By Andrew Ruiz
It was all smiles as the East Los Angeles College men’s basketball team defeated El Camino Compton College Center, 85-72, Jan. 14 earning its first South Coast Conference North Division win.
After a tough one-point loss in overtime Jan. 9 at home to Pasadena City College, ELAC defended its home court and gave Compton its first loss in conference play, snapping the Tartars’ seven-game winning streak.
“It feels good, the guys worked hard,” ELAC Head Coach John Mosley said. “We were in a slump for a minute, but the guys kept grinding and working to get there.”
The Huskies came out as the aggressors and extended their lead to 23 at one point. The Tartars would make a run in the second half after a layup from Compton sophomore center James Boyd to cut the deficit to four, but ELAC’s lead grew as time expired.
Offensively, the Huskies broke down the Tartars’ zone defense that led to wide open shots. The team shot 51.5 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc.
ELAC’s unselfishness showed as the Huskies combined for 19 assists. Sophomore shooting guard Michael Cardenas led the team with six.
Defensively, ELAC disrupted Compton’s offensive flow with tenacious defense forcing 24 turnovers and scoring 24 points off of those turnovers.
“We were going to press them a little bit and have them make mistakes so that we could get easy baskets, because they have the big guy (Boyd) in there who leads the state in rebounding,” Mosley said. “We wanted to keep him out of the game as much as possible.”
Mosley’s game plan of keeping Boyd off the glass worked as ELAC held California’s No. 1 leading rebounder amongst community colleges to 16 boards. He also finished with 16 points.
Sophomore guard Marcus Romain continued to display his leadership and was a key factor in the victory finishing with 19 points, two assists and two blocks.
“(The win) gives us that extra boost we needed,” Romain said. “We’ll be more than ready to go on Friday.”
Huskies sophomore forward Marquis Salmon finished with a double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds). Richard Bivens finished with 10 points, five blocks and a rim-rocking baseline dunk that put the exclamation point on the game bringing the crowd to their feet in the last three minutes of the game.
Despite being 1-2 in conference, Mosley knows ELAC is the team to beat, as the Huskies are the defending SCC champions.
“We have to learn to be ready to come play every night,” Mosley said. “We’re not the old (ELAC) team where we’re not expected to win. Everybody is bringing their ‘A’ game, so we got to be prepared every night.”
ELAC, 9-8 overall, 1-2 in SCC North Division play, will play away at Los Angeles Trade Technical College (3-14, 0-3 SCC) Jan 16 at 7 p.m. in hopes of securing back-to-back wins.
“That’s going to be an uphill battle. That’s the way we have to look at it,” Mosley said. “I don’t think our confidence is up or down, we just have to play. When we play, we’re fine.”