Alex Kirk’s Clark College basketball team will definitely be the favorite in this weekend’s Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges men’s basketball championships, set for Saturday through Tuesday in the Toyota Center.
The former Prosser High standout has coached his team to a No. 1 men’s poll position for most of this season.
At 24-1, the Penguins have been rarely challenged this season.
Colin Spickerman (Jesuit, Portland; 18.2 points, 9.5 rebounds) was the West Region MVP, while teammate Sean Price (Columbia River; 19.2 points) was a first-team all-star.
Max Livingston (Lake Oswego, Ore.) is another standout for Clark, which opens play at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Here’s a look at the rest of the tournament field:
Big Bend (21-7). Sophomore guard Brendan Westendorf (Kentridge) is worth the price of admission alone, as he has a number of moves to score. He averaged 29.9 points a game to lead the entire NWAACC and was named the East Region MVP. He also averages 8.6 rebounds. Victor Aguero (Central Catholic) and Kevin Walker (Rexburg, Idaho; 2.36 steals) are other standouts. Bryce Perez (Moses Lake) and Joe Timofeyev (Moses Lake Christian) are local connections.
Pierce (20-6). Coach Bill Mendelson went to Las Vegas and grabbed four players. Five players average in double-figure scoring, led by Gary Jacobs (Sierra Vista, Las Vegas) at 11.9 points. Jacobs, Devin Matthews (Durango, Las Vegas; 7.6 assists) and Chris Parker (Suffolk, Va.) are the team’s leaders.
Treasure Valley (18-8). Head coach Ryan Zimmerman, the East Region coach of the year, has recruited high and low to put together his team, which finished atop the East Region standings. The players hail from five states and Canada. John Fletcher (San Diego) averages 17.7 points, while DeSean Mattox (Phoenix, Arix.) averages 16.1. Both are all-stars. Chris Willis (Oxnard, Calif.) and Skyler Burgess (Riverton, Utah) are other standouts.
Whatcom (18-6). Kyle Impero (Nooksack) averages 29.7 points per game and is the North Region MVP. The former state Class 1A high school player of the year redshirted his freshman year at Western Washington University before spending the past two seasons with the Orcas. Alex Duncan (Boise), Eric Fongue (Zurich) and Neilan Pierce (Squalicum) also helped North Region coach of the year David Dunham win the division crown.
Clackamas (16-11): Tim Lott (Marshall, Portland; 16.1 points) is this team’s standout, as he was named a first-team South Region all-star. Spencer Bankofier (Clackamas, Ore.; 5.0 assists), Grant Sitton (Prairie) and Ezekiel Martin (Milwaukee) are other standouts.
Highline (20-7). First-team West all-star Doug McDaniel (Killeen, Texas) is the team’s leading scorer at 16.2 points a game. Joe Stroud (Rainier Beach) and Isom Brown (Curtis) also lead the way.
Portland (19-9). Tony Broadous was co-coach of the year in the South, as he led his team to the school’s first trip to the tournament. Waren Edmondson (Evergreen-Vancouver) is the standout, while Josh Turner (Clackamas; 16.3 points) and Carl Appleton (Central Catholic) provide a strong supporting cast.
Skagit Valley (18-9). Head coach Brock Veltri also has four players from Las Vegas. But leading scorer Malik Barnes, averaging 12.8 points, hails from Ingraham High of Seattle. He’s a first-team North all-star. Elijah Smith (Las Vegas; 2.24 assists) and Olajuwon Diggs (Las Vegas) provide support.
Southwestern Oregon (21-7). DJ Anderson (North Las Vegas; 18.6 points) and Dexter Williams Jr. (Honolulu; 19.4 points) are a potent 1-2 punch for the school located in Coos Bay. South co-coach Trevor Hoppe also depends on LaDarrell Mongkholtham (North Las Vegas).
Bellevue (17-10). Kennewick High fans may follow the Bulldogs because Lions grad Reggie Clinton is on this team, and he averages 5.9 points. Austin O’Keefe (Jackson of Everett) leads the team in scoring at 18.2 points and is a first-team North all-star
Chemeketa (14-13). Bryce White (Benson Tech, Portland; 27.8 points) was the South MVP and freshman of the year. He gets support from Jalen Schlagel (West Albany, Ore.; 9.3 rebounds) and Kevin Brazile (Grants Pass, Ore.).
Columbia Basin (16-10). Head coach Rolando Garcia gets the hometown Hawks back into the tournament for the first time since 2009. Stephen Walter (Chiawana; 16.3 points) is a first-team East all-star, while Andrew Reddout (Granger) has played well too. James Lopez (Eisenhower; 5.5 assists) runs the offense.
Edmonds (17-10). Seven-foot center Payton Pervier (Glacier Peak; 20.5 points, 15.4 rebounds) is a first-team North all-star, while Zach Pederson (Glacier Peak), Badhasa Margarsa (Nathan Hale) and Mitch Pohlran (Glacier Peak) provide support.
Lower Columbia (11-14). Only team in the tournament with a losing record, Cameron Howell (Curtis; 10.8 points) is the team’s top player.
Spokane (17-11). Kwinn Hanson (Northwest Christian; 23.1 points) is the Sasquatch’s best player, but Chase Haack (Ferris) and TJ Bracey (Gonzaga Prep) provide support.
Four-day tournament pass
Adult $35; Student, seniors (60 and over), staff and military $20; Child (ages 7-12) $15; Child 6 and under free.
Adult $13; Student, seniors (60 and over), staff and military $7; Child (ages 7-12) $5; Child 6 and under free.