Championship Updates - Day 1
Toyota Center, Kennewick, Wash.
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Highline's bench carried the load down the stretch in the men's championship opener, outscoring the Wenatchee Valley Knights 25-9 as the Thunderbirds picked up a 67-57 win over one of the league's best defensive teams in the first round.
Sophomore forward Ben Tucakovic led the Thunderbirds in scoring with 15 points while Doug McDaniel finished with nine points and 11 rebounds in the win.
Both Aaron Ward and Brady Widner scored 15 for Wenatchee Valley, who made their first trip to the championship tournament since 2007 and will move to the consolation bracket for an 8 a.m. game on Sunday morning.
Things were close throughout the first half, but a cold stretch from Wenatchee Valley allowed Highline to go on a 7-0 run, grabbing a 16-9 lead late in the first 20 minutes. The Knights got within three points, but Highline scored in the final seconds to restore a five-point lead at the break.
Wenatchee came out of the locker rooms with a good stretch to start the second half, tying the game on a three pointer from Widner just minutes into the second period. The wheels never fully came off for Wenatchee, but Highline was slowly able to build a 12-point advantage with just over four minutes to play in the game.
Highline made eight consecutive free throws in the final two minutes to ice things, and secure a spot in the quarterfinals tomorrow at noon. Highline will play the winner of today's 10 a.m. game between Clackamas and Peninsula.
|Amnita Cole drives for the game-winner.|
A late runner from SW Oregon's Aminata Cole ended up being the difference, as Cole scored the final two points of her game-high 26 to sink the Bellevue Bulldogs 70-69 and send the Lakers to the quarterfinal round.
Cole also grabbed 20 rebounds in the win, which saw Bellevue storm out to a 30-17 lead with just over five minutes to play in the first half. But in the latter stages of the first half into the opening moments of the second, the Lakers went on a big rally to eventually tie the game at 41 on a pair of free throws from Cole.
Bellevue managed to nab a five-point lead with just over four minutes to play, but the damage had already been done -- SW Oregon was back in this thing. The Lakers went on a 9-4 run to tie things at 65 on another made bucket from Cole and again at 67 with just over a minute remaining.
But inside the final minute, it looked like Bellevue might have finally jumped on top for good. Bellevue sophomore guard Hunter Hopkins drove into the painted area and took contact at the rim, getting the shot to fall and drawing the whistle as well. Hopkins' free throw was off the mark, giving SW Oregon a new, but limited, lease on life.
Cole drew a foul the next time down the floor and hit one of two to get the Lakers within a point. The SW Oregon defense forced a turnover on the next possession, and with just over 11 seconds to play and the Lakers trailing by one, SW Oregon coach Mike Herbert called time out, with little doubt as to where the ball was headed for a final shot -- Cole.
Cole caught the ball near midcourt and took advantage of a little breathing room to drive right of the lane, gather herself and connect from the edge of the painted area to give the Lakers their first lead since the 11:39 mark of the first half.
Bellevue guard Mikayla Jones had a chance for a game winner of her own, but dribbled the ball out of bounds just before the final buzzer sounded. Jones finished just behind Cole in scoring, totaling 25 points and dishing four assists.
SW Oregon will play at noon on Sunday in the quarterfinals against the winner of the Walla Walla-Clark first round game. Bellevue moves to the consolation bracket and will play the loser of the Walla Walla-Clark game at 8 a.m.
The Peninsula Pirates got a game-high 29 points from Ryley Callaghan to upset the No. 1 seed from the south, defeating Clackamas 72-50 for a berth in the quarterfinal round.
The two teams kept things close for the first few minutes, but with Clackamas stalling on offense, Callaghan was busy taking over. The freshman guard scored 11 consecutive points for Peninsula, including a trio of three pointers, to help the Pirates to a 23-13 advantage 10 minutes into the contest.
At least in the first half, Clackamas wasn't about to go quietly. The Cougars struck right back, cutting the deficit to 24-19 with a quick 5-0 run and were within four points at the break after Vince Boumann collected his own miss and scored in the final seconds.
