Dec 19, 2012

Dominant Lane women lead ladies rankings

NWAACC Women's Basketball

As the preseason has continued, several teams have emerged as dominant forerunners. Lane, Umpqua and Clackamas in the South are a combined 28-6, and Big Bend and Walla Walla are a combined 19-2. The Northern Region, by contrast, has six teams above .500, but no team better than 6-3. The Western Region is led by Centralia at 5-1, but there are only two teams including the Blazers from the West that have won more games than they've lost. Right now, the biggest questions are whether Umpqua can bounce back, if Centralia is really as good as their record indicates, and if anybody can stop Lane, who is 11-0 and has looked unbeatable so far. 

Be sure to check back in a week's time for Full Court Press (last week | this week), a bi-weekly roundup of NWAACC basketball action to fill in the gaps. Coaches rankings are in italics under each team's record, and will be posted when they are made available. 

1. Lane Titans
No. 1 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 1, No. 1 coaches

Lane's selection as the top ranked team was hardly even an afterthought. Even coming in to the season, it was obvious that they would be a force in the South, what with their returning talent and depth, but the extent of their success this season has been downright impressive. They lead or are in the top four or five in nearly every statistical category: first in points with 86.36, first in assists with 17.36, first in steals with 15.82, first in blocks with 4.64 and fourth in rebounding with 52.28. That stat line is next to unbelievable, but it helps to explain their 11-0 record, including wins over No. 7 Yakima Valley, No. 4 Clackamas, Bellevue and Skagit Valley. Oh, and the 115-36 [box] point victory over S. Puget Sound, the largest margin of victory in recent memory. 


2. Walla Walla
No. 1 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 4, No. 4 coaches

Ever since falling 95-91 to No. 3 Centralia on Nov. 17th, Walla Walla has been on a roll, winning their last nine contests. That run includes a good victory over No. 4 Clackamas [box] and a dominant win over Blue Mountain in the final of the Highline crossover. At the moment, it looks like Walla Walla owns the east. They're fifth in the NWAACC with 77 points per game, and tied for second in assists with 17 per contest. And one of the biggest credits to Walla Walla? They've played all their games against NWAACC competition. No JV squads, no alumni teams, and no All-Star throw-ins. 

3. Centralia
No. 1 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 7, No. 8 coaches

Because Centralia didn't take part in any of the crossover tournaments, ranking them could be somewhat of a challenge. However, of the five victories they do have, one was over No. 2 Walla Walla, and another over No. 7 Yakima Valley, who is also responsible for the one loss on Centralia's record. They're putting up just over 71 points per game, recording a very respectable 16 assists, and pulling down 52.33 rebounds a game, good for second in the league. From the looks of  things so far this preseason, Centralia will be playing in a relatively weak Western Region this year, as the Blazers are one of two teams in the region that has more wins than losses, which should all but guarantee them a playoff spot.


4. Clackamas
No. 1 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 2, No. 5 coaches

The Cougars seem to have recovered from their "rough patch" where they lost back to back games, and are back to regular form once again. They did have one hiccup, but that hiccup was easily easily the closest that any team has played Lane all season long, with Clackamas falling 72-68 [box] on Dec. 9. They then turned around and absolutely demolished Edmonds 97-34 [box] and went on to take the Columbia Basin Crossover Championship with a 63-51 [box] defeat of the defending champs. As in previous years, Clackamas is a 'score first, ask questions later' team, but this year that offense can come from anywhere as six players average more than nine points a game.


5. Big Bend
No. 1 Coaches
Previous ranking: NR, No. 1 coaches

Ever since losing to No. 8 Skagit Valley on Nov. 30, Big Bend has been on fire. They've won seven games in a row, including four games in four days. One of those last four was a win avenging their one loss to SVC, but outside of that victory, BBCC has only one other win over a team with a winning percentage. That win came over Whatcom in the title match of the Whatcom Crossover, which went to double overtime before Big Bend pulled out the 70-66 [box] victory. Big Bend looks good because of their record, but in order to move up in the rankings, they need a solid win against a ranked team, a chance they might very well get at next weekend's Lady Devil Holiday Tournament, which features teams like No. 3 Centralia, No. 6 Yakima Valley and NJCAA powerhouse North Idaho.


6. Skagit Valley
No. 1 Coaches
Previous ranking: 3, No. 7 coaches

Skagit Valley has a lot to feel good about. The only one of their losses to an unranked team was an embarrassing 63-32 [box] blowout at the hands of Bellevue, but that one aside, the Cardinals hung tough with No. 5 Big Bend and got flattened just like everybody else against No. 1 Lane. Now that all that is out of the way, we can focus on the positive things. First in Skagit's book the fact that they seem to have No. 7 Umpqua's number. SVC has knocked off Umpqua twice so far this season, 88-81 and 88-80, and account for two of UCC's three losses. The Cardinals also have a solid win over a resurgent Wenatchee (7-3) team, as well as a 75-67 [box] victory over No. 5 Big Bend.


7. Yakima Valley
No. 1 Coaches
Previous ranking: NR, No. 2 coaches

Looking at the list of Yakima Valley's losses, there's only one that is really a surprise. Most people didn't see the loss to Chemeketa coming, but then again Chemeketa is one of the more underrated teams out there at this point. It wasn't that YVCC lost to No. 1 Lane that was unusual. It was that the Yaks got their tails handed to them by 30 points, after keeping things close even in their losses. That blowout, though did again showcase Yakima Valley's inability to score. They're last of all the ranked teams in points per game with 64.6, and they have been held to 54 points or less three times, a far cry from years past.


8. Umpqua
No. 1 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 8, No. 3 coaches

Somewhere along the way, Umpqua lost their footing. Whether a nagging injury or a stroke of bad luck, guard Christal Jeff has been in a slump as of late, and hasn't had a double figure scoring night since Nov. 30, after doing so in six of her first seven games as a freshman. Hayley Renolds has stepped up her game to fill the gap, and is now playing more minutes and averaging more than 18 points a game. It's obvious that Umpqua misses' Jeff's contributions, however, and none more apparent than their back to back losses to No. 8 Skagit Valley and Lower Columbia at the Whatcom Crossover tournament. Something has to change for the Riverhawks, who came out of the starting gate looking like a possible finals team.


1 comment:

  1. Love your work and research of all the teams