By Tadzio Garcia
The Huskies stunned the state’s No. 7-ranked Los Angeles Valley College with a comeback that sent their California Community College Athletic Association second round playoff game into overtime, but eventually lost 9
ELAC, No. 14-ranked in the final South Region poll, fell just short of an upset at Valley even being down two players.Starting freshman guard Jasmine Gates sat on the bench due to an injury.
Gates had 91 defensive rebounds this season, 17th best in the state, and connected on 37.4 percent of her three-point shot attempts.Her replacement, forward Kimberly Perez who started for
the first time this season, did not score against Valley.
“Sitting on the bench watching my team struggle was by far the hardest thing ever. It was like watching someone mess with my sisters and I couldn’t do anything about it,” Gates said.
“I cheered my team on and made sure they knew I may not have been on the court physically, but I wanted them to feel my presence.”
ELAC, starter and sophomore forward Stephanie Rodriguez also did not play.Rodriguez averaged
9.4 points per every 40 minutes played this season, 18th best in the state.She has not played since late January. ELAC Head Coach Bruce Turner did not comment when asked why.
Despite playing a short team, ELAC almost pulled off an upset of a No.14-seed beating a No. 3-seed.Valley built a 75-57 lead with 6:09 left in the game in a second-half yawn fest as displayed by the quiet Valley home crowd.
ELAC went on a 26-8 run that ended with sophomore guard Dioseline Lopez three-point swish just before the final buzzer, followed by a screaming, jumping uproar of the ELAC contingent.Valley fans stood in disbelief, many with their hands on their head. “We never stopped playing and believed we would win,” ELAC center Karina Ortiz said.
Ortiz was named to the CCCAA All-State Academic team. Her season-total 99 blocked shots is third-best in the state. Lopez scored a two-season game high 33 points against Valley.
ELAC freshman forward Jocelyn Diaz had a double-double against Valley, her third this season, with 10 rebounds and 10 points.
Lopez was named the 2013-14 SCC North Division Player-of-the-Year and to the CCCAA Southern California All-State Third Team. Lopez averaged 7.2 assists-per-game, third-best in the state.
Huskies named to the All-SCC North Division First Team include Ortiz and freshman guard Taylor Smith. Ortiz led the SCC in blocked shots and was third best in the state. ELAC ended their season 17-12 overall. Valley (26-5) will host the state’s No. 13-ranked Chaffey College (22-7) in the Sweet 16.