The Columbia Basin College womens basketball team clinched a berth on Saturday in the upcoming Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges tournament, set for the Toyota Center on March 1-4.
But on Wednesday night, the Hawks showed they werent ready to coast for the rest of the regular season after routing visiting Big Bend 78-53 in an East Region contest.
With the victory, the top-ranked Hawks are now 11-0 in region play, 21-3 overall, and who everyone else is aiming for.
We have a very big target on our backs, said CBC sophomore Sierra Higheagle. And its getting bigger and bigger.
The CBC men, meanwhile, suffered a heartbreaking 91-90 loss to the Vikings men, as Kevin Walker sank a free throw with 0.3 seconds remaining in regulation to give Big Bend the victory.
Our game plan was to hold them to under 80 points, said CBC mens coach Rolando Garcia. Every time they score more than 80 points, they win. We came up short tonight.
Despite the loss, the Hawks still have first place in the East Region to themselves with an 8-3 region record (15-8 overall).
Treasure Valley, a half-game back at 7-3, is in second place.
CBCs men still have not clinched a tournament berth and have lost two consecutive games.
With three contests left in regular-season play, the Hawks will need to win at least one more to possible get in.
The night started out so well, as Cheryl Holdens CBC women were in a back-and-forth battle with the Lady Vikings (6-5 East, 16-9 overall).
But it wasnt until late in the first half that CBC took control of things for good.
A basket by Big Bends Jessica Sorensen with 5:55 to play cut CBCs lead to 31-27.
But then the Hawks went on an 11-3 run, as Higheagle scored five points and Lyndsay Oswalt added four in that run.
That made it 42-30 Hawks with 2 minutes left before intermission, and the Vikings never threatened again.
That was probably the best defensive performance weve had this season, said Holden.
Indeed, Big Bend which came into the game averaging 75.9 points a game this season couldnt get into its offense set numerous times until there was just 10 to 12 seconds remaining on the 30-second shot clock.
That was the plan, said Holden. That, and get out on them when they shot 3s.
CBC itself has been averaging 81.2 points a game this season, and the Hawks took advantage on second-chance points, outscoring Big Bend in that category 25-12.
And while Kamiakin graduate Courtney Nelson was the star on the scoresheet 20 points on 10-for-16 shooting, and eight rebounds there were many other standouts for the Hawks.
Kelsey Yenney sank three treys and finished with 13 points. Point guard Shannon Bland only scored 2 points, but she had a team-high 10 rebounds and eight assists.
And then there was Higheagle and Lyndsay Oswalt.
Higheagle had just 9 points. Oswalt only had 4.
But the two of them together proved lethal in that key 11-3 run that put the game away. It was just more evidence that Holdens team is loaded with many different players who can step up at different times.
Everybody is good on this team, said Oswalt. It takes just person to do something that picks all the rest of us up.
There is a lot of talent on this team, she said. When someone is having a problem, someone else comes along and picks things up.
Its another reason CBC isnt just settling for making the NWAACC tournament.
We want the top spot (seed), said Holden. We dont want to be tied with anyone.
As long as they continue to follow Holdens lead, says Oswalt, things shouldnt be a problem.
I picked this place because shes one of the best coaches around, said Oswalt, a freshman from Granger. If we listen to our coaches, work hard in practice and the games, we know well do well.
Meanwhile, the CBC and Big Bend men were involved in a dogfight all night long, with 12 lead changes and the game being tied eight different times.
Garcia wanted his team to keep the high-scoring Vikings under 80, but since they average 93.2 points this season that would be a tall order.
Brendan Westendorf, who averages 29.6 points for Big Bend, scored 31 points despite a great defensive effort from CBCs Buddy Walter on him.
But it was Vikings point guard Victor Aguero who made a difference, as he scored 23 points. He also let fly a halfcourt shot that banked in at the buzzer, giving the Vikings a 48-46 halftime lead.
Big Bend had a 90-84 lead with 49 seconds remaining when the Hawks made one last charge.
Justin Smith, a Chiawana graduate, was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 29 seconds left. He sank all three free throws to cut the Big Bend lead to 90-87.
CBC then stole the inbounds pass, moved the ball around, and found Smith for an NBA-distance trey attempt. It found nothing but net with 18.5 seconds left, tying the game at 90-90.
