Jan 31, 2012

Clackamas women lead injury-ridden NWAACC

NWAACC Women's Basketball
The story of the last few weeks has been injuries. Big Bend's Alli Neilson went down for three games and most of a fourth, and they've lost four straight pending her return on February 1st. Clackamas has lost their starting forward Lindsay Kanalz to a broken hand and sixth-man Alex Howe to knee injury. Columbia Basin lost second leading scorer Andrea Bland to a knee injury during practice. What remains to be seen is which teams will rise to the challenge and which teams will fall away.  Here's how the league looks after one month of region play: Coaches rankings are in italics under each team's record, and will be updated when the rankings come out on February 1st.
1. Clackamas (17-2, 6-1 South)
 #2 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 1, No. 2 Coaches

The last few weeks have been rough for Clackamas. They've lost two key players in  starting forward Lindsay Kanalz (broken hand) and sixth-man Alex Howe (knee), but have only lost one game, a 71-68 heart-breaker (box) on the road to a very sharp Lane team. If Clackamas shoots even decent, that game is a W, but as it is, Clackamas has stepped up to the plate and won all but two games this season, something that is true for only two squads. As always, Clackamas leads in points, assists, and steals. What they lack in is depth: they have only eight remaining players with which to finish the season.


2. Skagit Valley (13-5, 8-0 North)
#7 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 8, UR Coaches

Skagit Valley has reeled off an impressive 10 consecutive wins, including eight conference wins in a row. They haven't lost since falling to Lane on December 18th. Given, the north isn't particularly strong, but Skagit Valley does have a good looking 75-67 win at Bellevue, and hasn't stumbled against any of the weaker teams in their division. The battle for the crown just may take place on February 8th when a well rested Bellevue team travels to Skagit Valley, who has improved their scoring average considerably and now sit at 4th in the league with just over 74.5 points per game.


3. Yakima Valley(15-4, 5-1 East)
#4 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 5, No. 5 Coaches

After the loss of their leading scorer, it was difficult to believe that Yakima Valley was still a team to be feared. Now that fear has been abolished. Yakima Valley finally gave the mighty Columbia Basin a loss in their region, and a 20 point loss on their home floor at that. While the 81-61 victory may not prove that YVCC is back for good, it definitely serves as a wake up call that they aren't to be taken lightly.


4. Columbia Basin (17-2, 5-1 East)
#1 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 1, No. 1 Coaches

Everything seemed peachy for Columbia Basin, a team that had been embarrassing opponents since November, winning their first 12 and 15 of their first 16 games. Then guard  Andrea Bland  went down with an injury to her knee on January 12th. Since then, Columbia Basin has stumbled through their four games, squeezing past a marginal Blue Mountain team before being crushed by Yakima Valley at home. For the time being, the Hawks will have to learn to play without Bland, who hasn't played since the injury she picked up during practice.


5. Walla Walla (14-4, 5-1 East)
#3 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 4, No. 4 Coaches

Seeing as their only two losses since late November are Clark (14-3, 7-0 North) and Columbia Basin, it's a bit misleading that they moved down in this week's rankings. The only reason is that there's not much room at the top. Walla Walla needs a statement game, a win that nobody expected them to get. So far this season,  they've only beaten the teams that they were supposed to and fallen to the teams that were better than them. Perhaps two chances at such a statement game are fast approaching with games at home against Yakima Valley and on the road at Columbia Basin. Walla Walla has continued their torrid, league-leading 3 point shooting at 40%.


6. Bellevue (15-4 7-1 North)
#9 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. UR, No. 8 Coaches

Bellevue has won six games in a row following their January 11th 75-67 loss at home to Skagit Valley. Perhaps the most impressive thing about Bellevue statistically is that they shoot a very decent 42% from the field despite a dismal 3 point percentage. Adding their weak division and their average stats, Bellevue should do well until the competition picks up in the NWAACC tournament. A lot of minds could be changed if Bellevue can knock off Skagit Valley on February 8th, a game that may or may not decide the region champion.


7. Lane (15-4, 5-1 South)
#5 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 7, UR Coaches

If you throw out Lane's 67-57 loss at home to Chemeketa, Lane's regular season and late preseason have been very impressive. They are the only team since Yakima Valley to defeat Clackamas, winning a 71-68 thriller (box) at home on January 21st. Lane is one of the three Southern teams that lead the NWAACC in scoring with 75 points per game, Lane is also one of the league's top rebounding teams. Lane also continues lead the league in blocks with 4.58 per game, up from 4.25 two weeks ago.


