the field - the team averages 51.6% shooting for the season.
- For the visiting Mounties, starters Collin Reed and Josh Jastrab lead the team with 20 points apiece.
- Nutrishop sponsored tonight's game by giving out 200 white ELAC basketball t-shirts.
- ELAC closes out its regular season against the struggling Roadrunners of Rio Hondo. Tip-off scheduled for Friday 2/21 at 7pm (or 20 minutes after the conclusion of the women's game, whichever is later).