The ultimate Cinderella: Portland's first title
Mens' championship: Portland 92, Pierce 86 [stats]
|The Portland Panthers are the only team in NWAACC history to go undefeated all-time at the tournament, winning the competition in their first trip to the post season.|
They might be the ultimate Cinderella story: two seasons ago, the Portland Panthers were the doormat of the NWAACC. Last season, first-year head coach Tony Broadus put together a team at the last minute, and nearly managed to make the post-season tournament. Now, the Panthers are at the top of them all, champions of the league for the first time in school history.
The Panthers came out of the gates red-hot and with one goal in mind: blow the doors off of Pierce to start the game. And a few minutes in, that approach was obviously working. Angelo Tupper nailed a three pointer with 13 minutes to play in the first half, and Portland had their biggest lead at 21-9. Three minutes later, Warren Edmondson hit a trey of his own to give Portland a 13-point edge at the midway point of the first half, but another bucket from Edmondson at the 9:19 mark would be the Panthers' last score for more than four minutes.
Pierce took full advantage, going on a huge run to tie the game at 30, and take a lead a few moments later on a bucket from David Jeffries. The Raiders got up by as many as five, but Portland closed the first half on a 12-2 run, taking a 44-39 lead into the break.
The Raiders made themselves heard in the first few minutes of the second period, streaking back to within a point at 48-47 on a three pointer from Chris Parker. Edmondson responded with a three pointer of his own, and moments later, CJ Easterling collected an offensive board and scored to give the Panthers a six-point advantage once again.
Portland, thanks to another bucket from Easterling, was up by seven points with five minutes to go, but Pierce made a run yet again, scoring eight in a row and sneaking within 70-69. They got within a point at 72-71 on a pair of free throws from Paul Loranger, but the Raiders could get no closer. The Panthers connected on 10 of 12 free throw attempts in the last two minutes to ice the game, solidifying the first NWAACC title in program history.
Loranger led Pierce in scoring, finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Josh Turner had 23 points to lead all scores, and was selected as the tournament MVP following the victory.
MVP: Josh Turner - Portland
Joseph Stroud - Highline
Payton Pervier - Edmonds
Chris Parker - Pierce
Warren Edmondson - Portland
Gary Jacobs - Pierce
Bryce White - Chemeketa
Chris Willis - Treasure Valley
Elijah Smith - Skagit Valley
Sean Price - Clark
Malik Barnes - Skagit Valley
Art Fiero Most Inspirational:
Carl Appleton - Portland