The start to the second half didn't go particularly well for the Southern Region champions. Peninsula started the half with a made shot from distance and went on a 23-7 run to jump on top 51-31 at the midway point of the second half.
Clackamas once again went on a 5-0 run, but couldn't sustain momentum and faded as the last few minutes ticked away. The Cougars move into the consolation bracket, and will tangle with the defensive-specialist Wenatchee Valley on Sunday morning at 8 a.m.
Peninsula moves on to face the Western Region runner up, Highline, tomorrow in the quarterfinals at noon.
Two games in, and the NWAC women's tournament might have already seen the biggest upset of the weekend. Clark watched a 19-point first-half lead evaporate in the final moments, but pieced together just enough magic to regain the advantage and knock off the Eastern Region's top seed in a 61-60 win over Walla Walla.
The Penguins went on a 20-4 run early in the first half, holding Walla Walla to just one point over a five-minute stretch to jump on top 25-8 before the halfway mark of the first period. Clark connected on seven consecutive shots during the run, forcing five consecutive misses from the Warriors.
Late in the first half, there was evidence of a little life from the Eastern Region champions. Walla Walla cut the deficit to 12 in the final moments, and were within single digits early in the second half after a three-pointer from Karli McHome.
Another three-pointer from Kennedy Corrigan pulled the Warriors within two points at 49-47 midway through the second half, bringing the Walla Walla fans to their feet.
Four minutes later, it wasn't just the fans who were celebrating. Courtney Davis connected from distance to give the Warriors a 55-54 lead -- their first advantage of the game. The teams traded the lead back and fourth for the next handful of possessions, but a steal and fast break bucket and a later three-pointer from Clark's Bryn Tennyson put the Penguins on top by four inside the final minute.
Even with the Penguins on top by four, Walla Walla still wasn't finished. Davis scored to cut the deficit to a pair, and the Warriors forced a jump ball and stole the resulting inbounds pass. Walla Walla dumped down low to Corrigan, who was fouled and put on the line for two pressure shots.
The first rattled out and the second went though, and even though Walla Walla was able to steal the ball and get two attempts off in the paint, neither scored.
Clark's defeat of Walla Walla is the first time the Eastern Region No. 1 seed has been upset in the first round of the tournament since Skagit Valley beat Spokane 57-56 in 1999.
UPDATE: One of our great readers has informed us that Walla Walla came in as the Eastern Region No. 1 seed and was upset in the first round in 2004.
Clark moves on to the quarterfinals and will face SW Oregon on Sunday at noon. Walla Walla will take on Bellevue on Sunday morning at 8 a.m.
For the better part of 40 minutes, Pierce managed to hold down the league's most prolific scorer and distributor, careful not to let up and allow the Columbia Basin sophomore to put the Hawks on his shoulders.
Jamez Lopez scored only 11 points, going an uncharacteristic 1-9 from three point range as the Columbia Basin Hawks fell to Pierce 85-79 in the first round of the men's championship bracket. Pierce moves on in their pursuit of a second-consecutive finals berth, and will play in the quarterfinals tomorrow afternoon.
Jamil Wilson-Jones led all scorers with 22 points in a near triple-double effort with nine rebounds and seven assists. Fellow Raider Keashawn Kelly sniffed a double-double, finishing with 18 points and nine boards in the win.
Time and again, the Raiders would muscle for a little breathing room, only to see Columbia Basin storm back to tie the game or take a brief lead.
Seven minutes in to the second half, it seemed the Hawks had finally found a rhythm as Lopez started to take over. First came an assist to Jordan King on a three-pointer to cut the deficit to four. Then came another assist, followed by a pair of made free throws. Lopez's assist on a Josh Reed bucket tied the score at 63 midway through the second half with the momentum on the Hawks side and Lopez beginning to heat up.