The Vikings worked the ball around until they got it in the hands of Westendorf, who tried to take Walter one-on-one. Walter played great defense, and at the last second the Vikings star dished the ball underneath to Walker.
Walker tried to go up with a shot as time expired, when an official called Smith for a foul. After the three officials consulted for a few minutes, they ruled the foul did occur with 0.3 seconds remaining.
Walker sank the first free throw, then missed the second on purpose as the game ended.
We had our chances to win the game, said Garcia. They made their free throws down the stretch.
Mitchell Zapien came off the bench for the Hawks to score 26 points. Smith and Kyler DeWitt had 14 points each, while James Lopez added 13.
Note: Higheagle, Yenney, Bland and Alicia Jones all were honored between games Wednesday after being named NWAACC Academic All-Stars.
Big Bend men 91, CBC 90
BIG BEND Shawn Spencer 0-1 0-0 0, Victor Aguero 6-11 8-9 23, Joe Timofeyev 0-0 0-0 0, Brendan Westendorf 10-15 9-10 31, Garret Wendt 2-5 0-0 5, Donavin Wright 4-8 2-2 10, Richard Black 2-5 1-2 5, Kevin Walker 2-6 3-4 9, Sean McDonnell 4-6 0-0 8. Totals 30-57 23-27 91.
COLUMBIA BASIN James Lopez 5-11 1-2 13, Jordan King 0-0 0-0 0, Justin Smith 4-11 4-5 14, Brandon Oswalt 2-4 0-0 5, Jordan EnWezoh 0-0 0-0 0, Kyler DeWitt 4-9 3-4 14, Mitchell Zapien 12-18 0-0 26, Steven Walter 3-9 4-4 10, Andrew Reddout 1-4 6-8 8. Totals 31-66 18-23 90.
HalftimeBB 48, CBC 46. 3-point goalsBB 8-21 (Augero 3-7, Westendorf 2-4, Walker 2-5, Wendt 1-3, Black 0-1), CBC 10-24 (DeWitt 3-6, Zapien 2-2, Lopez 2-5, Smith 2-6, Oswalt 1-3, Walter 0-1, Reddout 0-1). ReboundsBB 31 (Westendorf 7), CBC 33 (Lopez 7). AssistsBB 9 (Aguero, Westendorf 3), CBC 18 (Walter 5). TurnoversBB 14, CBC 10. FoulsBB 17, CBC 22. Fouled out, Lopez, Smith
CBC women 78, Big Bend 53
BIG BEND Tasha Huff 2-3 1-2 6, Elizabeth Larrew 2-9 0-2 4, Aubrie Vale 4-15 1-1 12, Julie Bonner 1-8 2-2 5, Riley Jemmett 3-9 2-3 10, Jessica Sorensen 6-12 0-2 12, Cristina Marlatt 1-5 0-0 2, Sam Orme 1-8 0-0 2. Totals 20-69 6-12 53.
COLUMBIA BASIN Alicia Jones 2-2 0-0 4, Kellie Ross 3-3 0-0 8, Kelsey Yenney 5-7 0-0 13, Kim Harrod 0-0 0-0 0, Shannon Bland 1-4 0-0 2, Sydney Mercer 3-9 0-0 7, Lyndsay Oswalt 2-5 0-0 4, Sierra Higheagle 4-13 0-0 9, Lacie French 3-7 2-2 8, Brenda Bingham 0-0 0-0 0, Courtney Weber 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Depew 1-2 1-2 3, Courtney Nelson 10-16 0-0 20. Totals 34-68 3-4 78.
HalftimeCBC 46, BB 35. 3-point goalsBB 7-32 (Vale 3-11, Jemmett 2-6, Bonner 1-5, Huff 1-1, Orme 0-5, Larrew 0-3, Marlatt 0-1), CBC 7-16 (Yenney 3-5, Ross 2-2, Higheagle 1-5, Mercer 1-1, Nelson 0-2, French 0-1). ReboundsBB 40 (Sorensen 10), CBC 48 (Bland 10). AssistsBB 8 (Vale, Marlatt 3), CBC 19 (Bland 8). TurnoversBB 18, CBC 18. FoulsBB 10, CBC 16.