8. Clark (14-3, 7-0 West)
#6 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. UR, No. UR Coaches

It's amazing how long it takes team that is undefeated in their region to get noticed. That says something about the proficiency of the western region, which is displayed when their best team has been beaten badly in meetings with Columbia Basin, Walla Walla and Lane early in the season. However, those must have been on the team's "down" nights, as they also have impressive victories over Walla Walla and Yakima Valley as well as their smooth sailing through the western region opposition.


Teams moving up: Skagit Valley, Yakima Valley
Teams added: Bellevue, Clark
Teams moving down: Columbia Basin, Walla Walla
Teams dropped: Big Bend, Chemeketa

Jan 16, 2012

Bellevue takes shot at NWAACC top spot

NWAACC Men's Basketball
There were only three losses between the eight teams ranked in the top eight, but those three losses were big ones. The #1 team got knocked off by the #7 team, #4 fell to #5, and #5 fell big to an unranked team. Despite the small number of losses and no new teams gracing the JOWARD Power Rankings, the order of things has been shaken up quite a bit, with Clark being the only team to retain their previous ranking. Coaches rankings are in italics under each team's record, and will be updated when they are made available.


1. Bellevue (13-0, 3-0 North)
#1 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 2, No. 1 Coaches 

While Bellevue's back to back defeats of Clackamas are beginning to fade in significance, their early season 83-78 defeat of Whatcom is beginning to gain importance. And while critics might say that Bellevue hasn't seen many high ranking opponents so far this season, they have still managed to stay unbeaten. They will be further tested as the regular season progresses, as the North is shaping up to be one of the toughest divisions in the NWAACC. Bellevue's efficiency will be their greatest asset, as four of the six teams that lead the NWAACC in scoring are from the North. Bellevue continues to lead the league in field goal percentage at a solid 50%, and is third in 3pt percentage at 40%.


2. Whatcom (12-2, 4-0 North)
#4 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 7, No. 7 Coaches

Whatcom had just barely broken into the rankings two weeks ago. Since then, they've had two meager victories over pitiful Northern opponents Edmonds (1-10) and Everett (3-10). That was when Whatcom kicked things into high gear. They marched in to #1 Peninsula's gym, and marched out with a thrilling 74-71 victory (box), marking the first time since February 2010 that Peninsula had lost at home. Just three days later, Whatcom proved that scoring wasn't an issue either when they put up 120 points on Shoreline behind Dereck Dickerson's 39 points.


3. Clark (14-1, 4-0 West)
#2 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 3, No. 3 Coaches

Clark's numbers have dropped slightly since their lone loss to Snow College on December 30th. However,  it's more likely that Clark has settled into a rhythm than they're backtracking. They've won their first four meetings in region play, and have already defeated Tacoma during the preseason, a team that is sure to challenge them as the regular season continues. Clark has dispatched every team from their division that they have faced, defeating Tacoma, Lower Columbia, and Green River, who are #2, #3, and #5 respectively in the West.


4. Peninsula (14-2, 4-1 North)
#3 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 1, No. 2 Coaches

Coming into the season as both the defending champs and arguably the NWAACC's most talented squad, Peninsula has fallen on a bit of a rough patch. They dropped a game to #7 Whatcom on their home floor, and went back out a few nights later only to barely escape with a 79-77 victory over a dreadful 1-10 Edmonds team. And that was after the "best practice of the year," according to head coach Lance Von Vogt, who also said over twitter that things were "back on track" after the win on the road at Edmonds.  We'll have to wait and see if the league's front runner is back to their old, dominant selves.


5. Tacoma (12-3, 4-0 West)
#5 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 6, No. 6 Coaches

Given that Tacoma has started out the regular season 4-0 and that their only two losses in the last 13 games have been to #1 Peninsula and #3 Clark, the fact that they now have point guard Josh Lord back in the lineup can only spell good things for the Titans. Tacoma's star guard Mark McLaughlin has continued to improve, now leading the league with 28.47 points per game, and is also averaging over seven rebounds and three assists per contest.


