By Tadzio Garcia
East Los Angeles College avoided elimination from the playoffs with a win over rival Los Angeles Trade Tech College on Friday and faces a crucial test next week.
Sealing a lock on finishing third place in the South Coast Conference North Division, over Trade Tech, the Huskies are mathematically eligible for an at-large post season bid.
ELAC can sew up a berth with a win over the state’s No. 2-ranked Mt. San Antonio College Feb. 21 in the Men’s Gym at 5 p.m.
“We are ready to get a win over Mt. SAC at home,” second year ELAC Assistant Coach Leonard “Butter” Owens said.
ELAC, 17-10 overall and 7-5 in SCC North Division play, is No. 15- ranked in the South Region poll.
Mt. SAC (21-4, 11-0) will have its hands full with ELAC after narrowly edging the Huskies, 64-59, in Walnut on Jan. 22. Mt. SAC also opened the season top-ranked in the preseason poll and has been a top-six state-ranked team ever since.
ELAC has received votes in 10 of 12 state polls and was No. 11-ranked in the December 9 poll.
The Huskies stunned the then No. 4-ranked team in the state, Pasadena City College on Wednesday at ELAC, 72-67.
“We got a huge win over a good Trade Tech team. We now want to make a (statement) with a win over Mt. SAC to continue to show we can play with the best in the state,” ELAC sophomore center Karina Ortiz said.
With the win over the Lady Techsters, ELAC avenged a 64-59 loss at Trade Tech on January 15.
“We are a different team from the one that played at Trade Tech last month. We are gelling at the right time of the season,” Coach Owens said.
ELAC played unselfish ball, which resulted in 22 assists in the game. “Our defense and playing together as a team, with a lot of passing, is key to winning games,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz, who is key on defense for the Huskies, blocked two shots to the loud approval of the crowd. In the season she averages 3.2 blocked shots per game, third best in the state.
The Huskies took a 7-6 lead three minutes into the game. They never looked back scoring their 100th point when freshman guard Monique Salcedo made a free throw with 0.07 of a second left.
This is the third game of the season that the Huskies have scored over 100 points. In those games ELAC sophomore guard Dioseline Lopez had 39 combined assists. Lopez had a double-double with 27 points and 11 assists against Trade Tech.
Also adding a double-double was freshman forward Jocelyne Diaz with 29 points and 10 rebounds. Diaz lit up the glass after the first half scoring 25 second-half points.
Trade Tech freshman guard Patrice Darden scored a team high 18 points.