Columbia Basin will play the loser of Mt. Hood's game against Edmonds on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. Pierce will play the winner on Sunday at 2 p.m.
|Bre Dubois scores on the break.|
A late push in the latter stages of the second half, led by back-to-back buckets from Bre DuBois might just have been the final straw for Lane, who managed to inch past Skagit Valley and into the quarterfinals with a 68-61 win over the Cardinals on Saturday afternoon.
Jenika Anglim led all scorers with 19 points and was five of nine from beyond the arc, but didn't attempt a three-pointer in the final eight minutes and 23 seconds after tying the game at 48-all. Lane went on an 11-04 run -- including the pair of scores from DuBois -- to grab a seven point lead.
Early in the game, though, it looked like Lane might run away and hide. The Titans got off to a red-hot start, going on a 16-0 run to take a 21-5 lead midway through the first half. The lead reached 17 a few moments later, and though Skagit was able to cut the deficit to 13 points by halftime, the Titans entered the break with the game in firm command.
Then the Cardinals started the second half on a 16-4 run, racing back to within 44-43 after a three-pointer from Nikkie Froehlich. Anglim's three tied the score a few minutes later, but Lane was able to dig deep for a run of their own and connected on nine of their last ten free throw attempts.
Marikah Wright led Lane in scoring with 17 points, followed by 13 each from DuBois and Maddie Kiplinger. The Titans will take on the winner between Lower Columbia and Blue Mountain in the quarterfinal on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Skagit Valley will play the loser on Sunday morning at 10 a.m.
It's amazing what a few extra possessions can do. Edmonds out-boarded Mt. Hood 54-41, including a 20-13 offensive rebound edge and made good use of their extra shots en route to an 86-78 victory over the Saints in the first round of the NWAC championship tournament.
Edmonds sophomore Charlie Smith led all scorers with 23 points while Zach Pederson chipped in 19 points and a game-high 14 rebounds in the victory. Edmonds, the top-ranked team in the coaches poll entering the tournament, led wire-to-wire, scoring the first two points and eventually taking an eight point lead in the latter stages of the first half. Mt. Hood chipped away at the lead, but got no closer than four points the rest of the way and trailed by as many as 13 points before losing by eight.
Neither team shot particularly well, but it was a poor shooting first half for the Saints that ended up being their undoing. Mt. Hood picked things up on offense in the second half with 52 points, but couldn't manage to overcome the eight-point halftime deficit.
The victory for Edmonds sets up a second-round game with Pierce, who lost in the finals of last year's tournament, on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Mt. Hood, the fourth seed from the Southern Region, will move to the consolation bracket for a game with Columbia Basin on Sunday morning at 10 a.m.
Walla Walla became the first No. 1 seed to fall in the first round, and Saturday afternoon, Lower Columbia became the second. falling behind in the first half and dropping out of the championship bracket with an 85-82 loss to Blue Mountain.
The 'Wolves were led by a performance for the ages from Mar'Shay Moore, who finished with 37 points, just five off the NWAC record set last season of 42. Moore was one of just seven Blue Mountain players dressed for the game matched up against a full Red Devil squad which had battled their way to a Western Region title.
16 of Moore's points came in the first half, as the Red Devils built up a seven point lead midway through the first 20 minutes. But once Lower Columbia's lead reached seven with just under ten minutes remaining in the first half, it's as though a flip switched on for the Timberwolves.
Six minutes later, Moore cut the deficit to a single point from beyond the arc. A few minutes after that, the 'Wolves finally regained the lead on a three pointer from Kayla Reyna -- a lead they would hold on to for the remainder of the contest.
And it wasn't just a matter of made shots, the 'Wolves were simply outworking Lower Columbia in spite of their diminished roster. Late in the first half, Blue Mountain fought for a defensive rebound, missed a three and then battled for the offensive board. On the ensuing possession, Reyna hit another three-pointer to give Blue Mountain a 10-point lead.
Lower Columbia made a rally to cut the deficit to 1 in the opening minutes of the second half, but Blue Mountain never stopped advancing. With 6:31 to play, the Blue Mountain lead reached 71-56 on a bucket from Savannah Heugly as the Timberwolves assumed full control.
