By Will Hernandez
For the first time since last season, the East Los Angeles College men’s basketball team lost at home, defeated yesterday by Long Beach City College, 78-73, at the ELAC men’s gym.
The Huskies host Pasadena City College, which will be a decisive division showdown with playoff implications on the line, after PCC got routed yesterday 68-47, by Los Angeles Harbor College.
Both teams entered last night’s game at first place in their South Coast Conference subdivisions (North & South), and LBCC ranked the No.12 team overall in Southern California (South).
“One thing I like about East LA is that they play hard and compete. I told my guys that if we matched their intensity, you never know what could happen.
“It was a statement we had to make. Every game down the stretch is a playoff game,” Long Beach City Head Coach Barry Barnes said.
Ahead by 13 points (51-38) at halftime, ELAC collapsed in the second half by letting their foot off the gas pedal on defense and offense, outscored by 18 points in the half.
“Ultimately our whole philosophy is defense and out-rebounding and in the second half we didn’t do that. When you do those things well, it generates offense,” ELAC Head Coach John Mosely said.
ELAC received a tall boost in the first half from 6’8 forward Denzel Council who delivered six points, four of which came from free throws after Council jumped up for two dunk attempts, but was fouled hard, this prevented him from converting.
On LBCC’s end they faced an uphill battle after halftime, but focused their attention toward limiting Husky forward Aaron Cheatum.
“In the first (half) we rushed a lot of open shots and didn’t convert, and in the second half we just scored better. Their big man number 20 (Cheatum), got off to a really good start but we got him into foul trouble, and double-teamed him because nobody else was able to score,” LBCC guard Brandon Staton said.
ELAC received a boost from the bench. Guard Frankie Aguilar scored seven points, and played some major minutes down to the wire.
“We just let down, the energy we played with in the first half, didn’t come out in the second. In these next four games, we’ve got to play with the same energy, and same tempo because they’re all playoff games…We’re trying to make the playoffs and lock up a home seat,” Aguilar said.
The Huskies played incredible offense in the first half and successfully moved the ball around to hit open shooters. ELAC had defeated their last two opponents, (LA Southwest & El Camino colleges) by a combined 45 points.
Cheatum had 19 points yesterday, and said the team “can’t take any play’s off” in the final four games, home stretch.
“I prefer to win than that. But this gives our guy’s a chance to go back and look at what they did wrong, and continue to get better.”