By William Hernandez, Alfonso Rivera and Tadzio Garcia
In a year filled with firsts, the Huskies open another chapter to their history-making season as they host the Cerritos College basketball team in the California Community College Athletic Association’s women’s basketball Southern California Regional semifinals. Game time is tonight at 7 p.m.
The winner moves on to the SoCal Regional finals next Saturday facing the victor of the Mt. SAC (27-3), Chaffey (24-6) game. The state’s No. 7-ranked Huskies, and fifth-seeded Cerritos, tied for second place in the South Coast Conference by splitting their games.
Cerritos won a home game against the Huskies, 73-71, in overtime on January 6. The Huskies returned the favor by winning 62-58 at ELAC a month later. Cerritos (23-7) beat College of the Canyons in the second-round of the playoffs, 79-60 last Saturday.
The Huskies (23-6) beat Irvine Valley College, 74-66, last Friday. The Lasers ended their season, 18-12. The Huskies held double-digit leads most of the second half in front of a large crowd. The closest Irvine got was the final score.
“We won with an overall team effort using our depth in key situations. Dominique Scott and Antineisha Hill came off the bench and did some good things. Francis Ordonez played a good all-around floor game and used her length very well,” said six-year coach Bruce Turner.
All-SCC guard Keyanna Johnson led all scorers with 33 points. Johnson was 12-of-13 from the line and had eight steals for the Huskies. Second team All-SCC forward Ordonez contributed 12 points, was 6-of-8 at the line and pulled down 9 rebounds. First team All-SCC forward Jamie Robinson chipped in seven points and six rebounds.
Scott scored seven points; all at the line, while second team All-SCC forward Hill cleaned up the glass with a game high 11 rebounds.
Leading the Laser attack was Shomari McCorkle with 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Melanie Kashanchi scored 15 points including a perfect five-of-five from the line, had four assists and five rebounds. Other Irvine standouts included Amber Wharton with 14 points and five rebounds.
Dominique Santos scored 12 points, six points off two 3-point baskets and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. “We gave it our all. I am very proud of my kids. We return our core, had good recruiting and will come out strong next year,” said 14-year Irvine head coach Julie Harris.
ELAC shot 31.7 percent for the game making up the difference in free throws connecting on 33-of-40 at the line. Irvine made 20-of-29 free throws. The game started with the Lasers taking advantage of the slow start the Huskies got off to. At 13:03 left in the first half, the Huskies were trailing Irvine by five, 11-16
Most of the Huskies mistakes, early in the first half, came off the second chance opportunities that allowed the Lasers to capitalize on. At 6:29 left in the first half, the Huskies only trailed by two, 21-23. Them, the Huskies began to take control of both the game and momentum going up by five 29-24 with less than four minutes remaining in the half.
The Huskies took the lead, frustrating the Lasers by controlling rebounds, playing stingy defense, and winning the turnover battle. Going into the locker room the Lady Huskies had a lead of nine points 37-28. Johnson led the Huskies at that point in field goals with 16 first half points and steals triggering numerous fast break points keeping the Lasers on their heels.
In the second half the Huskies picked right from where they left off, forcing Laser mistakes and capitalizing on all of those mistakes on offense. The final score was a 74-66 victory for the Huskies.
“It was a solid win, nothing fancy. As long as we play our game we’ll be just fine,” said coach Bruce Turner. On his expectations for tonight’s game Turner said, “We are going to show up, we’re going to have home court so that’s good, and win.”