6. Chemeketa (11-4, 4-0 South)
#9 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 8, No. 5 Coaches

Chemeketa is an example of a team that runs a lot, but actually plays some defense. Of the two teams that average over 100 points, they are the much more efficient squad. They shoot a higher percentage and commit far fewer turnovers. One of three teams from the South to start off the regular season 3-0, Chemeketa has the best overall game. Wherever they lack, they make up for it in pure scoring, putting up 103 points per game, which is 13 points better than Whatcom, the next team back. Chemeketa's biggest hurdle seems to be playing on the road, where they've had some close scrapes. They nearly lost their lead at Clackamas, but finished with a 100-88 overtime victory, and were nearly caught off guard again when they faced Lane, but escaped with a 95-92 win.


7. Big Bend (12-2, 2-1 East)
#6 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 5, No. 4 (tie) Coaches

Big Bend has been putting together an impressive season. They began by winning 11 of their first 12 games, including a stunning 80-77 victory over then #1 Spokane to hand them their first loss. Since then, Big Bend put a beat down on Spokane, flattening the Sasquatch 101-84 (box). After that, things didn't look quite as good. In a game that doesn't quite make sense, Big Bend fell 94-76 to unranked Yakima Valley, throwing a wrench into their strong season so far. The East is a whole new breed of mess at this point, as there are six teams tied at 2-1 in region play, including the 3-11 Treasure Valley Chuckars. In the likely event that the loss was a fluke, Big Bend should ride their solid across-the-board numbers to a region championship.


8. Spokane (13-3, 2-1 East)
#7 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 4, No. 4 (tie) Coaches

For a team that started off by winning their first 11 games, Spokane has fallen a long way. A pair of losses to Big Bend have made it clear that the Sasquatch definitely aren't the dominant team in the East that they appeared to be during the preseason. Spokane does have a few categories to note: they lead the NWAACC in three pointers made, but also lead in attempts by a decent margin, while only shooting 34% from beyond the arc. Something they do excel in is free throw shooting. They are tied with Peninsula at 74% for the best in the league. 


Teams moving up: Bellevue, Whatcom, Tacoma, Chemeketa
Teams moving down: Peninsula, Spokane, Big Bend

Jan 15, 2012

Clackamas women regain No. 1 ranking

NWAACC Women's Basketball
Things always tend to shake up when region play begins, and these last two weeks were no different. The dominant teams from the Southern and Eastern regions now face off against one another, and the weaker teams from the West and North face slightly easier competition than during the tough preseason. The Western and Northern regions include seven of the NWAACC's eight teams with three wins or less, and boast only eight teams with winning records. Here's how the league looks after two weeks of region play: Coaches rankings are in italics under each team's record, and will be updated when the rankings come out on January 18th.
1. Clackamas (14-1, 3-0 South)
 #2 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 2, No. 2 Coaches

Ever since the crushing 72-53 loss to Yakima Valley in a sloppy, 32 turnover contest, Clackamas has reeled off three good wins in a row. The 83-50 victory over SW Oregon saw the return of wing Ashleigh Anderson, which should add further depth to a Clackamas team that already has been as deep as any team in the NWAACC thus far. Even more encouraging was center Jordin Feldman's 14 point performance against Chemeketa, showing that Clackamas is building more of an inside presence to go along with their already stellar 3pt shooters, who lead the league in 3 pointers made and attempted. Clackamas continues to lead in average points (78.43), assists (18.07) and steals (17.07).


2. Columbia Basin (15-1, 3-0 East)
#1 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 1, No. 1 Coaches

The only thing that bumped CBC down to #2 was the fact that one of their three wins was over Treasure Valley, a team that is 2-12 on the year. Yes they got the win, but that game was a cakewalk: only one player had over 25 minutes for Columbia Basin in the 69-52 rout. The Hawks' other two wins were decent, but until they take on one of the heavyweights, they'll have a hard time passing Clackamas until much later in the season when strength of schedule balances itself out. CBCC continues to hide in the middle of the stat books. They have yet to lead the league in any statistical category except one: wins.


3. Big Bend (13-3, 3-0 East)
#6 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 8, No. 7 Coaches

All of the sudden, Big Bend has jumped from one of the mediocre teams to one of the teams to beat. They're one of just two teams in the strong NWAACC East to be undefeated in their region, and have piled up an impressive record. Their biggest win of the season so far was a 65-63 defeat of Yakima Valley on the road, proving that they're definitely for real, despite having a soft preseason. It still remains to be seen whether Big Bend can keep this up, though. The East will be a battle to the finish with four teams boasting 11 wins or more.


