Feb 27, 2013

No. 1 Clackamas women take narrow lead over Lane into championship tournament

NWAACC Women's Basketball

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It's finally here! The NWAACC Tournament is no longer right around the corner, the brackets are set and it begins in just a few days time in the Toyota Center in Tri-Cities, Wash. Taking a quick look at the first round match ups, pretty much everything is an easy pick with the exception of Clark vs. Whatcom, the late game on Saturday night. Another possible upset in the first round is Skagit Valley and Lower Columbia. LCCC pulled of a big road win over No. 4 Centralia earlier in the season, and while they aren't a threat to win it all, they have show ability to step up in big games and catch teams napping. 

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. Clackamas (23-3, 13-1 South)
No. 1 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 1, No. 2 coaches

Clackamas went 69 days in between losses until they made the trip down to No. 2 Lane and fell in a fantastic contest, 66-63 [box]. Now normally, a situation like that would see the winning team move up and the losing team move down. However, if you contrast the two games played in league, you have to lean in Clackamas' favor. The game Clackamas won at home, the Cougars shut down Lane in the second half and won by double digits. The road loss was by three measly points and on a night that point guard Laci Effenburger went an uncharacteristic 1-10 from the field with three turnovers and just one assist. Right now, Clackamas is a favorite to win it all, but they will still have to get past Lane one more time to do it.

No. 1 Clackamas will face Spokane at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 2


2. Lane (26-2, 12-2 South)
No. 2 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 3, No. 1 coaches

Not all of the credit for Lane's win over No. 1 Clackamas can go to the fact that Clackamas had a bad night. In fact, that is only a small part of it. Lane is one of a handful of teams in the league that has the post presence, namely sophomore star and NWAACC Player of the Week Megan Shields, to contend with the twin (literally twin) towers of Clackamas. Shields netted 18 points, 6 boards and four blocks in the win, and was a huge difference maker in that game. Clackamas often relies on cutters to space out the floor for their three point shooters, and with Shields clogging up the lane (heh heh), that style becomes much more difficult.

No. 2 Lane will face No. 7 Yakima Valley at noon on Saturday, March 2


3. Walla Walla (23-3, 12-2 East)
No. 3 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 3, No. 3 coaches

While it wasn't exactly against all the top teams in the East, Walla Walla got things back on track to finish out their regular season campaign. The Warriors' two losses in the Eastern Region were close, by two and six points, and there doesn't seem to be a glaring hole in Walla Walla's front. They lead the East in scoring at just over 68 points per game, something that will win them a lot of contests, especially in a region that is so strong defensively. Walla Walla's defensive prowess will come in handy in the tournament, which is tough on teams that run for a living because of how close the games are to one another. The slow pace will make Walla Walla hard to beat as the tournament goes on.

No. 3 Walla Walla will face SW Oregon at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 2


4. Centralia (21-5, 14-2 West)
No. 4 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 4, No. 4 coaches

The RPI ratings are rather telling when it comes to Centralia and the Western Region. The rating system does a good job of displaying strength of schedule and balancing that against the record of each team. That in mind, it's not too much of a surprise (if you've been following the last two seasons) that Centralia is ranked 6th and is the only Western Region team in the top half of the ratings other than Clark at No. 16. That said, aside from the confusing loss to Clark last week, Centralia has had an impressive season. They knocked off No. 3 Walla Walla 95-91 [box] in the opening preseason tournament, and hung tough with No. 1 Clackamas before falling 68-65 [box], a game in which Western Region MVP Kristen Schoenherr was more-or-less a nonfactor with four points and two boards. That proves that Centralia CAN play well in big games, but can they win them?

No. 4 Centralia will face Peninsula at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 2


5. Columbia Basin (14-12, 10-4 East)
No. 6 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 8, No. 7 coaches

When the season started, there were some questions as to whether Columbia Basin would even make the tournament at all. Even looking at the surface of their overall record, it's simply decent at best. Then you notice that 10 of their 14 wins came during Eastern Region play, and the No. 5 ranking starts to make a little more sense. It's a little concerning that all four losses came in the last half of the regular season, but Columbia Basin has been impressive ever since the new year rolled around. They stayed extremely close with No. 3 Walla Walla and inched by No. 7 Yakima Valley 75-73 [box]. They are also another team from the East that gets by on their defense, making  them a difficult match up. Add that to the fact that they have been there before, namely the championship last time around, and that they are basically playing in their own backyard, and Columbia Basin could go far in this tournament.