Or so it seemed. With 4:50 to play, guard Bailey Gregory picked up her fourth foul, opening a door for Lower Columbia to jump through.
Now, the Timberwolves seemingly couldn't get anything to work. Blue Mountain turned the ball over on five of their next six possessions and watched as their 13-point lead dwindled to five with still 1:47 to play.
Now, it was Lower Columbia's turn to dominate the boards. The Red Devils took three consecutive shots in the paint, with Sierra Richards finally getting the ball to fall and the whistle to blow. Richards connected on the freebie, drawing Lower Columbia within 82-78.
The Red Devils got within three points at 83-80, but Blue Mountain got a pair of free throws for a little extra breathing room before ending the game in perhaps the most poetic way: Moore blocked a buzzer beating three pointer that might -- just might -- have sent the game to overtime.
Blue Mountain moves on to a quarterfinal showdown with Lane on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.
Their title hopes dashed, Lower Columbia moves into the consolation bracket and will take on Skagit Valley on Sunday evening at 8 p.m.
It didn't take long for Bellevue's suffocating defense to take effect. Just ten minutes into the Bulldogs' first-round game with Umpqua, Bellevue had opened up a commanding 12-point lead, setting the stage for a comfortable 69-55 win over the Riverhawks to clinch a quarterfinal berth.
Bellevue didn't allow a Riverhawk field goal for nearly six minutes in the first half as they built a solid 22-10 lead on a three pointer from Dom Holub.
The Bulldogs ended the first half on an 8-0 run to take a 36-19 edge to the locker room at halftime, and continued their dominance on the other side of the break. At the 16 minute mark of the second half, a three-pointer from Dominique Jordan made it a 22-point advantage.
Umpqua went on an 8-1 run late in the second half, but was only able to cut a small piece off the deficit and got no closer than 14 points.
Brian Zehr led the Bulldogs with one of the best all-around performances through the first day of the men's tournament. Zehr finished with 14 points and 18 rebounds, a men's tournament high with three games left on the schedule.
The Bulldogs were led in scoring by Dom Holub, who finished with a game-high 16 points in the win for Bellevue, who will face the winner of the Clark - Treasure Valley game on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Umpqua will face the loser of the Clark - Treasure Valley game on Sunday evening at 8 p.m.
Longtime Columbia Basin coach Cheryl Holden sat and watched her Hawks win yet another first-round tournament game on Saturday afternoon, but this time it was from a completely different angle. Holden was in the stands, watching from far above the bench as Columbia Basin continued the post-Holden with a 62-49 win over Centralia.
Playing in front of a hearty home town audience, Columbia Basin shut down Centralia's offense and capitalized as Centralia sputtered, racing out to a 13-point lead with 5:51 to go in the first half. Centralia went the next four and a half minutes without a field goal, watching as Columbia Basin extended their lead to 40-20 before settling for a 17-point halftime lead.
Centralia cut the deficit down to nine points at the 8:25 mark of the second half, but Columbia Basin raced back to a 16-point lead before cruising to a 62-49 win.
Marissa Caballero led all scorers with 19 points for Columbia Basin in the win, which pits the Hawks against the winner of the Umpqua-Whatcom game on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Centralia, who led the Western Region for much of the season, will move into the consolation bracket to face the loser of the Umpqua-Whatcom game on Sunday evening at 8 p.m.
As the NWAC grows and expands, fewer and fewer old records are left standing. Another one -- this one lasting 45 years and only being tied once -- fell as Clark blew out Treasure Valley 74-30 in the first round, breaking the record for the largest margin of victory in a tournament game.
Clark originally set the record back in 1970 at 42, and it was tied by Clackamas in 2005.
But perhaps more impressive than the final margin was exactly how they got there. When Clackamas tied the record in 2005, they did so while scoring 93 points. Clark broke the record because they held Treasure Valley to just over 20% shooting from the field.
