ELAC is CCCAA State Runners-Up
NORWALK—After opening its doors 69 years ago, East Los Angeles College is sending its men’s basketball team to the state finals for the first time in school history.
The Huskies defeated Merritt College of Oakland, 94-83, in the California Community College Athletic Association semifinals, 94-83, at The Avery Gymnasium at Cerritos College.
Three-year ELAC Head Coach John Mosley has taken the men’s basketball to new heights. Three playoff appearances in three years (2012-14 season through the 2014-2015 campaign), the first men’s basketball conference championship (2013-14) in about fout decades, a Final Four state championship round appearance and a state title game with a possible state championship title.
And the latest hurdle in the semifinals looked easy near the end of the game.
The Huskies focused on every play according to sophomore guard Te’shon Burton. “We took it one play at a time, stayed on our game plan and believed we would win. We are ready for Sunday,” said Burton.
After a 44-all deadlock at halftime, ELAC, 22-10 overall, led the entire second half after an opening 3-point shot from sophomore guard Marcus Romain, seven seconds into the first half.
Run and gun.
That’s when the Huskies play their best ball. They are 15-0 when scoring their average, 82 points-per-game.
Although Merritt put together some rallies, ELAC had answers to keep its second half lead to the end of he game.
The Thunderbirds missed two fast-break dunks in the first six minutes of the second half, with ELAC leading 56-55 during the later.
Merritt’s last rally was with 1:58 remaining off a freshman guard Jovantae Carlton three-point play that brought the Thunderbirds (25-7) within two, 83-81.
ELAC answered with freshman forward Richard Bivens scoring the next five points. The Huskies never looked back.
All five of ELAC’s starters scored in double figures. “We played our best basketball when it counted most, tonight” said Mosley.
ELAC had 18 assists to Merritt’s 10. The unselfish ball playing meant there were more ELAC chances to score, with more Huskies getting involved on the offensive boards.
The Huskies’ leading scorers, sophomore guard Je-Ron Primus and Romain scored 17 and 12 points respectively. Primus had four assists and two steals.
Freshman forward Marquis Salmon added 12 points, seven rebounds and four steals while sophomore guard Michael Cardenas pumped in 11 points and had five assists.
Sophomore guard Primitivo Gomez led all scorers with 23 points and had 12 rebounds for a double-double. He also had three steals and two assists. He was perfect from the free-throw line shooting 9-for-9.
There were seven blocked shots in the game, two from ELAC’s Salmon and Gomez and five from Merritt with two coming from Carlton. All seven blocked shots received loud reactions from the crowd.
Thunderbird sophomore forward Travon King had a double-double scoring 19 points and bringing down 11 rebounds. Teammate freshman guard DJ Kennedy came off the bench and scored a team-high 20 points with sophomore guard Denzel Bellot adding 14 points.
ELAC will play Saddleback College (33-2), a 75-68 overtime winner against Canada College (24-7) in the other semifinal, in the championship game Sunday at 1 p.m.
Story by Tadzio Garcia