Oh so close, ELAC is state runner-up
LIVERMORE, CA — The East Los Angeles College women's basketball team took No. 1 Mt. San Antonio College to the wire and lost 57-55 in the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship title game.
The Huskies (24-10) played in its first-ever state title game. Mt. SAC (34-1) won its third state title in the last five years.
ELAC played some of its best basketball of the season to start the game and led 34-17 at the half.
Mt. SAC won the tipoff and the Huskies defensively forced a shot-clock violation on the Mounties. ELAC scored first from a 3-point shot by freshman forward Tiffani Martinez (Montebello HS) assisted by freshman guard Alissa Gomez (Roosevelt HS).
ELAC led 5-4 when sophomore forward Jessica Sanchez (Roosevelt HS) connected on five consecutive points for the Huskies.
Sanchez hit a 3-point jump shot, assisted by Gomez, followed by a long two-point jump shot from the left pocket and ELAC led 10-4 with 3:34 left in the first quarter.
ELAC led 18-9 when the quarter ended and the Huskies offense hit on all cylinders, 50% from two point shot attempts (6-of-12 with three assists), 66.7% on 3-point baskets (2-of-3 with two assists) and a perfect 4-of-4 from the line.
ELAC's defensive play might have had a hand in Mt. SAC's first quarter offense, which was 30.8% from two-point shot attempts (4-of-13 with one assist), 2-for-2 from beyond the arc and 1‑of‑6 from the charity stripe.
During the second quarter, the Huskies went on a 12-0 run that began with two free throws from Martinez 27 seconds into the period, culminating with a freshman center Anastasia Tsybaeva (Burbank HS) jump shot, assisted by Gomez, with 1:43 before the half.
ELAC outscored the Mounties 16-8 in the second quarter. Tsybaeva's strength in the post was key. She scored six points in the quarter. The Mounties went around her in shot attempts.
ELAC's 17-point halftime lead included the Huskies outshooting Mt. SAC 45.6 – 24.5 percent, a reversal of when ELAC was outshot 56.3 – 31 percent in the two South Coast Conference North Division losses to the Mounties.
Mt. SAC outscored ELAC 14-2 to begin the second half. With the Mounties trying to add to the run, a key Tsybaeva defensive play created a Mt. SAC turnover and Gomez scored a layup four seconds later. ELAC led 38-31 with 5:07 left in the third quarter.
Mt. SAC outscored ELAC 8-5 for the remainder of the quarter that included a Mountie freshman Jonnae Vermillion layup at the buzzer. ELAC led 43-39 going into the final quarter.
The final quarter had five lead changes and four ties. Mt. SAC tied it at 45-45 with 6:48 left in the game and again at 47-47 with 4:54 remaining.
ELAC forward Jasmin Leal entered the game for 51 seconds and connected on a 3-point bomb, assisted by Tweedy, with 4:14 left and ELAC lead 50-47.
Mt. SAC ran off a 7-0 run for a 54-50 lead with 2:04 left in the game. The Huskies responded with a 5-0 run.
Tweedy connected on the first of two free throws with 1:12 left and Gomez made a layup with 35 seconds left with the crowd screaming. ELAC was down 54-53.
After a Mountie turnover, ELAC freshman guard Brianne Cheatum (Canyon Springs HS) sank two free throws with 26 seconds remaining and ELAC then led 55-54.
Mt. SAC followed with three-consecutive points while the Huskies missed two shots and ELAC lost a nail biter of a finish.
Each team had two players score in double figures. For ELAC it was Gomez with 13 points and Tsybaeva with 10.
For Mt. SAC it was sophomore Alize' Lofton (Lynwood HS) and Vermillion who each had a double double. Lofton scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds. Vermillion scored 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Gates and Sanchez each had a team-high seven rebounds, Gomez had a team-high five assists and Tsybaeva had a team-high three blocked shots.
ELAC shot 12-of-14 from the line, with Cheatum (4-of-4), Smith (2-of-2) and Martinez (2-of-2) connecting on all of their free throw attempts.
Sophomores that ended their ELAC careers were Gates, forward Saray Rivera (Roosevelt HS), Sanchez and Tweedy.
Sanchez ends her ELAC one-year career with 116 offensive rebounds, 13th-best in the state and 10.3 points-per-game average. Tweedy scored 9.1 points per game and had 75 steals, 21st-best in the state. Gates totaled 225 rebounds, 47th-best in the state from around 1,000 statewide players.
The Huskies dance on center stage resulted in the top women's basketball season in ELAC's history as the state runner-up.
In seven seasons as the head coach at ELAC, Bruce Turner has coached the Huskies to the CCCAA playoffs four of the previous five years including an Elite Eight finish and two Final Four appearances.
The Huskies were a state championship semifinalist last season and finished 29-4. ELAC lost to Mt. SAC, 62-60, in an Elite Eight game in 2012.
submitted by Tadzio Garcia