Feb 27, 2013

Edmonds, Big Bend, Pierce top final rankings

NWAACC Men's Basketball

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Ladies and Gentlemen, the wait is over! A year removed from last year's fantastic spectacle, the NWAACC's best are set to be at it again. The first round has a few upset possibilities. Firstly, Clackamas has been on a tear to finish the season, and if they can keep things close with No. 5 Yakima Valley, they have a chance. Also, No. 6 Whatcom and No. 8 Centralia is a toss up at 8 a.m. Whatcom had a tough finish to the season, while Centralia was hot, while low scoring. Lastly, Spokane has a solid chance to knock off the No. 2 seed from the south, SW Oregon, in the late game on Saturday. 

I will be on site recapping games for the league, as well as live tweeting the entire event. You can follow me @JowardHoward for updates, and be sure to keep an eye on the league website for recaps, photos and updated brackets. Also, because the arena is primarily used for hockey, bring  some warm socks if you plan on sitting near the court. With that, enjoy the tournament!

 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. Edmonds (23-3, 13-1 North)
No. 2 (tied) coaches
Previous ranking: No. 1, No. 1 coaches

The coaches have Edmonds down into a tie with Pierce for second place, but I'm not quite ready to de-crown the Tritons just yet. After falling to Whatcom, they won their final five games of the season to finish 13-1 in a very tough Northern Region. In addition to having the highest win percentage vs. NWAACC competition, Edmonds also has had one of the more difficult regular season schedules. Forward Shaq McKissic has stepped up in a huge way en route to winning the Northern Region MVP distinction. McKissic may be the best all around player in the league this year. second in points, third in rebounding, sixth in steals and 18th in assists, he is the only player in the NWAACC to be in the top 25 of all the major statistical categories. And don't forget that Edmonds has a pair of players scoring 20 points or more per game. If McKissic and Riccardo Maxwell both get it going, they're hard to pick against.

No. 1 Edmonds will face Lower Columbia at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 2


2. Big Bend (24-4, 13-1 East)
No. 1 coaches
Previous ranking: No. 2, No. 1 coaches

Ever since losing the regular season opener to Spokane, Big Bend has been perfect, finishing league play at 13-1. Led by the 21+ points of region MVP and Freshman of the Year and  Brendan Westendorf, Big Bend is one of the best scoring teams in the NWAACC, averaging 88.36 points per game. Oddly enough, only one other player from Big Bend made the all-region's first or second team, but Big Bend made up for nearly half of the all-defensive team, which is telling. Not only can Big Bend score, but they're well rounded on both ends of the floor, take care of the ball, AND they're balanced on offense. Four players average in double figure scoring, and three players have broken the 30 point barrier. Points can come from anywhere.

No. 2 Big Bend will face Lane at 10 am on Saturday, March 2


3. Pierce (23-4, 15-1 West)
No. 2 (tied) coaches
Previous ranking: No. 3, No. 2 coaches

One thing that is interesting about the tournament is that, as time goes on, legs go soft. Meaning? The teams that run up and down, shoot tons of three pointers and score loads of points will have a harder time keeping up the same energy that they started out with. Pierce, while they score a lot, is not one of those teams. They shoot very high percentage shots, mostly from inside the arc, meaning that losing their legs due to exhaustion on day three and four of the tournament won't be as much of an issue.

No. 3 Pierce will face Everett at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 2


4. Tacoma (19-8, 12-4 West)
No. 5 coaches
Previous ranking: No. 7, NR coaches

Until they suffered a tough loss to Lower Columbia in their penultimate regular season game, Tacoma had been on quite the run, winning five games in a row after barely falling to Pierce on Feb. 2. Tacoma also seems to have found some offense in the latter stages of the season, putting up three 90+ point games in the final few weeks. That comes on the heels of a season in which the Western Region didn't do much scoring whatsoever. If Tacoma can keep up that pace with their defensive abilities, they'll be a tough opponent in the tournament.

No. 4 Tacoma will face Peninsula at noon on Saturday, March 2


5. Yakima Valley (20-8, 10-4 East)
No. 4 coaches
Previous ranking: NR, No. 4 coaches

Winning six out of their last seven will do a lot for Yakima Valley, who needed each and every single one of those wins to get ahead of Spokane, who finished a game behind the Yaks with the third seed in the East. YVCC can definitely score. They put up just over 85 points per game, but that's not what is most impressive about Yakima Valley. The wicked stat is blocks: they lead the NWAACC with 115 blocks, or an average of almost four swats per outing. If they have the same scrappy, never-give-up, we're-never-down-by-too-much attitude that we saw last year (upset top-ranked Clark in the first round) then they are dangerous to whomever they face. Plus, how cool of a name is Joel Yellow-Owl?

No. 5 Yakima Valley will face Clackamas at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 2


6. Whatcom (18-8, 10-4 North)
No. 4 coaches
Previous ranking: No. 4, No. 4 coaches

Whatcom is one of those teams that is simply more than a sum of their parts. They have good rebounding numbers (4th NWAACC), but that's about as flashy as things get. They also stumbled into the tournament, losing their final two games  and letting any chance of catching Edmonds slip out of their grasp. That said, those two losses were close, and Whatcom has managed to hold Shoreline under their average by 18 points AND outscore Edmonds in perhaps their biggest win of the season. 

No. 6 Whatcom will face No. 8 Centralia at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 2


7. Chemeketa (17-8, 10-4 South)
No. 6 coaches
Previous ranking: No. 5, No. 5 coaches

Chemeketa has had their fair share of extremely close losses, games in which things could have gone either way. We could see Chemeketa sitting at 12-2 in league instead of 10-4, but the Storm also have several ugly losses on their record as well, namely the 20 point debacle against Mt. Hood. Part of that is because the South isn't quite as well separated as the other regions. It may not have been perfect, but Chemeketa did what they had to do in order to break the tie and take the Southern Region title for  themselves. And let's not forget that Chemeketa has a lot of experience in this tournament. A number of players were on the team last year that made it all the way to the championship, where they fell to Tacoma.

No. 7 Chemeketa will face Walla Walla at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 2


8. Centralia (18-9, 12-4 West)
No, 8 coaches
Previous ranking: NR, NR coaches

Another one of those defensive teams in a defensive region, Centralia's only in-league losses this regular season were twice each to No. 3 Pierce and No. 4 Tacoma. Perhaps a credit to their defense, Centralia somehow managed to win 18 games this season whilst sitting fourth from the bottom in the league in scoring. Teams have only broken 80 on Centralia just twice, and the Blazers have one of the lowest opponent scoring averages in the NWAACC. That said, they will face teams in this tournament that can score better than many of their Western Region counterparts, putting their defense to the definite test.

No. 8 Centralia will face No. 6 Whatcom at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 2



  1. Centralia beat Whatcom earlier in the year - who wins this one? It's a shame it's at 8am, could be the most fun game of the opening round.

  2. I'll be there! :) And I think that, even though I ranked them lower, Centralia has a solid chance at the upset here.

  3. Hey, somebody has to play at 8 a.m. Win your region and you get a better time slot!