Basketball hits halfway point
From now until the end of the season, teams will be vying for playoff positions. Four teams from each division qualify for the NWAACC Basketball Championships being held March 5-8 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, WA. At the halfway point, only three teams remain undefeated in league play. On the womenís side, Columbia Basin women are 7-0 in the East and 18-0 overall while Lower Columbia remains unbeaten at 8-0 in the West. Tacoma is the only remaining undefeated team on the menís side. The Titans are 8-0 in the West with a two game lead over second place Pierce. Tacoma also has the best overall menís record at 15-2.
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Bellevue and Skagit Valley are tied for the top spot at 7-1. If the season were to end today, Bellevue would be the first seed from the North, having beaten Skagit Valley 80-63 on January 17th. Tied for the third place spot are Everett and Whatcom. Whatcom beat the Trojans 83-62 in their league meetings, so the Orcas would be the third seed, and Everett the fourth seed into the NWAACC tournament.
On the outside looking in two games back is Edmonds. The Tritons have some ground to make up in their final eight games. Unfortunately, each of their four losses came against the four teams in front of them on the standings. One game behind Edmonds (4-4, 8-8) and three games back of a playoff spot is Seattle (3-5, 4-12). Behind Seattle are Peninsula (2-6, 5-12), Shoreline (1-7, 5-11) and Olympic (0-8, 3-13).
Columbia Basin continues to be impressive on their way to an 18-0 record, 7-0 in league. Perhaps even more impressive is that the top ranked Hawks are in one of the tougher divisions in the NWAACC. One game behind the Hawks is fourth-ranked Spokane (6-1, 16-3) and three games behind are third-ranked Walla Walla (4-3, 13-5) and tenth ranked Yakima Valley (4-3, 13-6).
Blue Mountain (3-4, 11-8) is on the bubble one game back of Walla Walla and Yakima Valley with each of their four losses at the hands of the teams ahead of them in the standings. Behind the Timberwolves are Big Bend (2-5, 9-10), Treasure Valley (1-6, 4-13) and Wenatchee Valley (1-6, 8-11).
Lower Columbia (7-0, 13-4) leads the way in the West. The Red Devils are one-game ahead of Highline (7-1, 11-7) and three games ahead of Clark (5-3, 7-9) and Pierce (5-3, 7-9). Tacoma (5-3, 7-9) is a game back of a playoff spot. The Titans are followed by Centralia (3-5, 3-12), Grays Harbor (2-6, 3-12) and Green River (2-6, 4-10).
South Puget Sound forfeited the remainder of the season after their first two league contests. So teams hoping to stage a late season rally, really only have seven games to make up ground as opposed to eight.
Clackamas (6-1, 16-2) has been impressive through the first half of league play. With the exception of an 81-74 loss to SW Oregon, the Cougars been winning by an average of 24 points. Behind Clackamas is a three-way tie for second between Lane (5-2, 15-4), SW Oregon (5-2, 15-4) and Umpqua (5-2, 14-5). In the first half, Umpqua defeated SW Oregon; SW Oregon defeated Lane and Lane defeated Umpqua.
In fifth place two games behind is Linn-Benton (3-4, 5-12). Behind the Roadrunners are Chemeketa (2-5, 9-9) and Mt Hood (2-5, 6-13). Portland (0-7, 4-14) will look to get their first-league win in the second half of the season.
Peninsula (7-1, 12-5) and Skagit Valley (7-1, 9-8) are tied atop the North at the halfway point. Peninsulaís only loss in league was a fourteen point loss to Skagit Valley. That would make the Cardinals the first seed from the North and Peninsula the second seed going into the NWAACC tournament. In the third spot is Bellevue (6-2, 11-6). The Bulldogs managed to hand Skagit Valley their only loss thus far in a 70-67 win January 17th. Whatcom (5-3, 13-4) is in the fourth spot. Behind WCC is last yearís division champions Shoreline (4-4, 11-7), followed by Seattle (3-5, 4-12), Edmonds (2-6, 4-12), Everett (2-6, 2-13) and Olympic (0-8, 1-14).
Big Bend (6-1, 14-4) is leading Spokane (5-2, 13-6) for the top spot in the East. The Vikings single loss was to Spokane, a 95-72 trouncing at Spokane in Big Bendís first league game. Since that time, the Vikings have won six straight. Spokane has suffered losses to Yakima Valley and Columbia Basin.
Wenatchee Valley (4-3, 10-7) has been turning some heads thus far after a few seasons towards the bottom of the standings. The Knights sit tied for third with Yakima Valley (4-3, 11-7). If the season ended now, WVC would be the third seed into the tournament as they beat Yakima Valley 61-59.
Three teams are on the bubble only one game behind YVCC and WVC. Blue Mountain (3-4, 4-13), Columbia Basin (3-4, 6-12) and Walla Walla (3-4, 10-8) all have a good chance of a late season surge to claim a spot of the NWAACC tournament. Treasure Valley (0-7, 4-12) currently brings up the final spot in the East.
The number one ranked Tacoma Titans (8-0, 15-2) are in clear control of the West. With the best record in the West and the NWAACC, Tacoma will want to continue their winning ways on the way to possibly a second-consecutive Western region championship. Two games behind in second is Pierce (6-2, 13-5). In third is Highline (5-3, 12-5). In a three-way tie for the fourth and final playoff spot are Centralia (4-4, 7-9), Clark (4-4, 10-7), Green River (4-4, 9-7) and Lower Columbia (4-4, 11-6). South Puget Sound (1-7, 3-13) and Grays Harbor (0-8, 0-14) hold the final two spots in the West. Tacoma is averaging 83.25 ppg during league play which is fourth amongst all NWAACC teams. They are also fifth in average blocks per game with 3.88.
Chemeketa (6-1, 11-7) leads the way so far in the South. There is a three-way second play spot between Clackamas (5-2, 13-5), Lane (5-2, 10-8) and Linn-Benton (5-2, 8-9). Mt Hood (3-4, 10-8) is two games out of a playoff spot. The Saints are followed by Portland (2-5, 7-10), Umpqua (2-5, 6-14) and SW Oregon (0-7, 5-14).