The final margin wasn't the only record-setter for Clark. They also set a record for the fewest points allowed (30, vs. 39 by Tacoma in 1975 and by Clark in 2009) and came one point away from resetting the 1975 record (held by Tacoma) of fewest points in one half.
The Chuckars only hit eight shots. Clark also forced Treasure Valley into 20 turnovers, compared to nine of their own, and walked away with 12 steals.
Only three Penguins scored in double figures, led by 13 points each from Evan Garrison and Bryan Berg. Orlando Vance had 10 points and five rebounds in the win, which puts Clark back into the quarterfinal round where they'll Bellevue on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Treasure Valley will play Umpqua on Sunday evening at 8 p.m.
By the time the second half rolled around, the Orcas were out of ideas: Whatcom simply didn't have an answer for Ashli Payne.
Payne, the two-time defending Southern Region MVP and a strong candidate for NWAC player of the year, torched the Orcas for 32 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals as the top-ranked Umpqua Riverhawks rolled past Whatcom 82-55 in the first round of the women's championship bracket.
It didn't take long at all for Payne to make her presence felt. She won the jump ball, and a few minutes in, hit a three-pointer to give Umpqua a 13-8 lead. Whatcom put together a rally to cut the deficit to 19-18 midway through the first quarter on a three-pointer from Kortney Grattic, but the second half was all Umpqua.
The Riverhawks led 34-25 at the break, and wasted no time in extending their lead to double digits. Five straight Upqua points gave the Riverhawks a 58-38 lead at the 11:10 mark of the second half, but they didn't stop there. Umpqua weathered a quick rally from Whatcom and went on a run of their own to jump on top by 25 points with under five minutes to play.
Umpqua dominated the boards, out rebounding Whatcom 52-37 and scoring 15 second chance points to the Orcas' two.
Behind Payne's game-high 32 were 15 points and five boards from Sawyer Kluge, and 12 points from Anna Mumm. The Orcas were led by 24 points from Grattic.
Whatcom moves to the consolation bracket and will take on Centralia on Sunday evening at 8 p.m. Umpqua moves on to a 2014 finals rematch with Columbia Basin on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.
8 p.m. Men -- Green River 69, Big Bend 67 [stats]
Giants beware, the Toyota Center is not a safe place. The Walla Walla and Lower Columbia women and the Clackamas men have already been unseated from their No. 1 spots. Now the Big Bend men have been added to the growing number of major upsets in the first round after falling behind and dropping a 69-67 loss to Green River.
A week ago, the Gators didn't even know whether they'd be in the tournament at all. They had to beat Lower Columbia in a play-in for the final berth from the Western Region, and will now enter the quarterfinals as the biggest Cinderella squad in the field.
Such a run isn't unheard of. SW Oregon won a play-in game in 2012 and upset No. 1 Clark in the first round, and now that Green River has pulled off the upset, they'll get to explore new territory: the Gators will take on the winner of the Lane - Everett game on Sunday evening at 6 p.m. for a chance to play in the semifinals.
Perhaps running on the simple thrill of having nothing to lose, the Gators jumped into the fray from the opening whistle and lept out to a 21-14 lead before the game reached the 10 minute mark. The lead reached 11 at the 13:44 mark of the second half, at which point it seemed the Eastern Region's No. 1 seed was destined for the rocks.
But the Runnin' Viks still had a little left in the tank. Big Bend went on a 10-0 run capped by a pair of free throws from DeAndrea Johnson to get within one point of the underdogs at 53-52 with just under 10 minutes to play.
Green River rebuilt their lead to seven points moments later, but in the final seconds Big Bend was still within striking distance. Post Shawn Spencer hit one of two free throws to draw the Vikings within a pair, and moments later had a shot roll off the rim that would have tied the game with a chance for a three-point play.
Spencer hit both free throws to tie things with 47 seconds left in the game, but as the Vikings ran a press on their next defensive possession, they forgot all about Bernard Sanders, who cut backdoor for an easy game-winning layup.
Green River's Glenn Brooks led all scorers with 25 points, also dishing nine assists and connecting on three of his four three-point attempts.
