By Marina Gutierrez
The men’s basketball team never gave up and persevered through countless penalties to
defeat Cerritos College with a final score of 77-72.
The Huskies started strong when they won the tip off and immediately gained possession of the ball.
Shooting guard Jalai Okeith scored the first 3-pointer of the game which put the Huskies on the scoreboard within the first 30 seconds of the half.
The Husky offense made multiple shot attempts, and they made sure to go after every rebound. The second Husky basket was made by forward Dylan Godfrey, who rebounded the ball after a failed shot attempt.
Cerritos offense immediately retaliated when they made two back-to-back baskets, the first off a rebound and the second by winning a 1-on-1 against a Husky defender.
Shortly after, the first penalty call against ELAC was made and changed the momentum of the game.
Cerritos offense, fueled by their first free throw attempt, quickly started dominating the Husky defense.
Cerritos offense dribbled swiftly down the court making a layup, and another foul was called against ELAC. Cerritos forward Dillon Botts made a free throw, making it a 3-point play. This allowed Cerritos to catch up, and the score became 7-7.
Benefitting from the referee’s calls, Cerritos momentum picked up. Cerritos open player Marcel Hayes made a layup which gave Cerritos a 2 point lead, making the score 9-7.
The next foul called against ELAC left a Cerritos offensive player on the ground for several minutes until he was subbed out.
Following another Husky basket, both Brandon Wilson and Javion Langston came off the bench ready to play. Wilson made a good pass to Langston who was then fouled which led to a free throw opportunity.
Langston’s second free throw point was short lived when yet another call was made against the Huskies for a line violation, and his chance to shoot again was ultimately missed.
Shortly after the line violation call, ELAC fouled Cerritos. Cerritos made both free throws, bringing the score to 11-10.
The Huskies continued to hustle up and down the court and made multiple shot attempts that missed.
The Huskies struggled to score with the obscene amount of penalties against them. Cerritos gained the lead, with 7:56 left in the first half the score was now 22-15.
As penalties continued to be called against ELAC, the Huskies momentum started to slow. Cerritos began to recover the ball and drove down the court to score.
Guard/forward Gregory Melvin was fouled and made his first of two free throws.
Okeith quickly rebounded Melvin’s second missed free throw attempt and made the basket while getting fouled, which gave the Huskies an opportunity for a 3-point play.
Okeith missed his free throw attempt but it was rebounded by guard Kamren Williams who was ultimately fouled and made both his free throw attempts.
The Huskies’ resilience during this play helped them slowly catch up to Cerritos. The score became 28-22 with 5:45 left in the first half.
Throughout the next 5:00 of the half, countless questionable fouls were called against ELAC which led to Cerritos gaining most of their points by free throws.
Coaches were visibly and verbally frustrated with the lack of fouls called against Cerritos.
Near the end of the half, Melvin and guard Daniel Michelini-Jackson’s chemistry was apparent. The two worked well together both with multiple shots and multiple rebounds.
Despite the penalties against them the Huskies made continuous efforts to score until the end of the first half, but were still behind. Going into halftime, the score was 41-33.
“I tell my guys all the time to be prepared for games like this where it seems the referees are against us. I make it clear that if they want to go all the way and be a championship team they have to be prepared for any situation,” Head Coach John Mosley said.
Mosley’s words went into action when the Huskies returned from halftime ready to dominate.
The Huskies overall performance improved. They made better passes, stronger defense and finishes for multiple Husky baskets.
Jackson’s hustle became beyond noticeable throughout the second half. He persevered through every penalty, continuing to be called and never giving up. He made multiple baskets and went after every single rebound.
Every time the Huskies caught up to Cerritos another foul was called against them, keeping the lead out of reach.
Melvin also pushed through adversity and continued to fight for the team’s victory. Melvin and Jackson’s chemistry shined on the court.
With only 4:00 left in the game, Cerritos player Botts tripped over his own shoes and the referees called it a foul against ELAC. Once both free throws were made, the score was 67-60.
Jackson continued to fight until the very end, making two free throws and a basket back-to-back.
“All I could think about during this time is our playoff chances. Losing is not an option. Winning is what motivates me,” Jackson said.
The game intensified as more penalties were called and Cerritos began to make game changing 3-pointers.
The Huskies never gave up. With 50 seconds left in the game, the Huskies were up by 1 making it 73-72.
Cerritos desperately called for a timeout.
Melvin quickly intercepted Cerritos’ in-bound pass, shooting the ball but missing. It was rebounded and made by Jackson.
Cerritos called another timeout which once again led to a strong Husky defensive stop and a strong Husky basket.
After a close game, the Huskies won with a final score of 77-72.
Jackson had a total of 25 points and 7 rebounds.
Melvin had a total of 11 points and 15 rebounds that helped lead his team to victory.
“The reason I was able to play hard until the very end is because I don’t let the referee’s calls dictate the way I play. I don’t allow it to have an effect on my individual performance,” Melvin said.
Pushing through adversity was no small feat for the team and their effort did not go unnoticed.
“I was proud of the overall outcome of the game. The team is a new group of young guys and we’re still learning how to win,” Mosley said.
The team has a home game tonight against El Camino. They have an away game against LA Southwest next Wednesday at 5 p.m.