4. Walla Walla (11-4, 2-1 East)
#4 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 5, No. 3 Coaches

The Warrior's first three regional games have been a mixed bag of competition. Walla Walla has a nine point loss at home to #1 Columbia Basin, a narrow, 61-60 victory on the road over #6 Blue Mountain, and a 75-28 pummeling of a dismal Treasure Valley team that may go 0-14 in the powerful East. So far, no surprises. Walla Walla is sitting right where they should be: playing decent against the best teams, beating the teams in the middle of the road, and absolutely mopping up against the bottom of the barrel.


5. Yakima Valley (12-4, 2-1 East)
#5 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 4, No. 4 Coaches

Defending NWAACC Champion Yakima Valley was off to a decent start, despite a few hiccups and some consistency issues. That was, until their leading scorer, Brandi Henton, went down with an ACL injury on December 18th at the Clackamas Crossover in Oregon City, Ore. Last week, doctors determined that Henton would be out for the remainder of the season, providing a sizable setback for the Yaks to bypass. Henton will remain a part of the team, and they might need her support after such a loss.


6. Chemeketa (10-4 2-1 South)
#3 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. UR, No. UR Coaches

There are three teams in the NWAACC South tied at 2-1 in region play. Chemeketa is one, and defeated both #3 Lane and unfairly unranked Umpqua. Their only loss so far in the South is to #1 Clackamas, and that was a close game on the road. Of the three losses remaining on Chemeketa's schedule, two of them are to Columbia Basin, and one of the losses was in overtime. The Storm are third in 3pt percentage, blocks, and average points, and are second in assists, led by Janelle Weiss, who is one of only three players to average at least 15 points and 4 assists per game.


7. Lane (12-4, 2-1 South)
#9 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 3, No. 7 Coaches

Lane has winning streaks of five, four, and three. Their losses aren't too much to feel bad about, as they're to #2 Columbia Basin, #1 Clackamas, and a Bellevue team that went their first eight games without a loss. But that's only three of the four. The last was a 67-57 loss to then unranked Chemeketa at home, a feat that hadn't happened for years until Clackamas broke college basketball's longest home winning streak at 83 last season. Lane continues to score well in the fast-paced South, averaging 73.7 points per game, and leads the league in blocks with 4.25 per contest.


8. Skagit Valley (9-5, 4-0 North)
#10 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. UR, No. UR Coaches

Especially for a team that started out 1-4, Skagit Valley has come an awfully long way. Since their horrendous start, Skagit Valley has won eight of nine, including a victory over Bellevue and an 82-71 win over Big Bend. With the preseason out of the way, the defending champions from the North should cruise to a second region title unless the rest of the region wakes up all of the sudden. Skagit Valley's most notable statistic is steals, where they are second in the league with nearly sixteen and a half steals per game.


Teams moving up: Clackamas, Big Bend, Walla Walla
Teams added: Chemeketa, Skagit Valley
Teams moving down: Columbia Basin, Yakima Valley, Lane
Teams dropped: Bellevue, Blue Mountain

Jan 4, 2012

Columbia Basin No. 1 in Power Rankings

NWAACC Women's Basketball
The last three weeks saw the last of the undefeated teams in the NWAACC, and the teams have begun to split themselves into three groups. Clackamas and Columbia Basin are off ahead of everyone else, Lane, Yakima Valley, and Walla Walla sit on a middle tier, and Blue Mountain, Bellevue, and Big Bend round out this week's JOWARD Power Rankings top eight. Coaches rankings are in italics next to each team's record.
1. Columbia Basin (12-1) - #1 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 5, No. 4 Coaches

The Hawk's one loss isn't too much to worry about: it was to NJCAA Champion North Idaho, and it was relatively close compared to many of North Idaho's other bouts in the NWAACC. Columbia Basin still doesn't have the most impressive schedule or the flashiest stats, but they've still managed to clean up lesser opponents without much of a slip up so far. However middle-of-the-road their numbers may be, they're still 12-1. Whether they've got what it takes will be seen once region play begins, as they have four of the eight ranked teams in their region.
2. Clackamas (11-1) - #2 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 1, No. 1 Coaches

Clackamas was running away from opponents before they tripped and fell flat on their faces against Yakima Valley on December 18th in the final of their own NWAACC crossover tournament. The 72-53 rout came with 32 turnovers, something that has been a problem of theirs, averaging nearly 23.5 turnovers per contest. They normally make up for such a stat with takeaways of their own, leading the NWAACC in points, assists, and steals. This time they just didn't get away with it.

