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Columbia Basin Hawks win the 2008 NWAACC Women's Basketball Championship

Columbia Basin Hawks win 2008 NWAACC Women's Basketball Championship

In front of a vocal hometown crowd for Columbia Basin and a slightly more subdued group of Spokane fans, the Lady Hawks took on the Sasquatch in the 2008 NWAACC Women's Championship game.

The starting lineup for Spokane included point guard Ren Mallory, guard Eleaya Schuerch, guard/forward Liz Beardslee, Eastern region all-star guard Kelsey Stillar and forward Kellee Neal.

Eastern region MVP Nikki DePeel started for the hometown Hawks, after taking a hard hit to her nose yesterday against the Walla Walla Warriors. She was joined by guard Alexandria Allen, forward Lindsey Begaii, guard Karli Thomas and forward Brittany Cherry.

East first team all-star Brittany Cherry drew the first blood for the Hawks, while DePeel caused the first foul.

The Sasquatch's first points went to Kelsey Stillar who took the three from the top of the key. Kellee Neal followed it up with another three 10 seconds later at the same spot. The Hawks played the inside aggressively, forcing the Sasquatch to take their early shots - unsuccessfully - from the outside.

A series of traveling calls, thrown away balls, fouls and poor shooting resulted in a low scoring game and double bonus shots as the time wound down in the first half. Hawk Dora Brings Yellow took the final shot in the first half, missing and sending the teams into the locker room for halftime with a score of Spokane 22, Columbia River Basin 19.

Coming out of halftime, Hawk Nikki DePeel tied it up with the first score of the second half and Hawk Kellie Neal - who shot 100% from the line, the three and the inside for the first half and contributed 8 of Spokane's 22 points - was pulled out of the game one minute in for garnering her fourth personal foul.

A field goal shot from the Sasquatch rattled around the basket and dropped in, giving Spokane back the lead. It was short-lived, however, as DePeel was fouled on next her next successful drive to the basket. Quick scores from Lindsay Begaii and another from DePeel grew the lead to six.

The Hawks worked to keep the lead with a steal and a score by Rondelle Guthrie and a driving layup by Alexandria Allen. Spokane fought back with rebounds and jumpers from Ren Mallory, despite back to back traveling calls on Richelle Daily to bring it back within three with under ten minutes to play.

DePeel took control again of the game for the Hawks, scoring another six points, and the Hawks hustling defensive play gave them the chance to kill the clock while extending their lead. The Sasquatch found themselves down by 11 with under four minutes to play, having not scored a point for six minutes.

Ren Mallory broke the cold spell with a jumper in the paint to diminish the Hawk's lead to the single digits with 3:13 left in the game. That was as close as they would get, however, as the Hawks' Brittany Cherry responded with two of her own on a fading jumper and the Hawks continued to pull away with baskets from Begaii and successful foul shots from DePeel.

The Columbia Basin Hawks win the 2008 NWAACC Basketball Championships 49-37 and complete a successful season with a 28-3 record. Second place Spokane closed out their season 22-8.

Tournament MVP Nikki DePeel was the highest scorer of the game with 18 points for the Hawks. For the Sasquatch, Liz Beardslee had 9 while Mallory and Neal each had 8.

All-Tournament Team
First Team: Andrea Blodgett, YVCC; Kayla Bennett, NSCC; Mercedes Alexander, Lane; Kellee Neal, CCS; Brittany Cherry, CBC
Second Team: Amanda Atcheson, CENC; Kristina Schumacher, EVCC; Brittany Toone, WWCC; Liz Beardslee, CCS; Alexandria Allen, CBC
Most Valuable Player: Nikki DePeel, CBC
Most Inspirational Player: Ashlee Michelson, CCS

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