No. 5 Columbia Basin will face Chemeketa at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 2


6. Bellevue (19-8, 12-2 North)
No. 5 Coaches
Previous ranking: NR, NR coaches

When Brittany Barrington, a solid player from last year and a sophomore expected to carry the team this year, went Nov. 17 against Lane, it looked like the year might be over for Bellevue. They had a decent stretch of four wins, and finished the preseason a little better than expected. That's when things turned around in a big way for the Bulldogs. The regular season started off with wins of 42 and 51 points, and Bellevue's success didn't stop there. Airashay Rodgers and Demerea Caples pace Bellevue's scoring with just over ten points a game, and for now it seems that Bellevue has gotten along just fine without their star, especially seeing as their two losses were by a combined three points, and they finished the regular season on a seven game win streak.

No. 6 Bellevue will face Tacoma at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 2


7. Yakima Valley (16-11, 9-5 East)
No. 8 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 5, No. 7 coaches

A newcomer to the rankings right at the last moment, Yakima Valley had an impressive finish to the regular season and will be walking into the tournament on a high note. If not for their narrow loss to No. 5 Columbia Basin, the Yaks would have won their final eight games. Most impressive about that stretch was the 56-50 victory [box] over No. 3 Walla Walla, a team that looked next to unstoppable for most of the season. As with many of the teams in the East (yes, the ever-broken record) Yakima Valley has great defensive stats, including the most total blocks of any Eastern Region team. The numbers may not look quite so shiny as those from the South, but remember that YVCC's pace is slower than that of the high-scoring Southern Region teams, something that will come to their aid in back to back games this weekend. 

No. 7 Yakima Valley will face No. 2 Lane at noon on Saturday, March 2


8. Skagit Valley (19-8, 11-3 North)
No. 7 Coaches
Previous ranking: No. 6, No. 5 coaches

The bump in the road that was their loss to Bellevue aside, Skagit Valley was on fire for the majority of their regular season. After picking up a pair of losses to Whatcom and Peninsula in the early going, they won nine straight to wrestle the second seed away from Whatcom. Despite not finishing at the top of their region, SVC actually led the North in scoring behind 18.6 points from sophomore forward Laken McClelland.

No. 8 Skagit Valley will face Lower Columbia at 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 2  



  1. Lets put Clackamas, Lane & Walla in a tie breaker for head to head competition.
    Lane 2-1
    Walla 1-0
    Clack 1-3
    I think your top 3 are out of order.

  2. The loss to Walla Walla, and the first loss to Lane, Clackamas was missing one of their top players, their point guard. They are better now than they were, and that's what power rankings are about.

  3. Glad you are even covering the teams, definitely appreciate that!
    A little tidbit of info to share regarding Bellevue... In addition to the loss of Barrington, Bellevue has also lost returning sophomore (injury redshirt last year, all-star team freshman year) AC Denhartog to season ending injury. Both Head Coach Brent Hermanson and Associate Coach Paulette Martin left the team mid season at separate times for personal reasons, leaving Assistant Coaches Jensen and Eggers (Bellevue Men’s head coach) to coach the remainder of the season. Despite the adversity the team has fought the way to the top of the Northern Division.
    Excited for the tournament to start and looking forward to your coverage of the games!

  4. Honestly... good reporting... very fair reporting and unbias. This is awesome preview of the rankings. I did a little mock draft one on lcctorch.com if you want to check it out. Other than that... I really enjoyed this a lot and I think you nailed the rankings spot on.

  5. If Power rankings are about who is "better now than they were" (and I agree), Clark is 10-2 since mid January with two losses (by a total of 3 points) one of which came to #4 Centralia. Not saying they are top 5, but certainly top 8. Basin is probably a bit over-rated if you are again going off of better now than they were.

  6. In regards to Clackamas and Lane. I think that the point spread loss really isn't a factor. The game lost at Clackamas was a close game to the end when Lane had to foul to try to get the ball back. Also, Lane was up 35-27 at half and didn't show up in the 2nd. They went to the line in the second half 8 times to Clackamas 23 times and shot poorly probably the biggest factor other than 2nd half poor play. I think the game at Lane was a great game and the foul shots not a factor. Pretty evenly matched in my opinion and I believe both teams are better. I would have to give them co #1 or Lane a slight adavantage. (Record 26-2, beat Clack twice once with and once w/o that player)Just my thoughts:-) Great job and thanks for your coverage!!

  7. In the last 3 years only 3 teams have played in the championship game- all from the east. Yet once again Clackamas and Lane are the favorites. Those who dont learn from history are bound to repeat it™

  8. you listed the Bellevue-Tacoma game at 2pm.
    nwaacc site says 10am.