By Bryce Ronquillo
History was made on March 7 when the women’s basketball team defeated Irvine Valley College 75-62 making its first Final Four appearance.
The East Los Angeles College men’s gym was filled with 175 people watching the CCCAA Southern California Regional playoff game.
“I’m as happy as can be,” ELAC Head Coach Bruce Turner said. “I liked the way our match-ups looked at the beginning of the playoffs. I knew we had a chance to get here.”
ELAC found that spark when their intense defense began to cause Irvine Valley to turn the ball over.
The Huskies forced 22 turnovers and only committed 15 as a team.
The defense caused a momentum swing that allowed ELAC to score some easy points in transition.
Irvine Valley responded with some defensive planning of its own by setting up a full court press.
It was no issue for ELAC’s guards who were able to push the tempo and score easy baskets.
Freshman guard Kyla Martin-Burnley is one of ELAC’s best scorers in transition fast breaks.
She was able to run the floor and put herself in a position to score.
“I just play what the defense gives me,” Martin-Burnley said.
Martin-Burnley led all scores with 24 points going 9-for-9 from the field and 5-for-7 from the free throw line. She also added seven rebounds.
ELAC went into the locker room with a 33-29 lead to end the half.
Irvine Valley came out in the second half playing a zone defense.
“It was definitely a chess match type of game tonight,” Turner said. “She (Irvine Valley Head Coach Julie Hanks) did good things out there with her team tonight.”
Throughout the game, the Huskies dominated the paint on the offensive end. Coming off the bench for the Huskies, freshman forward Abigail Vasquez had 15 points and five rebounds, two being offensive rebounds.
Vasquez shined when given the challenge of going up against Irvine Valley’s 6’1” sophomore center Breanna Turner.
“I was able to trust my teammates to have my weakside help defense when I was guarding her,” Vasquez said.
“Our guards did a very good job of looking for Abigail (Vasquez) in the post… after she scored her first couple buckets, we just kept giving it to her,” Bruce Turner said.
Vasquez has struggled with making it to practice consistently due to working full time.
“ My job gave me time off of work for the playoffs… I’m ready to take basketball more seriously” Vasquez said.
ELAC controlled the tempo of the game most of the second half, making the necessary plays when needed. With 2:30 left in the game, freshman guard Olivia Ochoa made a three-pointer to extend the lead to 66-54.
“It feels great to have teammates I can trust,” Ochoa said. “I am very blessed to be a part of this team. I can’t wait to play on Saturday.”