Donavin Wright led the Vikings in scoring with 14 points. Big Bend will play the loser of the Lane - Everett game on Sunday evening at 10 p.m.
8 p.m. Women -- Peninsula 81, Portland 60 [stats]
One was playing in their first-ever tournament game. The other was fighting for their quarterfinal berth in the 16-team tournament era.
And while Portland may not be pleased with the result -- though just being here is a big victory for the program -- it was Peninsula walking off the court all smiles after picking up an 81-60 first-round win at the Toyota Center for the first time in program history.
Peninsula took a big lead early on, jumping out to an 11-2 advantage in the first few minutes before the Panthers finally found their legs. Portland responded with a 12-2 run to take a brief lead at 14-13, but when Madison Pilster grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to take the lead back for Peninsula, it was for good.
Peninsula's Gabi Fenumiai and Portland's Diamond Bolden tied for game-high scoring honors with 22 points, but Fenumaiai 17 rebounds to boot.
Peninsula led by as many as 23 points before finally winning by 21, and qualifying for Sunday evening's 6 p.m. quarterfinal game against the winner of the Wenatchee Valley - Highline game.
Portland will face the loser of the Wenatchee - Highline contest at 10 p.m. on Sunday evening.
|Derek Brown Jr|
Lane wore down a path to the free throw line in the final first-round game of the men's championship bracket on Saturday evening, The Titans hit 29 of their 40 attempts and wiped out a tournament-best performance from Everett's Derek Brown Jr. to win 96-88 in overtime and advance to the quarterfinals on Sunday.
Brown Jr. finished with 38 points, nine higher than any other player in the men's bracket so far, in the loss.
The win is the first tournament victory for the Lane Titans since beating Peninsula 71-67 in the first round of the 2006 championship tournament.
Lane led by as many as 10 points on several occasions in the first half, and after Everett had cut the deficit to just five points with less than two minutes to play, the Titans scored the final seven points of the half to lead by 12 at the break.
The Titan lead reached 17 points on a steal and bucket from Duce Namazi in the opening moments of the second half, but Everett slowly chipped away at the deficit over the next six minutes.
At the 12 minute mark of the second half, Everett trailed by 12. Then the Trojans scored 16 unanswered points to grab a 67-63 lead on a three pointer from Brown Jr.
Lane jumped back on top by three on a trey from Mitch Franz, but Everett's Quadir Williams answered with a three of his own with 19 seconds remaining to tie the game at 77 and send the teams to overtime.
Lane dominated the first few minutes of the overtime, scoring the first 10 points to take an 87-77 lead. The Titans went up 12 points with 1:38 to play on a bucket from Duce Namazi, and cruised to the 96-88 win.
Everett moves to the consolation bracket to face former Eastern Region No. 1 seed Big Bend at 10 p.m. on Sunday evening.
Lane will play Green River at 6 p.m. on Sunday evening in the quarterfinals.
Highline took full advantage of Wenatchee Valley's mistakes in the late game on Saturday evening, coming up with 13 steals and pulling away in the final four minutes to win going away.
It was a tight contest for most of the game, which featured 10 lead changes and five ties in the first half alone. Wenatchee Valley led by five points on two occasions late in the first half, and held a four-point advantage at the break.
At the 12:11 mark of the second half, Wenatchee Valley still held a 55-53 lead on a basket from Jillian Jacobs, but things were about to go downhill -- fast.
Highline went back on top with a four point lead, and held a 61-60 edge with 4:28 to play. The Thunderbirds scored the next nine points, capped by a three from Allie Weathersby to grab a 10-point lead, and scored the final four points of the game to win by 12.
Weathersby led the Thunderbirds in scoring with 15 points. Wenatchee Valley's Darian Gasseling led all scorers with 17 points..
The Knights will play Portland on Sunday evening at 10 p.m. in the consolation bracket. Highline moves on to face the top seed from the Northern Region, Peninsula, on Sunday evening at 6 p.m.