Cheryl Holden’s Columbia Basin College women’s basketball
team has come into the Northwest Athletic Association of Community
Colleges championship tournament as the favorite before.
But this year’s 23-4 squad just might be her best.
It’s reflected in the East Region all-star announcement earlier this week.
players — Shannon Bland (Ellensburg) , Sydney Mercer (Prosser) and
Courtney Nelson (Kamiakin) — were named first-team all-stars by the
Teammate Sierra Higheagle (Clarkston) is a second-team selection.
Bland was named defensive player of the year, while teammate Alicia Jones (Skyline, Idaho Falls) was on the all-defensive team.
(13.3 points) was also named the East’s freshman of the year, and there
could be a legitimate argument that she should have been named the East
Region MVP for her play.
Oh yes, Holden was named the region’s top coach.
Now take into account that most of the above players didn’t get normal minutes this season, because Holden had a deep roster.
It’s no surprise the hometown Hawks will enter this weekend’s tournament as the favorite.
But it won’t be easy to win this event. There are plenty of challengers:
Other tourney favorites
Clark (23-3). High
school fans may remember Clark’s head coach, Al Aldridge, who was the
longtime coach at Prairie High until a few years ago and was the West
coach of the year this season. Brooke Bowen (Skyview) is the West MVP
and leads the Penguins with 17.5 points a game. Nicolette Bond (Battle
Ground) and Haley Grossman (Battle Ground) were first-team South
all-stars, and Shantell Jackson (Auburn Riverside) and Taylor Howlett
(Lewis & Clark) also provide support.
Lane (22-6). The
defending NWAACC champion, the Titans have a local connection in
freshman Heidi Walchli (Hermiston). This is the highest scoring team in
the NWAACC at 85.5 points. Shelby Snook (Roseburg) is the star here,
averaging 19.4 points a game and is a first-team South all-star. Tori
Mahaffie (Willamette) and Joleen Chanco (Roseville, Calif.) are other
Umpqua (21-6). Two big scorers here: South Region MVP Ashli
Payne (Olympic; 10.4 rebounds) at 18.5 points, and first-team all-star
Kyndal Charleston (Los Angeles) at 17.5. South coach of the year Dave
Stricklin can also look to Asia Smith (Los Angeles; 9.5 rebounds) for
Walla Walla (18-7). Coach Bobbi Hazeltine seems to
get her Warriors to the tournament every year. Umatilla sophomore
Jessica Siler, a first-team East all-star, has been a strong presence in
the paint (7.4 rebounds). Bailey Nygaard (Kamiah, Idaho; 11.2 points)
is also a team leader. Amy DeLong (Vale, Ore.) leads the team in scoring
Bellevue (20-7). Team
is coached by Jeremy Eggers, the North coach of the year who also
coaches Bellevue men’s team. Former Davis High star Mel Stubblefield is
an assistant, and Ellensburg freshman Kelcie Russell is on the roster.
Alexis Berrysmith (Kentwood) and Airashay Rogers (Hazen; 11.6 points)
are first-team North all-stars, while Jori Hall (Sehome) is the top
Chemeketa (17-10). Irma Savoy (West
Salem, Ore.; 17.4 points; 9.3 rebounds; 3.1 steals) is a first-team
South all-star, while McKenzi Benedict (Lebanon, Ore.) and Taylor Munson
(Molalla, Ore.) provide support.
Clackamas (19-6). Laci
Effenberger (Ketchikan, Alaska) is the star here at 17.3 points and 6.3
assists. Jasmine Gibbs-Brown (Century, Hillsboro, Ore.) and Tori
Wilkinson (Willamette, Ore.) provide support.
Lower Columbia (21-6). Kaylea
Knox (Rainier, Ore.) is the team’s leading scorer at 12.2 a game.
Arnesha Smith (Tyee), though, is a first-team West all-star. Donniesha
Webber (Cleveland) provides defensive support.
Sophomore Nathalie Gruber hails from Ellensburg, while freshman Nikki
Gilbert (5.3 assists) is from Eastmont. Kortney Grattic (Lynden)
averages 20.0 points and was the North’s MVP. Kayla Tiemersma (Lynden
Christian) is a first-team North all-star, while Alisha Friberg (Lynden
Christian) is the team’s best defensive player.
Blue Mountain (19-8). Mar’Shay Moore (Fort Vancouver; 18.3 points) is the Timberwolves’ best player, making the first-team East all-star unit.
Centralia (14-12). Karina Gee (Auburn Riverside; 10.7 points) and Leah Davis (Gig Harbor) helped get Centralia to the tournament.
Highline (19-9). Victoria
Elleby (Chief Sealth; 13.8 points) is the team’s top player, making
first-team West all-star. Lanae Adams (Prairie) provides support.
Peninsula (11-13). Only
team in the field with a losing record. Gabi Fenumiai (Juneau-Douglas,
Alaska) is the team’s best player with 15.3 points and 11.9 rebounds,
making first-team all-North. Madison Pilster (Blackfoot, Idaho) provides
Skagit Valley (19-8). First-team North all-star
Sydney Brown (Burlington-Edison) is the Cardinals’ top scorer at 13.1 a
game. But Arie Boyd (Anacortes) and Samantha Kelleigh (Stanwood) can
Spokane (15-12). Riley Holsinger (North Central;
3.1 steals) was named the East’s MVP and led the entire NWAACC in
scoring at 22.4 points a game. Hanford High grad Morgan Freeman is
strong inside and can play defense. Bianca Gonzales (Chiawana) is also
on the team.
Published with permission of the Tri-City Herald. Additional news stories can be accessed online at the Tri-City Herald.
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