By Andrew Ruiz
The Huskies’ basketball team hopes of claiming its first California Community College Athletic Association State Championship trophy was shattered in a tough 50-47 loss to top-seeded Saddleback College on Sunday at Cerritos College.
East Los Angeles College jumped out to an early 10-2 start and maintained the lead for the majority of the game, but gave up four points and the lead in the final minute.
“(We had a) little bit of a breakdown defensively,” Husky Head Coach John Mosley said. “Offensively (we) just (weren’t) able to get a good shot. We talked all year about possessions and we came up short on our possessions.”
Possessions have been an ongoing issue throughout the season for the Huskies.
Before entering the playoffs, ELAC averaged 24 turnovers per game in conference and 21 overall.
On Sunday, the Huskies committed 18 turnovers including a fumbled catch from sophomore guard Je’Ron Primus that went out of bounds and could have given the Huskies a one-point lead with 30 seconds left.
The Gauchos dominated the paint outscoring the Huskies, 30-8. Sophomore seven-foot center Conor Clifford was an offensive force scoring 16 of those 30.
“That’s the strength of their game. We knew that that would be the case,” Mosley said. “We just tried to limit it and make it tough for the big fella.”
Saddleback sophomore guard Andrew Bournes had 14 points.
ELAC was led by freshman forward Marquis Salmon who was the only player to score in double digits, 15 points.
After scoring a season-high 23 points in Friday’s win over Merritt College, ELAC sophomore forward Primitivo Gomez scored all five of his points in the first half.
Sophomore guards Je’Ron Primus (3 points) and Marcus Romain (1 point) struggled offensively as the duo 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.
Aside from feeling he let his team down, Romain also felt he let down his mentors by not being able to bring home a state championship in his last game in an ELAC jersey.
“It hurts (to not be able to win),” Romain said. “I wanted to do it for guys like (ELAC Athletic Director Al) Cone, coach Mosley—guys that went out of their way to help out the athletes and put us in a good situation to be successful. That’s what hurts the most.”
According to Mosley, the Gauchos disrupted Romain from the beginning and his emotions are what affected his star guards performance.
“(Marcus) is the leading scorer and a guy that everybody keys on. (Teams) come out to frustrate him by hitting him or whatever it is,” Mosley said. “Everybody is coming after him and he’s emotional. Some of the emotion is what makes him a better player. They really come after him and a lot of people really key on that.”
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.”