KENNEWICK — The top-ranked Columbia Basin College women's basketball team got off to a fast start at the Northwest Athletic Association of Community College's championship tournament Saturday at Toyota Center, cruising to a 75-63 win over Tacoma.
It was such a good start, CBC coach Cheryl Holden was looking for things to criticize. It was tough, but she came up with one.
"I wasn't happy with the way we boxed out in our zone defense," she said. "But then, we don't play that much zone defense."
The Hawks (26-2) just looked that good.
"I just thought we were so balanced tonight," Holden said.
CBC will have to be that way today, as it faces No. 4-ranked Clackamas -- which beat Bellevue 74-65 in the first round -- at 2 p.m. today in the quarterfinals.
For the Hawks, Jennifer Noon -- a 5-foot-10 center from Central Point, Ore., who was named the East Region MVP this season -- led CBC with a game-high 27 points and seven rebounds.
Columbia-Burbank graduate Tiffany Idler added 16 points, seven rebounds and four steals, while Lacey Young had 13 points to help the Hawks.
But it might have been freshman point guard Katherine Samuels who had the best game for CBC.
She grabbed seven rebounds to go with her five points. She officially was credited with nine assists -- although some of the media had her for 11.
Samuels took to pushing the Hawks all game against the Titans (12-14), and she continually found her teammates slipping behind Tacoma's players for easy baskets.
"We want to transition every time we can," Samuels said. "We feel comfortable doing that. And that's what I'm mainly looking for. I'm trying to get the ball to the open player."
Samuels, from Lapwai, Idaho, wasn't really ready for Saturday's tournament opener.
"I was really nervous," she said. "My hands were really sweaty before the game. Coach told me to take a couple of minutes to myself and relax. It took a couple of runs down the court, and I was OK."
She never looked the nervous part.
In fact, it was her 3-point field goal that keyed an early 7-0 CBC run that gave the Hawks control of the game.
With the game knotted at 4-all, a basket by Noon, the trey by Samuels -- both baskets were assisted by sophomore Ana Jimenez -- and an Idler offensive rebound and putback gave CBC an 11-4 lead.
Tacoma could never catch up with the Hawks after that.
"I think for the first game at the NWAACCs, we did pretty well," said Idler. "(Tacoma wasn't) very tall, so we were trying to get the ball inside."
It worked for Noon, who took advantage of height mismatches inside and scored 16 first-half points as CBC led 36-26 at intermission.
"But honestly, we were mostly concentrating on playing our defense," Noon said.
And that worked, too.
For the game, the Hawks forced 21 Tacoma turnovers and rolled them into 25 points. In comparison, CBC had 17 turnovers, but the Titans could only convert them into 12 points.
If Tacoma had any idea about closing the gap in the second half, Idler, Noon and Young squelched it by combining to outscore the Titans on a 12-4 run early in the half.
Holden continued to rotate her players, and the Hawks won easily.
Claire Swayze led Tacoma with 16 points, while Jasmine Scott and Angelina Wagar-Sanchez had 13 each.
The Titans will play Bellevue at 8 a.m. today in a loser-out contest.
Walla Walla 61, Pierce 46: Tai Jensen and Sienna Edmunson both achieved double-doubles as Walla Walla cruised to victory against Pierce
Jensen grabbed 18 boards to go with her 10 points, and Edmunson had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Warriors.
Yakima Valley 80, Clark 70: Simone Jordan had 28 points and Brittney Newcomb had 26 as Yakima Valley beat Clark College.
Clackamas 74, Bellevue 65: Jenny Johnson had 27 points for Clackamas in the first-round win.
Kelsey Sparks and TyShana Burgess scored 19 points apiece for Bellevue.
Skagit Valley 94, Umpqua 74: Brittany Gray had 30 points and Sophia Baetz provided 29 more as Skagit Valley extended an 11-point halftime lead into a victory over Umpqua.
Deanna Tupai's 23 points and 10 rebounds was the highlight of the Riverhawks' attack.
Lane 88, Peninsula 71: Kersey Wilcox scored 23 points to lead four Lane players in double digits in a win against Peninsula.
Blue Mountain 72, Centralia 56: Makayla McKay had 27 points and eight rebounds to guide Blue Mountain to victory against Centralia.
Ali Campbell and Sabra Sproul had 14 points apiece for the Trailblazers.