By Dan Gudino
The California Community College Athletic Association placed East Los Angeles women’s basketball at No. 6 for the 2016 Southern California Regional Playoff.
The Huskies with a 20-9 record, will face off at home against No. 11 Santa Ana College (17-11) on Friday at 5 p.m. ELAC and the top 13 teams start play in the second round, first round teams No. 14-19 will play Friday.
The Huskies have made the playoffs for the third straight year.
Last year, ELAC advanced to the State Championship Tournament after it advanced out of the So. Calif. Regional Playoff.
ELAC lost to the eventual state champion Chabot College, 84-77, in the semifinal, one game away from the championship. This year’s team has star power to help finish the road to state.
Awarded into the All-South Coast Conference North First Team are freshman guard Tiffani Martinez and sophomore guard Jessica Sanchez.
Martinez shows the potential to be a threat at the three-point line. She led the South Coast Conference in three-pointers and scored the second most three-pointers in the state with 103. She led the Huskies in scoring, averaging 14 points per game.
“Martinez is special. Everyone thinks she’s just a shooter, but it’s her defense that makes her so good,” head coach Bruce Turner said.
Voted into All-South Coast Conference North Second Team are sophomores Jasmine Gates and Yasmine Tweedey.
The long layoff between games will serve the Huskies. After they lost the last three of four games, ELAC will look to regroup.
The seven days of rest will prepare for Santa Ana’s freshman forward Blaysen Varnadoe. Varnadoe averages 20 points per game.
“We’re ready. We’ve prepared ourselves for different types of situations in the playoffs, situations that can cost us the game like last- second situations. We need to be prepared for anything,” Turner said.
Statistically, this team does not match up to last year’s team.
Last year, ELAC was ranked No. 2 into the playoffs. Coach Turner does not care about records or stats.
“If we can just play our game and disrupt on defense, we’ll be all right,” Turner said.
Friday’s game could become a game of strategy. Santa Ana head coach Flo Luppami, like Turner, has spent over a decade as head coach.
“You would think experience will be a key, but we have only one player who played five minutes during last year’s run. We’ll rely on everyone.” Turner said.