There are a lot of things to do at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, most of them involving sleep.
It rarely ever involves playing basketball at a high level, but that’s what awaits the Columbia Basin College women today when they open the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges championship tournament at the Toyota Center in Kennewick.
The Hawks will take on Chemeketa.
CBC won this tournament a year ago, but that was with a completely different roster. Only KieOsha Avery-Winchester returns from last season’s title team.
The rest of the team consists of freshmen.
Throw in the fact that the Hawks enter the tournament with the most losses among the 16 teams with 12 of them, and it would be easy for you to believe coach Cheryl Holden’s squad won’t be a factor in this event.
And you would be wrong.
Like the previous two Holden-coached teams, these Hawks are running on all cylinders — both on and off the court.
“I have high expectations,” Holden said. “I expected us to make the tournament. When you look at a roster full of freshmen you don’t know what you’re going to get. I knew they worked hard and they kept getting better.”
Indeed. CBC started the season at 1-5, which included losses to Lane, Clackamas and North Idaho — all strong teams this year.
“At that point, I was thinking ‘Crap, this is gonna be a long year,’” said Kelsey Yenney. “But by that last preseason tournament we were doing so well.”
“It was good for this team because it prepared them for the East region schedule,” she said.
A key may have been Avery-Winchester, who as the lone sophomore had to get to know a whole bunch of new teammates.
“It was really tough being the only one coming back,” she said. “They didn’t know each other and I didn’t know them. It was hard because I was the only sophomore and they looked to me for leadership. Coach got involved, and we just set up some team events. A lot of the girls already lived together. And we’re all living in the same area, so we hang out together.”
Maybe it wasn’t always the whole 15 on the roster at the same time. But everyone started making sure that when someone went for ice cream, or to the Olive Garden, everyone on the team was invited.
And it began well before the season started, when classes began in late September.
“We all came in and didn’t know anybody in college, so we would just cling together,” said Yenney.
Now? They wouldn’t have it any other way.
After a 4-8 preseason start, the Hawks went 10-4 to finish second in the East Region. A new Ratings Percentage Index the NWAACC is using has them ranked fifth overall.
No one made first-team All-East, but Hannah Depew was a second-teamer and all-defensive, Sierra Higheagle was a second-teamer, and Alicia Jones was all-defensive.
“I like that we don’t have one set offensive player,” said Jones. “Everybody contributes as a team. It’s not a selfish group.”
So bring on the 8 a.m. game today — something the team has been girding for with 6 a.m. practices this week.
“We’re ready,” said Avery-Winchester. “Any time of the day. Once you get inside the gym, the lights look the same.”
Men’s tournament, Toyota Center
Game 1, Centralia vs. Whatcom, 8 a.m.; Game 2, Big Bend vs. South 4, 10 a.m.; Game 3, Peninsula vs. Tacoma, noon; Game 4, Chemeketa vs. Walla Walla, 2 p.m.; Game 5, Clackamas vs. Yakima Valley, 4 p.m.; Game 6, Edmonds vs. Lower Columbia, 6 p.m.; Game 7, Everett vs. Pierce, 8 p.m.; Game 8, Southwestern Oregon vs. Spokane, 10 p.m.
Sunday’s scheduleGame 9, loser 1 vs. loser 2 (loser out), 8 a.m.; Game 10, loser 3 vs. loser 4 (loser out), 10 a.m.; Game 13, winner 1 vs. winner 2, noon; Game 14, winner 3 vs. winner 4, 2 p.m.; Game 15, winner 5 vs. winner 6, 4 p.m.; Game 16, winner 7 vs. winner 8, 6 p.m.; Game 11, loser 5 vs. loser 6 (loser out), 8 p.m.; Game 12, loser 7 vs. loser 8 (loser out), 10 p.m.
Women’s tournament, Toyota Center
Game 1, Chemeketa vs. Columbia Basin, 8 a.m.; Game 2, Bellevue vs. Tacoma, 10 a.m.; Game 3, Lane vs. Yakima Valley, noon; Game 4, Centralia vs. Peninsula, 2 p.m.; Game 5, Lower Columbia vs. Skagit Valley, 4 p.m.; Game 6, Southwestern Oregon vs. Walla Walla, 6 p.m.; Game 7, Clackamas vs. Spokane, 8 p.m.; Game 8, Clark vs. Whatcom, 10 p.m.
Game 9, loser 1 vs. loser 2 (loser out), 8 a.m.; Game 10, loser 3 vs. loser 4 (loser out), 10 a.m.; Game 13, winner 1 vs. winner 2, noon; Game 14, winner 3 vs. winner 4, 2 p.m.; Game 15, winner 5 vs. winner 6, 4 p.m.; Game 16, winner 7 vs. winner 8, 6 p.m.; Game 11, loser 5 vs. loser 6 (loser out), 8 p.m.; Game 12, loser 7 vs. loser 8 (loser out), 10 p.m.
Tournament passes, which can be purchased at the box office, are: $31 for adults; $25 for students, seniors (60 and older) and military; $18 for children ages 7-12; and children 6 and under are admitted free.
Single-day tickets are: $11 for adults; $7 for students, seniors (60 and older) and military; $5 for children ages 7-12; and children 6 and under are admitted free.