By Andrew Ruiz
The East Los Angeles College men’s basketball team fell to No. 1-seed Saddleback College, 50-47, in the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship at Cerritos College on March 15.
No. 13-seed ELAC came out with the early 10-2 lead and led in majority of the contest before Saddleback sophomore guard Dusty Baker scored four consecutive points with less than three minutes gave the Gauchos a 48-45 lead.
On the ensuing play, freshman guard Maleke Haynes’ layup extended the Gauchos’ lead to three.
“(We had a) little bit of a breakdown defensively,” Husky Head Coach John Mosley said. “Offensively, just not being able to get a good shot. We talked all year about possessions and we came up short on our possessions.”
Aside from committing 18 turnovers, the Huskies struggled as they tried to maintain the Gauchos’ inside presence. Saddleback outscored the Huskies in the paint, 30-8.
Seven-foot sophomore center Conor Clifford scored 16 of those 30 points.
Sophomore guard Andrew Bournes had 14 points for the Gauchos.
Freshman forward Marquis Salmon was the only Husky to score in double digits (15 points).
After posting a season-high 23 points in ELAC’s final four win over Merritt College on March 13, sophomore forward Primitivo Gomez only scored five points in the first half. Gomez went scoreless in the second half.
Sophomore guards Je’Ron Primus and Marcus Romain struggled offensively as the duo combined for four first half points and also went scoreless in the second half.
“I just never developed a rhythm. The calls weren’t going my way and I felt I didn’t get the usual shot attempts that I’m accustomed to getting,” Romain said. “It was just a bad game for me. I feel like I let down my team with the performance.”
Romain went 0-for-4 from the field and committed five turnovers.
But despite the outcome, coach Mosley is proud of the way his team battled throughout the playoffs as the Huskies made major accomplishments and exceeded expectations.
“We made it here to the finals. It’s the first time in school history that we made it this far,” he said. “To be able to come from a No. 13 seed from a play-in game to get here (in the championship) is amazing.”