By Will Hernandez
The East Los Angeles College men’s basketball team capitalized on their home court advantage and defeated LA Harbor College Wednesday night 75-66, improving their overall record to 17-6.
The Huskies have enjoyed playing at home, extending their home record to 7-0 with the victory. A big part in winning on home turf is a supportive crowd that’s vocal, and ELAC had just that.
Entering the game ELAC was ranked 15th statewide and remains tied for third in the South Coast Conference standings behind Cerritos and Mt. San Antonio colleges, who are both tied for first.
The biggest lead the Huskies had in the first half was five, when guard Frankie Aguilar drained a wide open three-pointer, 31-26.
The first half was low scoring for both teams combining for a total of 63 points. The Huskies led by a slim three points 33-30, heading into the locker room.
Both teams were neck-and-neck throughout the game. When it looked like ELAC was going to break the score open Harbor found a way to keep it close. A big reason was their tough zone defense.
Coming out of the locker room in the second half, Husky guard Chris Brown had an easy three-point opportunity with a shot off the glass. He was fouled and went to the line where he converted, putting ELAC up 36-30.
For the early portion of the second half the score remained tight as each team played stingy defense keeping their shooting percentage down.
A scary moment in the game happened when Harbor forward Aubrey Myers got fouled hard off a fast break play that was started when Brown got his pocket picked. Myers hit the floor hard, but got up without any assistance. He made both free throws cutting ELAC’s lead to three points, 42-39.
Momentum began to turn towards ELAC’s favor when guard Harris Javier drained a three-pointer off an assist from Aaron Cheatum, putting the Huskies up five points, 46-41.
Javier’s shot was a sparkplug for the Huskies three-point rally as they made four consecutive shots from downtown in as many offensive series, going up 55-45.
After the game, ELAC Head Coach John Mosley spoke about the encouraging shooting performance, “We shot it well tonight. They were playing a 2-3 zone defense so it was hard to score inside the interior because of their length. We were fortunate enough to shoot well. They usually hold teams to 50 points and we scored seventy-five.”
The momentum swing was getting everyone riled up, including both the home and away crowd, prompting them to rant at the game referees saying, “he’s out of control ref,” when Harbor was called for a defensive foul.
Husky forward Jaree Crawford was quiet for the most part of the first half, getting into early foul trouble with two personals forcing Mosley to keep him on the bench. But in the second half Crawford made his presence felt with 11 points capping it off with a fall-away jump shot off that put ELAC, 61-51.
Harbor cut ELAC’s lead to five, 62-57, with three minutes left in the game when forward Sheldon Blevins made a shot off the glass.
Sophomore guard Dushon Carter put the nail in the coffin when he made a shoulder shrug move to beat the Harbor defender and finished it with a left-handed layup. After Carter’s bucket, ELAC had a comfortable lead, 65-57, with two minutes left in the game.
Post-game, Javier spoke about the offensive strategy that defeated the 2-3 zone of Harbor’s defense and his role in it, “My role today was to set up the offense. We played a good zone defense. We’re not use to playing against that but we were able to execute and break it down,” Javier said.
Harbor never had a real chance to get back into the game and went to the last chance resort of fouling and hoping to capitalize on missed free throws. The Huskies took advantage of the free throw opportunities and put the game away for good.
The Huskies next play at El Camino College Compton Center Friday night. The Huskies look to break their road curse as they’ve lost their last two games on the road away from home.
Mosley spoke about what needs to be done to break the losing streak saying, “We just got to be aware that every night is a fight. Every team is fighting for their chance to make it into the playoffs, so we’ve got to play above the home crowd (on the road) and step it up just a little bit more.”