By Tadzio Garcia
The East Los Angeles college men’s and women’s basketball teams begin their South Coast Conference North-Division campaigns with two showdowns tomorrow at Pasadena City College.
The men’s game pits the state’s No.17-ranked Huskies, 11-4 overall, against No 19-ranked Pasadena (12-4) at 5 p.m. to see who begins the conference race in the driver’s seat.
“Pasadena is a good team that we have a lot of respect for. All we have to do is play our game like we know how to play and come together as one. We love a challenge and Pasadena will be a good test for us for the new season,” Husky Zach Hinton said.
The No.11-ranked (South Region poll) ELAC women’s team (10-5) will have a tougher time against the state’s No. 3-ranked Pasadena (11-4). Game time will be at 7 p.m.
Both men’s teams matchup even on paper. The Huskies are 5-1 against common opponents compared to Pasadena’s 4-3 record. ELAC is 4-2 against ranked opponents while Pasadena is 0-3.
“We played a tough nonconference schedule with some of the state’s best competition to prepare us for games like this. Pasadena is a very tough team,” ELAC’s second-year head coach John Mosley said.
Pasadena enters the game against the Huskies riding a six-game win streak. ELAC has won three straight.
ELAC opened the year with a 75-64 victory in front of a raucous Porterville College (6-8) crowd.
“The crowd was extremely loud. I just tried to tune them out and made sure I yelled loud enough so my teammates could hear the plays I called,” ELAC’s Davian Wilson said.
The Huskies were up 45-14 at the break. Mosley rotated the entire team in the second half instead of running up the score.
Mosley plays his entire team regardless of who the Huskies are playing. “If it’s a close game non-starters learn the experience of playing in tense situations,” Mosley said.
Eleven of 13 Huskies scored against Porterville. ELAC’s Aaron Cheatum had a double-double. He scored 20 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
“We got the win in Porterville with everybody getting some time in,” Wilson said.
The Huskies closed-out 2013 with an 80-59 consolation championship win over Santa Ana College at the San Diego Mesa College Holiday Inn Tournament. ELAC beat Victor Valley, 106-105, in double-overtime in the consolation semifinals.
“Victor Valley was a tough game. They have the leading scorer in the state and we were down 14 points at the half. The win was big for us,” Wilson said.
Pasadena holds an edge over the ELAC’s women’s basketball team in common opponents when records are compared.
The Huskies lost to the state’s No.1-ranked Ventura College (15-3), 87-58, while Pasadena handed the Pirates to close losses. SCC rival Mt. San Antonio College gave Ventura their other loss.
“We respected Ventura because they were top-ranked. They did not intimidate us and we came out and played our game in the first half,” Husky Alexis Valles said.
The SCC has five ranked teams. “The conference has a lot of good teams this year. We are looking forward to the challenge and we are excited about beginning conference play against Pasadena,” seventh-year ELAC Head Coach Bruce Turner said.
The Huskies closed out their nonconference schedule beating SCC rival El Camino College (9-5), 68-58, in the third place game at the Ventura College Optimist Club Tournament.
“It was a great win and also the victory over Riverside (City College),” ELAC’s Karina Ortiz said.
The Huskies opened tournament play with a 69-48 win over Riverside.
ELAC can play with anybody in the state. ELAC beat El Camino who beat Pasadena who beat Ventura who beat ELAC.
Also, ELAC was only down 41-34 at halftime against Ventura and their 350 screaming fans in the tournament semifinals. “They (ELAC) followed their game plan, overcame the crowd and played unselfish ball. They got off focus in the second half,” ELAC’s third-year Assistant Coach Sarai Trinidad said.
Jocelyn Diaz was the lone Husky named to the All-Tournament team. Diaz led the Huskies in scoring with 36 tournament points and 24 total rebounds. She scored 24 points against El Camino.
Ortiz blocked eight shots against Riverside and had a tournament total of 15 blocked shots. She
also had 24 tournament rebounds.
Other ELAC tournament totals included Dioseline Lopez’s 22 assists and Angelica Trinidad who came off the bench to add 30 points, 12 steals and nine assists.
Both ELAC teams play five of their next six games on the road.
Both teams host El Camino on Jan. 29 in ELAC’s men’s gym, the week classes begin.