Note From The Editor: The ELAC Men’s Basketball team came oh, so very close to winning their first State title in the history of the program, but unfortunately, they suffered through several painful“end-of-game” scenarios that prevented them from upsetting the #4 State ranked, Saddleback College “Gauchos” from Orange County. The big and costly “turnover” demon victimized the Huskies at the most critical time of the game— when last-minute possessions are always worth their weight in pure gold.
Our Game Perspective: This game was a“classic” game-long defensive battle as both teams had difficulty making strong, consistent, and overpowering offensive runs at each other, evidenced by the fact that the halftime score read ELAC 28 – Saddleback 25. The 2nd half presented a capacity crowd with the same competitiveness and style of play that the first half did. With very few lead changes in the 2nd half, ELAC managed to maintain its very narrow lead, until the final 2:56 of the contest when the Gauchos’ Dusty Baker drove the lane and hit a lay-up for a 46-45 lead. At that point Saddleback took just their third, but slim, game lead over the Huskies. The Gauchos increased it to 3 points on another lay-up by Baker with 1:10 left. On their next possession, the Huskies’ Marquis Salmon was fouled with 1:01 remaining and hit two big free throws, closing the gap to one point at 48-47.
The dramatic end to the game occurred when the final basket was scored with just 11.5 seconds remaining. Saddleback’s iron-man point guard, Maleke Haynes, (who played the entire 40 minutes), drove down the right side of the key and then dropped in a 3 foot lay-up off the glass, giving the Gauchos a 3 point led at 50-47. ELAC’s last shot at tying the game came with :08 seconds left and was a 3 pointer from deep in the corner taken by Te’Shon Burton, but it never drew iron. And then one of the strangest plays a spectator could ever see occurred. On the ensuing capture of the Huskies missed shot and the ball still “live,” Haynes nonchalantly heaved the ball 90 feet to his own basket, only to then see it bounce once on the floor, rise up and then squarely hit the backboard. The ball carromed straight into the Huskies grasp, who then called a time out with just .6 seconds left in the game. Needless to say, this play shocked the entire Gauchos team, Coaching staff, and fans. All were in disbelief and numb with silence. On the other hand, the Huskies with this unexpected reprieve, the“gift” of one final possession, and the hope of a“Hail-Mary” finish, inbounded the ball from deep in their backcourt. But in one last turnover, the pass was stolen near half-court, and the game ended. Final score- Saddleback 50 – ELAC 47. Leading scorers for the Huskies were: Marquis Salmon (15) Primitvo Gomez (8) and Te’shon Burton (8). For the Gauchos: 7-0 Center, Conor Cliffford dropped in (16) and 6-4 swingman, Andrew Bournes, added (14).
Our Final Note: We can factually say that the CCCAA’s Southern Cal. Division’s 13th ranked Huskies led the Gauchos for 95% of the game, played with an air of high confidence, and a “No Fear “ attitude. However, it was unfortunate that they couldn’t complete the fabled “wire-to-wire” upset win. The higher seeded Saddleback “Gauchos,” never surrendered their fighting game spirit and kept things close enough to make their final push to the finish line, winning by just a half-length, figuratively speaking. Congrats to Saddleback College Head Coach, Andy Ground on winning his second State CCCAA Title in the past 6 years and of course, his entire team and Coaching staff. Although the season ended with a loss, the brighter side of playing in the State Final for the first time, is only a welcome and strong indicator that the East L.A. College “Huskies” will be a force-to-be-reckoned-with in the foreseeable future. Huge Congrats! to Head Coach John Mosley, his Coaching Staff, the players, the training staff, and the team managers for their tireless efforts in making this a most memorable season that will go into College’s Record Books. Be on hand at the start of the 2015 season, when the Team’s Award Banner will be unveiled on the Awards Wall in the“E-Arena.”
Now, we encourage you to take a look at our photo gallery and watch the game in its entirety as well as our “Post-Game” interviews with 6-5/SO/F/Primitivo Gomez, 6-7/FR/F-C/Marquis Salmon, and Head Coach, John Mosley. Both players were selected to the CCCAA State Championship All-Tournament team for their outstanding play. Rico Cabrera, Sr./Editor, EastLASportsScene.Com
Credits: Photo Gallery/Mario Villegas, Volunteer, ELAC Sports Information Specialist.
Photo Gallery: Hover over photo and click once for an enhanced image.