The first batch of playoffs for the Northwest Athletic Conference kicks off Wednesday with soccer.
Columbia Basin (8-9-1) heads to Willamette University to take on Chemeketa (10-4-2) in a first-round playoff match at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The winner advances to play top-ranked Highline (12-1-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Starfire Field in Tukwila.
First-year coach Joey Graham says his Hawks are ready.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Graham. “I have a real young team. This is huge for the sophomores. All we’ve got to do is play our game. I tell them over and over. We play our game, I feel it’s tough for us to be beat.”
The Hawks are led by freshmen Esteban Ojeda (7 goals, 3 assists) and Cesar Bernal (4 goals, 2 assists).
The Hawks will be facing a hot Chemeketa team today. The Storm has won six consecutive matches.
“They have some pace,” said Graham. “They like to play over the top and get behind the defense. They score goals.”
Walla Walla (9-4-6) , meanwhile, plays host to Southwestern Oregon (7-7-3) at 1 p.m. in another playoff. The winner will play at Peninsula (13-3-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday in a quarterfinal match.
Pasco High grad Emilio Meraz-Rodriguez (9 goals, 7 assists) and Kamiakin grad Jose Anguiano (6 goals, 5 assists) lead the Warriors.
Highline (12-2-1) enters the men’s soccer playoffs ranked No. 1 in the latest NWAC coaches poll.
On the women’s side, there are no area teams involved in the playoffs.
However, Spokane (13-2-1) is already seeded into the quarterfinals and will play Wednesday’s winner of the Everett-Tacoma clash at noon on Saturday in Spokane. Hanford High grad Emily Busselman has six shutouts so far this season as a keeper for the Sasquatch.
Peninsula (19-1) is the top-ranked team in the latest coaches’ poll.
▪ In volleyball, CBC is hanging on for dear life for the East’s No. 4 playoff berth. The Hawks have a 7-5 record with two matches left in the regular season. Wenatchee Valley, meanwhile, is sitting in fifth with a 6-6 mark.
Blue Mountain is the only East Region team so far to clinch a tournament berth. The Timberwolves are ranked second in the latest coaches poll. Chemeketa is ranked No. 1.
The tournament runs from Nov. 19-22 at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center.
Fever makes deal
The Tri-Cities Fever dealt quarterback Jon Wolf to the expansion Minnesota Havok on Tuesday in exchange for defensive back Bradley Njoku.
The deal works out well for the Fever. Wolf had signed earlier this year with the Fever, then found out after the fact that Mankato, Minn., was getting an Indoor Football league team. Wolf told Fever coach Ryan Lingenfelder he wouldn’t report to Fever camp because he wanted to play for the Havok in Mankato — a town where he had just finished his collegiate career.
The Fever get a DB who played his college ball at the University of Idaho, where in 2013 Njoku was the Vandals’ second-leading tackler during his senior season with 89.
Kamiakin’s Gant to give talk
Today at 7 p.m. at the Kamiakin High School library, Kamiakin athletic director Casey Gant will give a free talk on what high school athletes need to do to play college athletics.
Athletic performance is just one part of being able to play sports at the college level. Gant will explain the college sports eligibility requirements of both the NCAA and NAIA levels. Eligibility standards include minimum grade point requirements, specific academic coursework and athlete registration.
Students and parents are welcome to attend. Membership in the Kamiakin High School Booster Club is not required.
▪ On Tuesday, the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association became the first group to come out with a pre-season state high school boys basketball poll, called the Cloud 9 Top 9 (http://wibca.com/cloud-9-top-9/).
The group’s No. 1 teams are Federal Way (Class 4A), Rainier Beach (3A), Clarkston (2A), King’s (1A), Brewster (2B) and Almira-Coulee-Hartline (1B).
Area teams ranked in the polls include Richland (fourth in 4A), Kamiakin (ninth in 3A), Lind-Ritzville (fifth in 2B), Sunnyside Christian (fifth in 1B), and Liberty Christian (seventh in 1B).
The poll will be updated each week, beginning the week of Dec. 7.