By Carlos Alvarez
The East Los Angeles College men’s basketball South Coast Conference opener against Pasadena City College came down to the final seconds, with the Huskies coming away with a 65-61 victory.
With 35.7 seconds left on the game clock Husky leading scorer Aaron Cheatum grabbed a defensive rebound and dribbled down the court scoring on a driving lay-up while drawing the foul. Cheatum added the free throw to complete the three-point play, putting ELAC up 62-59 and giving the Huskies a three-point lead with 30 seconds left on the game clock.
“My body just took over. I’m a key returner in this team. My teammates trusted me to come through,” Cheatum said, after the game.
The last seconds of the game turned into a free throw shooting exhibition. Husky starting forward Te’shon Burton made three key free throws to seal the victory.
In a matchup of two of the top teams in Southern California, the game was an ugly display of offense, but a perfect example of a stingy defense and determination to win.
“It was an ugly game. We didn’t execute on offense, but our defense was great. It was a scrappy game. We came out on top, but Pasadena was just as good today,” ELAC’s Head Coach John Mosley said.
With ELAC’s offense struggling throughout the first half, Pasadena guard Jeffrey Dockett was at his best inside the paint and from three-point range.
Dockett scored 12 points in the first half alone, to give Pasadena a 33-31 lead at the half. The lone bright spot for the Huskies was forward Primitivo Gomez who had eight points in the first half.
The second half was more of the same for both teams. “We began the second half with turnovers and with no rhythm offensively,” Mosley said.
With both teams struggling offensively, the game turned physical as each loose ball became a display of determination and strength.
The Huskies took their first lead of the game 41-39 with 12:34 left on the clock, behind the aggressive and energetic play of forward Zach Hinton.
“We came out with more energy to begin the second half. It was a hard fought game,” Hinton said.
After scoring five points in the first half, Hinton lead the team in the second hald with 11 points and finished the game with a total of 16 points.
PCC’s forward Bryce Clifton matched Hinton’s physical play collecting six rebounds, five of them coming in the offensive side.
The game went back and forward with no team leading by more than three points.
With Pasadena leading 59-58, Cheatum showed everyone what has made him one of the best players in Southern California and the game was over.
“That is what he (Cheatum) does. He is our leading scorer. Amazing play by him,” Mosley said.
The Huskies continue conference play tomorrow against El Camino College Compton Center College, which lost a close game to Los Angeles Trade Tech College 77-76.
With this victory, the Husky winning streak reached four. ELAC’s Athletic Director Al Cone said, “It’s better to win ugly, than to lose pretty.”