PASCO -- Now that we have the preseason out of the way, let's get down to business.
East Region men's and women's basketball play in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges tips off today with doubleheaders at four sites, including Columbia Basin College in Pasco.
The goal for everyone is simple: Try to be among the top four teams in the East standings by the end of the regular season and qualify for the NWAACC tournament, which is again set for the Toyota Center in Kennewick on March 5-8.
The Hawks play host to rival Walla Walla today, with the women's game set for 4 p.m. and the men to follow at 6 p.m.
The women's game should be a donnybrook, with CBC entering play ranked as the top team in the NWAACC with an 11-0 record. Walla Walla, meanwhile, is ranked No. 3 with a 9-2 mark.
Bobbi Hazeltine's Warriors are also defending NWAACC champions.
Cheryl Holden's Hawks, however, are no pushovers.
Holden returns six players from last season's 14-9 squad that made it to the final day of the tournament -- guards Tina Miller (Kamiakin), Trishi Williams (Mabton), Erica Hancock (Middleton, Idaho) and Kylie Rail (Kennewick); and forwards Jorie Freeman (Hanford) and Lauren Walker (East Valley-Yakima).
Miller averages 4.33 assists per game for the Hawks.
Other notables include freshmen guards Reina Malito (Kennewick) and Ana Jimenez (Mabton), and post Tiffany Idler (Columbia-Burbank).
The CBC men, under first-year head coach Rolando Garcia, are off to a slow start with a 3-8 record.
Garcia, who was an assistant the past few seasons for Holden, replaces Lane Schumacher as coach.
The Hawks return six players from last season's team -- guards Roman Pruneda-Garza (East Valley-Yakima), Jordon Poynor (Mt. Spokane), Mark Wilson (Liberty Christian) and Austin Wassmuth (Grangeville, Idaho); and forwards Tyler Peterson (Butte, Mont.) and Jeren Sinsel (Nampa, Idaho).
Pruneda-Garza is ranked eighth in the NWAACC with 24 steals, and 17th in assists with 3.60 per game.
Other notables for the Hawks include guards Zachery Poteet (Grandview), Matt Borup (Riverview Baptist-Pasco), Juan De La Garza (Wahluke); forward Derek Stratton (Liberty Christian); and center Brady Haynes (Hanford).