3. Lane (10-3) - #7 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 6, No. 5 Coaches

Of the teams tied at 10-3, Lane has been the most consistent. Their wins aren't all that impressive, but their losses are to #1 Columbia Basin and #2 Clackamas, as well as the aforementioned North Idaho. Lane may be the most well rounded team in the NWAACC, even if they don't have the best record. Lane is 3rd in the NWAACC with 75.77 ppg, leads the league in blocks, and is among the leaders in steals.


4. Yakima Valley (10-3) #4 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 4, No. 6 Coaches 

YVCC's trouble still seems to be consistency. On one hand, they handed then No. 1 and undefeated Clackamas their first loss in a 72-53 blowout. But on the other hand, they've also coughed up games to unranked Linn-Benton and unranked Clark. However, things may be turning around, as the Yaks have two wins of over 40 points, and four wins of 16 or more since their back to back losses in early December. Things may be looking up once the NWAACC's leading scorer, Brandi Henton, returns from injury.


5. Walla Walla (9-3) #3 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 3, No. 2 Coaches

Of all the teams to play North Idaho College, the Warriors have done the best job. Still losing 71-65, Walla Walla fell by only 6 points, the closest margin for any NWAACC team. If Walla Walla's only other loss was to #4 Yakima Valley, then they'd most likely be ranked much higher than they are. That isn't quite the case, as Walla Walla fell in a puzzling game to Clark in which the NWAACC's second highest scoring team couldn't muster 60 points in the 70-59 loss to an unranked team for the first time this season. 

6. Blue Mountain (8-3) #9 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 7, No. 8 Coaches

The Timberwolves have been teetering on the edge of success all season. That is, until now. They finally announced their coming out party in an 86-66 trouncing of then No. 2 Bellevue. Blue Mountain continues to shoot extremely well from the field, and leads the NWAACC in free-throw percentage. However good their shooting is, they still lack a strong inside presence, as their rebounding is dreadful, and they have only five blocks all season long.


7. Bellevue (8-3) #5 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 2, No. 3 Coaches

Once a team that sat nearly atop the rankings, Bellevue has clearly fallen from grace. All went well until a forfeit with Spokane, and since then the Bulldogs have lost two of four, their stumbling seemingly culminating in the dreadful blowout at the hands of the Blue Mountain Timberwolves on December 30th. Only time will tell whether Bellevue can halt their skid down the power rankings.


8. Big Bend (10-3) Unranked Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 8, No. 7 Coaches

One would think that the 68-63 victory over then #2 Bellevue would put Big Bend a lot higher on the list, but then you have to consider that two of their losses were to teams at .500 in Whatcom and Skagit Valley. As for much of the rest of Big Bend's schedule, it's dismal. The rubber will really meet the road when region play begins, as Big Bend's Eastern Region is shaping up to be a tough place to play this season.

Teams moving up: Columbia Basin, Blue Mountain, Lane
Teams moving down: Bellevue, Walla Walla, Clackamas

Peninsula claims top spot in Power Rankings

NWAACC Men's Basketball
A few weeks removed from our first set of power rankings, we've had a lot of chances to see the top ranked teams in action. The NWAACC crossover tournaments December 16-18 provided a lot of inter-region play, and the Clackamas Holiday Invitational grouped together some of the top talent in the league in the days between Christmas and New Years. Let's take a look at how the teams stack up now. Coaches rankings are in italics next to each team's record.

1. Peninsula (10-1) - #2 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 2, No. 3 Coaches 

Main reasons for Peninsula's advancement? After falling to a darn good North Idaho team back in November, the Pirates have reeled off seven consecutive wins, including a 78-75 nail biter vs. #6 Tacoma and a 20 point blowout over Holiday Invitational host Clackamas in the tournament championship. Early in the season, it seemed that J.T. Terrell would be Peninsula's everything, and that all of their offense would run through him. Watching them play, it's apparent that he is only a part of their potent offense AND defense. Peninsula has at least three players that could go Division-I after this season, and maybe more.


