PASCO -- The Columbia Basin College women's basketball team lost its chance to go undefeated when it lost at Walla Walla on Feb. 2 by a 65-49 score.
That's OK with CBC coach Cheryl Holden.
"We have the target off our back," said Holden, whose 20-1 squad plays host to Yakima Valley at 4 p.m. today in an East Region game. "One of the things everybody was saying to us is, 'You haven't lost.' Now we can just play and not have to worry about that."
The team's attitude, Holden says, hasn't changed.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"We have taken it all year just one game at a time," she said. "We've never looked at the second or third game out. They also know they didn't shoot the ball well that night at Walla Walla. Everybody is going to bring their best game against us."
The Hawks have clinched an NWAACC tournament berth with a 9-1 East Region record, but four games remain in the regular season.
"We're going to take it one game at a time, and the (team's) goal is to win the Eastern Region," Holden said.
Whatever happens, the Hawks must go the rest of the way without a few key players.
Guard Tina Miller has been out all season because of a stress fracture in her leg. Guard Erica Hancock is out with a fractured hip. And on Tuesday, guard Kylie Rail went down with a torn ACL in practice.
"That's three of our six sophomores," Holden said. "That was what was one of our strong points. We need some people to step up. It hurts that depth we have."
The Hawks men will play host to YVC at 6 p.m. today in a key game for both teams.
Big Bend leads the East Region standings at 9-1, and Spokane is second at 7-3. But four teams -- Blue Mountain, Wenatchee Valley, Walla Walla and YVC -- are tied for third at 5-5, and CBC is next at 4-6.
Only the top four teams advance to the NWAACC tournament. Reaching that tournament has been one of the Hawks' major goals.
"(Tonight's game) is what I've considered the past few games as -- a must-win," CBC coach Rolando Garcia said. "Our region is one of the tougher regions. I was talking to (Walla Walla coach Jeff) Reinland the other night. He's so right -- on any given night, any team can win."
Garcia has liked the recent play of Mitchell Jones Jr. and Jeren Sinsel, but "the last couple of games, we've relied on Daniel Igbinoba. He's had some very productive minutes."