IRVINE, CA — The 10th seed East Los Angeles College women’s basketball team lost to No. 6 seed Irvine Valley College 70-55 in a CCCAA Southern California Regional Bracket second round game.
The Lady Huskies’ three straight trips to the State Championships Bracket comes to an end, which included a State Runner Up nod and two Final Four appearances. The uncharacteristic early playoff exit ends the season for the Lady Huskies, who finished 18-11 overall. Irvine Valley moves on to Round 3 of the Regional Bracket and improves to 25-4.
The Lady Huskies proved all season they could play with anyone. They won six games against Top 20 state-ranked teams and took two games with two different No. 1 teams into overtime and lost to another.
Tonight’s loss in Irvine was missing two components. A consistent ELAC defense and an injured Husky sophomore guard Destinee Anaya (Irving, TX / MacArthur HS). Anaya averaged a 32.8 percent shooting average in shots beyond the arc. The Lady Huskies did not score any points from three-point land.
“The Lady Huskies had poor defense tonight, which couldn’t keep the ball out the middle lane, had a lackadaisical rebounding effort, which all cost us the game,” said ELAC head coach Bruce Turner. “We tried to go full court press but all five Lady Huskies weren’t together.”
The first quarter was an even battle. Husky freshman forward Mercedes Ortiz (Garfield High School) grabbed an offensive rebound with 1:43 left in the quarter and scored five seconds later from a layup. Santiago Canyon led 11-10 at that point, but closed the first quarter with a 4-1 run.
Five Huskies scored in the frame, which included three other freshmen, forwards Marlee Berry (Polson, MT / Polson HS), Jaelynn Curley (Ganado, AZ / Ganado HS) and guard Jennifer Pool (Legacy HS). Irvine sophomore forward Kasey Smit (Tesoro HS) scored six points with layups off the right glass.
The second quarter included somewhat of a defensive collapse and ELAC was outrebounded 14-7. The Huskies were ready for layups to the right glass, but Irvine responded with fake right-side layups with left dishes three times for six points. Irvine Valley increased its lead to 10 points at the half and 34-24.
More of the same held up for the third quarter and ELAC was outscored 26-16. ELAC freshman forward Dominique Godbolt (Fairfax HS) carried the Huskies on offense and scored 10 points in the quarter.
Irvine led 67-48 with 6:26 remaining in the game when the ELAC cranked its defense and had a 7-0 run, but it was too little too late. Husky sophomore forward Stevi Hall (Harrisburg, PA / Harrisburg HS) was fouled hard and knocked to the ground in the fourth quarter. The crowd, who apparently did not agree with the call, heckled Hall when she took her two free throw attempts.
Godbolt led the way for the Huskies with 19 points scored. She finished with nine rebounds, five off of the offensive boards and shot 75 percent from the charity stripe. ELAC sophomore forward Monica Garcia (Garfield HS) ended her Husky career with 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot. “Monica Garcia played with guts for two years, has been a good rock and shot the ball well tonight,” said Turner.
Curley scored seven points, had seven rebounds, dished four assists and shot 75% from the line. Pool scored six points, had three assists and a team-high three steals. Hall scored four points and worked hard for eight rebounds.
Sophomore guard Kimberly Peraza (Downey HS) who fought hard, ended her ELAC career with gutsy plays. She was put in with 22 seconds left, stole the ball three seconds later. With four seconds left, Peraza ended her season with a hard fall to the ground when she was fighting for an offensive rebound. Freshman guard Elvira Leal (Lincoln HS) played a well fought nine minutes.
Smit, the Orange Empire Conference MVP, scored 24 points and made it a double double with 16 rebounds. She scored 12 points from layups off the right-side glass. Freshman guard Lexi Vail scored 16 points for Irvine and teammate sophomore guard Elizabeth Garcia had a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
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story submitted by Tadzio Garcia