By Andrew Ruiz
East Los Angeles College men’s basketball Head Coach John Mosley’s pregame speech to the team was clear and concise before the Huskies hosted Los Angeles Trade Technical College on Feb. 18.
“If we want to extend our season, we have to win,” he said.
The Huskies acknowledged the message and accepted the challenge by defeating Trade Tech, 84-77, in the final game of South Coast Conference North Division play to extend their winning streak to three games.
“Trade Tech is really talented, their record doesn’t indicate it,” Mosley said of the Beavers, who are 5-22 overall and 0-8 in the SCC North. “They can climb back (and win the game) with their talent as they did in our first matchup. We knew that they were capable and we just didn’t take care of the ball. Fortunately, we had a big enough lead.”
In their first matchup on Jan. 16, the Huskies would go up 20 before Trade Tech cut the game to single digits. The Beavers forced ELAC to commit 42 turnovers, their highest of the season. ELAC would wind up pulling out the 86-80 win in the closing seconds.
Wednesday nights game was a somewhat iteration to Jan. 16. The Huskies led for majority of the game, this by 22, 62-40, before Trade Tech, again, forced ELAC to commit 27 turnovers on the night, allowing them to cut the deficit to eight with fewer than three minutes to go.
Trade Tech sophomore guard Darnell Christopher made his presence known in the second half with consecutive buckets to shrink the lead. Christopher finished the game with 13 points.
Forwards Antonio Singleton led all scorers with 20 of the Beavers’ 84 points. Jerrodd Blount had 13, and guard Ashwell Boyd finished with 14.
Trade Tech’s only highlight of the night would’ve been its first conference win and derail the Huskies’ hopes of making the postseason, and the Huskies were well aware of that.
“It wasn’t what we expected coming in,” ELAC sophomore guard Je’Ron Primus said. “We had the lead, were up by 20, (they started) pressuring and putting (the defense on us) to cut lead was cut to 10.”
Primus finished the game with 13 points. Freshman forwards Marquis Salmon and Richard Bivens combined for 34 points and sophomore guard Marcus Romain contributed with 10.
With the second-best conference record of 5-3 in the SCC North, ELAC, 17-10 overall, will have home court advantage in the first round of the California Community College Athletic Association playoffs and will host Victor Valley College tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The Huskies have had a week off before facing the Rams, and Mosley will use the days as an advantage for the team to treat any ongoing injuries, but most importantly, will focus on strengthening the team’s biggest weakness: turnovers.
On the season, ELAC’s turnover average is 22 per game, a number Mosley hopes will decrease against Victor Valley in order for the Huskies to remain successful in the playoffs.
“The teams are going to be a lot better and everyone is going to be good,” he said. “Every team is going to be conference champion, number two teams in their (conference) and all of them are going to have less than ten losses. We just have to almost play well and play to perfection.”