By Dan Gudino
The women’s basketball team made it back to the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship final four after it’s victory March 5 over Mount San Jacinto College, 76-65.
The back-to-back appearance into the final four was sparked by a complete team effort against MSJC.
The Huskies battled through the worst second quarter of the season, only scoring four points as MSJC scored 21 points.
“They thought we were going to lie down and take the loss, but that was not going to happen,” East Los Angeles College sophomore guard Jasmine Gates said.
“We had to realize we drove two hours to get to San Jacinto and we did not want to take that long drive back knowing we did not have another game.”
The Huskies scheduled 19 games away from ELAC to help them get accustomed to playing on the road.
“The crowd was a factor, we probably had 15 people in the crowd (at MSJC) and their whole gym was packed. It was crazy. What was amazing was when we made the whole crowd quiet with the score shifting in our direction. At that point, it felt we had more fans than they did,” Gates said.
ELAC will take one more road trip to Livermore to play at Los Positas College to face the No. 1 team in the north, San Francisco College on Friday at 7 p.m.
Last year ELAC made it to the final four, but was stopped by the eventual 2015 champion Chabot College.
“We’re excited of the opportunity. Last year we came out a little nervous. It’s part of the reason why we scheduled so many games out of ELAC. If you look at our record, we actually have a better record on the road than we do at home,” ELAC head coach Bruce Turner said.
Fighting nerves, according to many ELAC players, will be a factor in the beginning of the game, but once in the game, it always goes away.
“I’m not nervous yet, but when it comes to game time, I’m sure I’ll be nervous. I don’t have anything to calm my nerves once I’m in the game. The nerves always get out. You get them out by just playing the game,” freshman guard Allissa Gomez said.
ELAC players are constantly reminded of the loss last year to Chabot by coach Turner.
“We are tired of it. Coach is always bringing up last year’s team. We’re tired of being compared to last year’s team. We are not they. We are a totally different team, a totally different roster; everyone on our team is mostly a freshman, but we’re proving coach wrong, little by little,” sophomore guard Yasmine Tweedy said.
Experiencing the final four will be new for many on the ELAC roster.
“I feel like the first game of the playoffs knocked out all the nerves. I’m just going to have fun. I feel like just having fun. We got here to this point by keeping a positive attitude,” Tweedy said.
Living up to the potential of last year’s team will not be a goal. It will instead be focused on creating its own story.
“This a new season. We have our own potential, and that is exactly what we’ve done. We got this. I’m confident in our team,” freshman Kamara Smith said.