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Men's Basketball Elite Eight Recaps

2019-03-08 14:56:47

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Behind key baskets from Jake Albright, Damon Thacker and Forrest Smith, Walla Walla closed the game on a 35-20 run to overcome Lower Columbia 63-62 and advance to the Final Four of the NWAC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Everett Community College.

Albright finished with 26 points and 15 rebounds, Thacker closed with 20 points and Smith added 10 as Walla Walla moved to 21-10. The Warriors, the second seed out of the East Region, will face third-seeded Spokane Saturday in the Final Four. The East Region placed three teams in the Final Four. North Idaho will meet Lane in the other semifinal. Walla Walla won the championship in Everett in 2017.

Lower Columbia, the West’s fourth seed, knocked off North No. 1 Everett in overtime in the first round and nearly pulled its second straight upset. The Red Devils finished 17-11.

After Walla Walla led 4-0 early, Lower Columbia took the lead at 11-9 with 14:03 left in the first half and held it for most of the game. The Red Devils led 36-22 with 3:04 in the first half and held a 38-26 halftime lead.

They extended that to 42-28 with 17:25 left in the game, but then the Warriors, who made only 2 of 13 3-point shots in the first half, came alive. Behind Albright inside and Thacker and Smith outside, the Warriors finally caught Lower Columbia 50-50 with 6:50 left, and they took the lead at 53-52 with 6:00 left.

Up 61-55 in the final minute, Walla Walla nearly let the game get away. The Warriors missed a free throw and watched as Lower Columbia scored, stole the inbounds pass and scored again on a three-point play to cut it to 61-60.

Thacker made a pair of free throws with 29.1 seconds left to make it 63-60, and Lower Columbia answered to make it 63-62. Following a missed Walla Walla free throw, the Red Devils had a final chance but a last-gasp try wouldn’t fall.

Seth Hall led Lower Columbia with 21 points and Samaad Hector added 17.

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Four Spokane players scored in double figures as the Sasquatch advanced to the NWAC Men’s Basketball Final Four with a 93-69 victory over Whatcom Friday at Everett Community College.

Garrett White led the way with 27 points, and he was joined in double figures by JR Delgado (19), Anthony Parker (16) and Asher Cox (12).

Spokane won its fourth straight game and advanced to a Final Four matchup next Saturday at 7 p.m. against either Eastern Region foe Walla Walla or Lower Columbia from the Western Region. Spokane split its games with Walla Walla, and the Bigfoot defeated Lower Columbia earlier in the season.

Whatcom, which placed three players in double figures, finished the season at 14-14. The Orcas were led by Dominick Oliveri’s 15 points. Trazil Lane added 14 and Grant Balvanz scored 11.

The Sasquatch ran to a 41-23 lead at halftime behind hot shooting. Early in the second half, Whatcom cut the lead to 14, but White and Delgado nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to increase the lead to 20, and Spokane was never seriously threatened.

Spokane shot 49 percent from the field, including 46 percent from beyond the arc. The Sasquatch also made 12 of 14 free throws. Whatcom shot 36 percent from the field and 39 percent from the free-throw line.


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Game two of the NWAC Men’s Elite 8 Basketball Tournament featured the Green River Community College Gators and the Lane Community College Titans.  The Titans defeated the Gators 90-80 and move on to next week’s NWAC Final Four.  In a closely contested first half, the Titans led at the half 39-34. 

To start the game though, Alex Sommerfield of the Gators scored eleven point in less than 2.5 minutes.  For the half, Sommerfield had 20 of Green River’s 34 first-half points.

The pace of the second half continued as both teams continued to push the ball and attack the basket.  Cam Cawley for the Gators led the Gators charge and when the Gators would get it to two, the Titans would answer with a big basket.  Often times it was Cody Mathis and Lucas Wilson answering the ball for the Titans with big baskets. 

Lane had a balanced scoring attack with 5 players scoring in double figures, Tarik Cool 21 points, Cody Mathis 19 points, Lezjon Bonds, 15 points, Lucas Wilson 14 points, and Tashon Brown, 10 points. 

Green River was led in scoring by Sommerfield with 24 points, Cam Cawley 19 points, and Kevin Baker with 13 points.

Lane’s victory moves them into next Saturday’s Final Four to face the North Idaho Cardinals at 5pm.

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In the opening match-up of the NWAC Men’s Elite 8, the #1 ranked and defending NWAC champions, North Idaho College Cardinals battled the #3 seed from the west, Centralia College Trailblazers. 

The Cardinals defeated the Trailblazers 84-56.  For the first 30 minutes the underdog, Centralia Trailblazers gave the Cardinals a tough battle. 

After both teams traded baskets and leads, the Trailblazers took a 24-15 lead at the 10:18 mark of the first half.  After the timeout, the Cardinals led by RayQuan Evans 16 first-half points tied the score at the half 34-34.  Tyler Ashmore led the Trailblazers with 12 points.  Centralia shot 48% for the half while the Cardinals shot 41% from the floor.

The Cardinals started the half on a 10-2 run with Centralia not scoring from the field for the first 5 minutes.  At the first media timeout in the half, the Cardinals led 44-40.  NIC continued to build the lead with Emmitt Taylor leading the way hitting four timely 3-point baskets on his way to 19 second half points.  NIC athleticism, man to man defense, ball movement, and depth took control of the game.  The Trailblazers only scored only three baskets in the first 12:30 of the second half.

NIC had four players, Evans, Taylor III, Alphonso Anderson, Nate Pryor, scoring in double digits.   Centralia was paced by Ashmore with 16 points, Marqus Gilson 14 points, and LaBrandon Price with 10.

North Idaho moves on to the Final Four next weekend and will play the winner of Green River CC vs. Lane CC.

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