Story & Photos by Mario Villegas
MONTEREY PARK – Another tournament, another championship trophy for the East Los Angeles College women’s basketball team.
The Huskies won their fourth tournament of the season Monday as they defeated San Jose Mission College, 89-73 in the finals of their own East Los Angeles College Huskies Classic.
In finishing nonconference play 15-1, the Huskies, who are ranked third in Southern California, established a school record for the best start by any ELAC basketball team – men’s or women’s.
“We don’t scare teams when we walk into the gym, but this team can play the game,” said Coach Bruce Turner, whose team is riding a nine-game winning streak.
Kyla Martin-Burnley, the tournament’s most valuable player, led them to victory Monday as the freshman guard from Etiwanda High School scored 22 points to go with six rebounds, five assists and four steals.
“She’s one of the hardest working players on our team and it shows as she just continues to improve every game,” Turner said.
Olivia Ochoa, who a week earlier was named the tournament’s top player at the City College of San Francisco Tournament, had another impressive performance as well. The sophomore guard from Roosevelt High poured in 24 points to go with nine rebounds (eight defensive), three assists and two steals and was named to the all-tournament team.
Sophomore forward Jocelyne Diaz was a force for the Huskies inside with 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Whittier High product also had two assists, a steal and blocked a shot.
The Huskies led the game right from the opening tipoff only briefly allowing Mission (11-8) to take a two-point lead with 7:13 left in the first half. ELAC responded by going on a 10-0 run before building up a 10-point lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Huskies lead grew to as many as 34 points at the midway point, before settling into the 16-point victory.
Mission’s Celina Pagan scored a game-high 27 points and was named to the all-tournament team. ELAC’s Ochoa and Mission’s Pagan were named to the all-tournament team along with Monica Friedl (College of the Canyons), Tiffany Gale (Los Angeles Trade Tech College) and Danielle Munson (Saddleback College).
ELAC defeated College of Marin, 60-51 in the first round and beat College of the Canyons, 68-47 in the second round. Martin-Burnley scored 23 points and Dynasti Shelby (Inglewood HS) added 10 points to lead the Huskies. Martin-Burnley also had 23 points in the Canyons’ game and Kristina Tatikian (Pasadena HS) added 12.
The Huskies now shift their attention to next week’s start of South Coast Conference play. ELAC plays Mt. San Antonio College, the state’s top-ranked team, in the conference opener Jan. 7 at Mt. SAC.