Portland men win first NWAACC title in program history

March 4, 2014 

Portland Community College wasn't even on the NWAACC map.

Now it's the capital.

The Panthers completed their astonishing rise from winless nobodies to giant-slayers to giants by holding off Pierce 92-86 in the championship game of the NWAACC men's basketball tournament Tuesday at the Toyota Center.

Portland, which went 0-24 in 2012, was making its first tournament appearance in school history.

"Nobody thought we'd be here, but we had faith in ourselves," said sophomore guard Tremaine Channel, who was 4 for 4 at the free throw line in the last 32 seconds. "We knew if we got by the first round, we'd take it all. It's unbelievable."

"It's incredible," countered Portland's second-year head coach, Tony Broadus. "Not unbelievable, but incredible."

After opening the tournament with a pair of nailbiter victories and then overwhelming Skagit Valley in Monday's semifinals, the Panthers (23-9) played frontrunner against a Pierce team also seeking a first title. Pierce (23-7) mounted a series of furious charges in the second half, but Portland was unflappable, inhaling each run, exhaling a poise and tenacity belying its lack of tournament pedigree.

"We knew coming in that we could do this," Broadus said. "We have a great group. A great coaching staff. A great group of young men."

Channel gave Portland its biggest second-half lead with a deep 3-pointer at the 10:40 mark, but the 10-point lead was transient. The Raiders erupted on a 10-3 run to close within one point, down 70-69, with 5:47 to play.

Portland never relinquished the lead. During one frenetic sequence, the foes traded baskets on eight consecutive possessions.

The Panthers' Josh Turner, who was named Most Valuable Player, fouled out during that stretch.

"We're deep, man," Broadus said.

With their leader watching from the bench, Portland made 10 of 12 free throws inside the final 2:22.

"We were the underdogs all year," said Turner, who had 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists. "It made us play harder. We had a chip on our shoulder every game.

"Tonight, we just played harder, played together," he added. "We had fun."

Warren Edmondson added 18 points and was part of yet another scorching three-point barrage, making 3 of 4 from beyond the arc. Burly forward Angelo tupper added 17 points and was 4 of 7 from deep, C.J. Easterling had 13 ponts and seven boards, Carl Appleton chipped in 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Channel had 11 points and seven assists.

Portland shot 50 percent from the floor and hit 11 of 19 3-pointers.

"Give all the credit to Portland," said Pierce coach Bill Mendelson. "They hit some big shots. They did a great job."

The first half had the see-saw inelegance of a saloon brawl: Portland exploding to a 30-15 lead with flashes of the long-range shooting stroke that tamed Skagit Valley in Monday's semifinals, Pierce charging back with a 15-0 transition-fueled flurry to tie it, Turner helping to spark a 10-2 Panthers' retort heading into recess.

Turner had 17 and Edmondson 10 for Portland at halftime. Jacobs had 11 and Paul Loranger nine for Pierce.

Portland was 7 for 14 on 3-pointers, the opportunistic Raiders 16 for 26 on 2s. There were five lead changes. Four ties. All just a dizzying prelude.

Edmondson was named to the all-tournament first team, joining Pierce's Chris Parker (18 points Tuesday) and Jacobs (13 points, seven rebounds, six assists), Joseph Stroud of Highline and Edmonds' Payton Pervier.

Second-teamers included Elijah Smith and Malik Barnes of Skagit Valley, Clark's Sean Price, Chemeketa's Bryce White and Chris Willis of Treasure Valley.

Portland's Appleton was named the tourney's Most Inspirational Player.

PIERCE— Gary Jacobs 6-17 1-2 13, Devin Matthews 5-12 1-3 12, David Baze 4-11 0-0 8, Isaac Barsh 2-9 3-4 7, Christopher Parker 7-16 0-0 18, Keaton Corr 0-0 0-0 0, Mark Royster 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Johnson 3-4 0-0 6, David Jeffries 1-3 0-0 2, Paul Loranger 7-9 6-6 20. Totals 35-81 11-15 86.

PORTLAND — Warren Edmondson 5-11 5-7 18, Marcus Bailey 0-1 0-0 0, Tremaine Channel 2-5 5-6 11, Jordan Wood 0-0 0-0 0, Josh Turner 9-18 3-7 23, Anthony Hines II 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Dethlefs 0-0 0-0 0, Carl Appleton 4-7 2-2 10, CJ Easterling 5-8 3-5 13, Angelo Tupper 6-11 1-2 17. Totals 31-61 19-29 92.

Halftime—Portland 44, Pierce 39. 3-point goals—Pierce 5-24 (Parker 4-10, Matthews 1-5, Jacobs 0-5, Baze 0-3, Johnson 0-1), Portland 11-19 (Tupper 4-7, Edmondson 3-4, Channel 2-4, Turner 2-4). Rebounds—Pierce 41 (Matthews 8), Portland 44 (Appleton 10). Assists—Pierce 19 (Matthews 8), Portland 23 (Channel 7). Turnovers—Pierce 9, Portland 15. Fouls—Pierce 21, Portland 15. Fouled out—Turner.

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