Jan 30, 2013

Edmonds men survive shake up, remain No. 1

NWAACC Men's Basketball

This was a strange week for the NWAACC men, as many of the top teams stumbled in their last four games. Edmonds still continues to look like the odds-on favorite, but several contenders are beginning to creep up. Big Bend's winning streak and list of vanquished opponents grows longer by the week, and Pierce's offensive efficiency is consistently among the league's best. It's hard to believe it, but we're entering the final stretch: just a few weeks left before the tournament!

Be sure to check back in a week's time for Full Court Press, a bi-weekly roundup of NWAACC basketball action to fill in the gaps. Coaches rankings are in italics under each team's record. If you have a question or a comment feel free to leave it below, respond via twitter or send me an email

Full Court Press: Dark Horse Week is now live online! Do you have a dark horse prediction?


1. Edmonds (17-2, 4-0 North)
No. 1 coaches
Previous ranking: No. 1, No. 1 coaches

There hasn't been much drama in the last two weeks for Edmonds, other than their harrowing 88-86 [box] victory over Bellevue on Jan. 16. They are now the only team to go undefeated in region play, and have the best record in the league at 17-2. They have now won 10 games in a row after getting blown out by Peninsula, and only two of those ten games have been decided by six points or less. Edmonds' stars Shaq Mckissic and Riccardo Maxwell, who have been recognized by the league for their scoring efforts, have put up some impressive numbers so far. The problem is, after their top four that average in double figures, almost nobody else scores. Those numbers have nearly come back to bite Edmonds, who got 14 points off the bench in the combined victories over Bellevue and Whatcom.


2. Big Bend (17-4, 6-1 East)
No. 2 coaches
Previous ranking: No. 4, No. 4 coaches

While their numbers aren't quite as unsettling as they were in the preseason, the last few weeks have proven that Big Bend can score nearly at will. They now average 89.95 points per game, a few behind Shoreline's gaudy numbers for second place. So far, the recipe for beating Big Bend is defense, defense, defense. They haven't lost a game in which they've scored 80 points or more, and in games where the Vikings are held under that magic number, they are 3-3. Brendan Westendorf's 21.1 points, 6.9 assists and 47 steals are good for sixth, second and seventh respectively in the NWAACC, making him one of only two players to be in the top seven in three categories. 


3. Pierce (15-4, 17-1 West)
No. 3 coaches
Previous ranking: No. 8, No. 5 coaches

Continuing their stubborn lack of a reliance on the three point shot may be one of Pierce's biggest strengths. They have shot fewer three pointers than nearly any team in the league, and it is no coincidence that they are the only teams shooting higher than 50% from the floor. If you take out the three pointers, that percentage goes up to 57%, an outrageously high number. Couple that with the fact that Pierce is also among the league leaders in scoring average, and you get a very consistent, very steady team.


4. Tacoma (13-6, 6-2 West)
No. 5 coaches
Previous ranking: No. 6, No. 8 coaches

Proof that you don't have to score to be a good team, Tacoma averages near the top of the Western Region teams, but near the bottom of the NWAACC in points per contest. The Titans went 3-1 in the last two weeks, the only loss being a 61-47 [box] debacle to a hot Lower Columbia team, a win that was LCCC's fifth in a row. In that game, Tacoma's two top scorers were held to a combined nine points on 3-20 shooting. They normally combine for 24, part of a balanced, but low scoring starting five. Coming up, Tacoma will get a chance to pit their defense and slow pace against brilliant offense when they match up against No. 3 Pierce on Feb. 2 on the road.


5. Lane (17-4, 5-2 South)
No. 4 coaches
Previous ranking: No. 3, No. 3 coaches

The last two weeks haven't been quite the smooth sailing that Lane had in the preseason. They flattened No. 8 SW Oregon, but were pushed to the brink on the road at Clackamas (10-11, 2-5 South) and gave up a four point halftime lead before winning the game 87-80 [box] in overtime. Their next outing ended in a 64-56 [box] loss to Umpqua, a sting that the following narrow victory over Portland did little to heal. Lane is now in a three way tie for first place in the Southern region after a dominant preseason in which  they went 12-2. Their next two games are against opponents that are far below .500, but on the horizon is a huge match up with Chemeketa, a team that has been much improved lately.


6. Peninsula (14-6, 5-2 North)
No. 6 coaches
Previous ranking: No. 2, No. 2 (tie) coaches

Aside from their loss to No. 1 Edmonds, Peninsula had been rolling as of late. At least, that was until they went to visit Bellevue. That game ended in frustration for Peninsula. Four technical fouls, an ejection and a roster one smaller coupled with a loss has Peninsula reeling, but not finished. They are one of the most talented teams in the league, and have seemed next to unstoppable as long as personalities don't get in the way. Things definitely don't get any easier from here on out, as they have to visit No. 7 Whatcom before hosting No. 1 Edmonds. These next few games could very well decide how the season will finish. If things get put back together, Peninsula could challenge for a place in the final four. If not, the Pirates could fall as low as the fourth seed, or out of the playoffs all together.


7. Whatcom (13-6, 5-2 North)
No. 7 coaches
Previous ranking: NR, NR coaches

Just one of a host of Northern Region teams in this week's rankings, it seems that every northern region game bears more weight than most match ups elsewhere. Which is why Whatcom's 5-2 regular season start is so impressive. Their two losses, to No. 1 Edmonds and No. 6 Peninsula, were by three points each. However, those aren't the only close games that Whatcom has been in. They beat Everett by three, Bellevue by two, and Skagit Valley by four. In fact, the Orcas have only been in one blowout since the start of the regular season, 21  point flattening of Shoreline. All that goes to say that Whatcom has more experience in close contests than just about any other team in the league.


8. SW Oregon (10-9, 5-2 South)
NR coaches
Previous ranking: NR, NR coaches

The SW Oregon Lakers have quietly been having a fantastic season. Last time around, they won a play-in game before knocking off the top seed in the championship tournament. This season, they may not have such a tough road. A 5-2 start has SWOCC tied for first place in the South after a thrilling 89-88 victory over Chemeketa on Jan 26. The road gets a little smoother in the next few weeks, as SW Oregon will face three of the bottom four teams from the South. That stretch is a chance for the Lakers to build up some momentum, as they still have to play No. 4 Lane once more, and Chemeketa to finish off the season.


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