Jan 4, 2013

Lane women ranked No. 1 after undefeated preseason

NWAACC Women's Basketball

This season has gotten off to an odd start, as things have been shaken up big time in the Eastern Region. Perennial powerhouses Columbia Basin and Yakima Valley, who won the last two NWAACC titles, sit in the bottom half of the Eastern Region standings with the conclusion of the preseason, and Columbia Basin has now fallen to 4-8, their worst start in years. Conversely, the South is looking extremely good. Five teams, four of whom are ranked, have been making noise so far, led by an undefeated Lane team who has been dominating just about every statistical category and looks next to unbeatable. The West and North look to be relatively weak once again as we enter region play. 

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. If you have a question or a comment feel free to leave it below, respond via twitter or send me an email

1. Lane Titans (14-0, 0-0 South)
No. 1 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 1, No. 1 coaches

The Lane Titans capped off a perfect preseason with an exclamation mark: a 14th straight win to dominate the Chemeketa Holiday Tournament. Lane put up some impressive numbers in those last three, including beating Everett by almost 60 points, 117-60 [box]. Lane went on to bowl over the 2012 champion Columbia Basin by 13 points, and then flattened tournament host Chemeketa 92-68. The stats behind Lane's success is more impressive than their record. They lead the league in average points, three pointers made and attempted, assists, blocks and are second in steals and recounds. That's ridiculous, and so is Lane's future. The closest anyone has come to an undefeated season in recent memory was the 2009-10 Yakima Valley team whose one loss was to Walla Walla in the 2010 title game. Right now, that definitely looks like a possibility. 


2. Walla Walla (11-1, 0-0 East)
No. 2 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 2, No. 2 coaches

After taking two weeks off, Walla Walla jumped back into the swing of things and jumped all over Portland, beating the 1-9 Panthers 69-48 [box] in their last contest before the regular season begins. Already one of the best offensive teams  with 76.33 points and 17 boards per game good for fourth and second in the league respectively, Walla Walla is also leading the NWAACC in efficiency. They are one of just two teams to have a positive assist to turnover ratio at 1.09 and are a clear front runner heading into Eastern Region play. 

3. Clackamas (10-3, 0-0 South)
No. 3 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 4, No. 3 coaches

Clackamas returns this season as one of the top offensive programs in the league once again. They are fourth in points with 76.54 per game, second in three pointers made, and seventh in assists. Ever since losing to Lane in a hard-fought 72-68 [box], Clackamas has turned things around, but that loss still lingers. It was a game in which Clackamas committed 32 turnovers and got a season-low two points from Ashleigh Anderson, who was 0-7 from the field in 31 minutes. Anderson has since turned things around, and led the Cougars in a pair of victories over Clark [box]and No. 5 Centralia [box], and Clackamas has won five straight to finish off their preseason.


4. Big Bend (10-4, 0-0 East)
No. 5 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 5, No. 4 coaches

The Vikings have hit a bit of a rough patch, with three straight losses on three straight nights, part of a four games in four days stretch that didn't fare very well for Big Bend. The theme from the last few contests has been the idea that BBCC is a one trick pony. Alli Winters has led the Vikings in almost every game this season, but in the last four, they've only had three other players even reach double figures. That said, Big Bend had been on quite the tear before their current losing streak. Eight wins in a row and a crossover championship don't hurt things at all, Big Bend just needs to become a little more balanced to continue that kind of success.


5. Centralia (8-3, 0-0 West)
No. 4 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 3, No. 6 coaches

Centralia seems to be settling in to their role as a solid team, but just on the outside of the elite circle. They have three losses now, to Yakima Valley, to No. 3 Clackamas and to North Idaho, who is 7-0 against NWAACC teams this season. The loss to Clackamas was a close one, 68-65 [box], and could have been won if not for Centralia's dismal three point shooting (2-16), as they forced the Cougars into 26 turnovers while committing just 19 of their own. From here on out, it will be difficult to judge how well Centralia will do in the tournament, as they play in perhaps the weakest women's region, who has just three teams with seven wins or more.


6. Chemeketa (7-6, 0-0 South)
NR Coaches
Previous ranking: NR, NR coaches

The blowout loss to No. 1 Lane aside (as everybody gets blown out by Lane these days), Chemeketa has found some success as of late. Following the loss to Everett on Dec. 14, the Storm won four contests in a row, including a 64-56 [box] win over No. 7 Wenatchee Valley, and an overtime win against Gray's Harbor. Along with Walla Walla, Chemeketa is the only women's team to have more assists than turnovers. That margin is narrow, but it says something important: Chemeketa isn't making a lot of mistakes. The Storm's biggest issue seems to be that they cannot rebound. They average just under 40 boards a game, making them one of the poorer rebounding teams in the league.


7. Wenatchee Valley (9-4, 0-0 East)
No. 7 Coaches
Previous ranking: NR, NR coaches

The Knights have won four of their last five, with the lone loss being to No. 6 Chemeketa at the Chemeketa Holiday Tournament. The window seems to have opened this year in the east for Wenatchee Valley, as several of the usual suspects are nowhere to be found. Scoring just 61.75 points per game puts WVC near the bottom in the NWAACC, but their defense has more than made up for it. They haven't let a team score more than 71 points, and have held teams to 45 points or less four times. Time will tell if their offense will be enough to stay on top against some of the premiere scoring squads in the league, but for now WVC will focus on a very different looking Eastern Region.


8. Umpqua (10-3, 0-0 South)
No. 6 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 8, No. 7 coaches

Umpqua hasn't played much since the last set of rankings came out, shortly after they lost back to back games for the first time all season. The question then was whether Christal Jeff could get back on form, and it seems she hasn't. They've played just one alumni game in the last two weeks, but Jeff only totaled 6 points and 2 assists in 20 minutes of play, continuing a streak in which she has averaged just over six points a game, down from around 13 through her first six games. If that slump can get shrugged off, than Umpqua has a lot going for them. They are second in scoring, sixth in rebounding, and shoot a league-best 46% from the field and are tied for top honors with 35% from long range.


1 comment:

  1. You not that Lane beat Everett by "almost 60 points" but did not point out that Everett was missing both posts and 2 reserve guards. They started the game with only 6 players and lost their All League point guard with an acl injury during the game.

    So using the "almost 60 point" win you tout is vastly different from the 19 point game they played in the Everett Tournament Final back in November and a similar result if Everett had a full squad.

    That being said Lane is the class of the NWAACC.