2. Bellevue (10-0) - #1 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 4, No. 2 Coaches

It's always difficult to snub an undefeated team, especially after a convincing 88-50 win like Bellevue had over Walla Walla on December 18th and the victory over then #8 Whatcom on November 27th. However, with Bellevue there are a few suspect moments: they beat unranked Highline (1-8) by the skin of their teeth, and have played mediocre Clackamas and lowly S. Puget Sound twice each. That said, Bellevue is averaging 49% from the field and 39% from behind the arc, good for 2nd and 3rd place respectively in the league.


3. Clark (10-1) - #3 Coaches
Previous Ranking: Unranked, No. 7 Coaches

Clark was one of those teams that somehow fell through the cracks early in the season. Even boasting a 5-0 record and a crushing win over then #3 Clackamas, Clark couldn't muster anything higher than a #7 ranking in the coaches poll. This time around, they're taken much more seriously. Clark went off for five more victories, including a 81-71 victory over then #4 Tacoma, before falling to Snow College 77-59 in the championship of their own holiday tournament [bracket]. One of the best shooting teams in the NWAACC at 48%, one of only five teams to average 18+ assists, and second in the league in rebounding, Clark will be a force to reckon with as they enter region play.


4. Spokane (11-2) - #4 (tie) Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 1, No. 1 Coaches

That's right, Spokane is on a losing streak. After flashing out to an impressive 11-0 record and grabbing a win over powerhouse North Idaho college. Now that they've fallen to Big Bend in a close match up and then were blown out 76-56 in a rematch with North Idaho, their lack of outstanding stats is a little less easy to forgive. Their gaudy blocks were about the only thing that they stood out in, and that has lost a bit of its luster. One thing that can be said in the Sasquatch's credit: they've only allowed one team to score more than 80 points.


5. Big Bend (10-1) - #4 (tie) Coaches
Previous Ranking: Unranked, No. 8 Coaches

Big Bend has been somewhat of a surprise this season. Their one loss came against (wait for it) North Idaho, and it was they that knocked undefeated and #1 ranked Spokane from their pedestal in a 80-77 thriller. Big Bend is averaging 89.55 points per game, good for 4th in the NWAACC and leads the league in steals at a stunning 14.91 per game. Big Bend will need to show a few more wins over quality teams, as nearly all of theirs are against opponents with more losses than wins, but if the success keeps up, Big Bend could make some noise in this year's tournament.


6. Tacoma (8-3) - #6 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 6, No. 4 Coaches

Tacoma has fallen on some hard times recently in the injury department, forcing them to lean heavily on their star Mark McLaughlin in last week's Invitational at Clackamas. McLaughlin showed that he was worthy of the go-to position on the team, and stepped up to the plate, scoring 86 points in his three games at the tournament. However valiant McLaughlin's efforts, basketball really is a team effort, and that should change when Tacoma gets several of their key players back. "Once we get our point guard (Josh) Lord back next week from an injury we will make a run," said Tacoma Head Coach Carl Howell. "He is our heart and soul and has missed the last four games." And Howell is right. When they get those pieces back, Tacoma will be scary good.


7. Whatcom (8-2) #7 Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 7, No. 5 Coaches

Watcom's only two losses are to current #2 Bellevue and #4 Spokane. They're averaging 91.67 points per game and outside of a 2OT win over Highline and a 188-109 win over the NWAACC's highest scoring team, Shoreline (103 ppg), Watcom has only allowed a team to score over 80 points twice, holding their opponents to under 70 points a game. To compound that, they lead the NWAACC in shooting percentage at a red hot 51% and are third in rebounding.


8. Chemeketa (8-4) Unranked Coaches
Previous Ranking: No. 7, No. 5 Coaches

Since going 0-2 to start the season, Chemeketa has gone 8-2, but it's not their record that impresses. It's their ability to score. Now they may forget completely about defense from time to time, but they have a high of 153 points (vs. NW Elite) and score an average of 102.75 points per game. They're also second in the NWAACC in assists (18.42 apg). Now if they could just learn to slow down the other team...

Teams moving up: Peninsula, Bellevue, Clark (added), Big Bend (added), Chemeketa (added)
Teams moving down: Spokane, Yakima Valley (dropped), Walla Walla (dropped), Clackamas (dropped)