By MARIO VILLEGAS
MONTEREY PARK — A year ago, East Los Angeles College’s men’s basketball team was having a season for the ages.
The school history-making Huskies won their fifth consecutive conference championship and rolled to a 27-1 season record and the No. 2 ranking in the state.
ELAC followed it with victories over Saddleback and Allan Hancock in the Southern California regional playoffs to earn a spot in the state championship tournament at West Hills College in Lemoore.
The Huskies’ bags were packed and their vans were ready for the long ride to the Central Valley, where they would put their 25-game winning streak on the line versus Santa Rosa (23-7) in a matchup of the South’s No. 2 seed and the North’s No. 3.
However, their departure was put on hold and then canceled when the 2019-20 California Community College Athletic Association men’s and women’s state championships were postponed because of COVID-19 concerns.
It’s doubtful the Huskies found any solace in that it took a pandemic to end their memorable season. And while they were unable to cap it with a state championship, the Huskies’ impressive 29-1 season will be the focus of the upcoming Netflix TV documentary series “Last Chance U.”
The popular Emmy-winning series shifts to community college basketball after five seasons of football. “Last Chance U: Basketball” will be released in the U.S. at midnight March 10. All eight episodes will be released at once and will be available to stream globally on Netflix.
The series production crew spent the 2019-20 season with the Huskies to show an honest, gritty look inside the world of community college basketball. Viewers will follow ELAC in its high stakes chase to an unprecedented state championship over the course of the eight episodes.
Led by Coach John Mosley, a former Husky player himself, the team is made up of former Division I-recruits and powerhouse athletes hustling to prove themselves for a last chance to fulfill their dreams of playing at the next level. But the team is tested as the players battle adversity, inner demons and emotions on and off the court.
“It’s still kind of surreal that it’s about us,” said Mosley, who doesn’t know why his team was chosen to be the focus. “I think we were just a cold call. But it really is an honor that they chose us.”
He was hopeful that he would get to view the documentary before its March 10 premiere, having only seen the trailer Netflix recently released.
Mosley has been very successful during his eight seasons at ELAC. He has been voted the South Coast Conference North coach of the year five times and his teams have won six conference championships, and finished second twice. They’ve made the playoffs every season. Mosley guided the Huskies to the school’s only state championship game appearance in 2015.
Most of his players transfer to universities and the 2019-20 season was no exception, with nine moving up, the most ever during his tenure. Eight of the nine transfers are playing regularly. Six of them are playing at Division I schools, two at Division II schools and another at an NAIA program.
The list, however, doesn’t include Kealen Allen, the former L.A. City Section player of the year from Westchester High School. The freshman was one of the season’s most sought-after JC players as he averaged 18 points and nine rebounds per game as a freshman, and was named the SCC North player of the year. He is committed to USC.
Naturally, Mosley had concerns about how his players would deal with the added pressures appearing in a high-profile documentary would place on them.
“I’m really proud of the players for the way they handled themselves during all the filming,” he said. “They really embodied what our program is all about. They did a great job.”