SPORTS: Peninsula College men’s and women’s basketball teams set for NWAACC championships
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KENNEWICK — The Peninsula College men’s and women’s basketball teams open NWAACC tournament play Saturday at the Toyota Center.
The men’s team (17-10) battles Tacoma (19-8) at noon while the Pirate women (14-10) play Centralia (21-5) at 2 p.m.
The winners advance to the quarterfinals while the losers move on to the loser-out consolation bracket Sunday.
In men’s action, the Pirates have earned postseason berths in all three years of coach Lance Von Vogt’s tenure.
“Earning a bid to the NWAACC championships is always a great accomplishment, but this season after all of the struggles that we’ve had to overcome on and off the court, it is even more special,” Von Vogt said.
“Our guys know they earned the right to be at this tournament, and they don’t take the accomplishment or our upcoming competition lightly.”
The Pirates won’t be at the tournament just to compete. They are making plans to win it all.
“Our preparation this week will be about putting ourselves into position to win the championship,” Von Vogt said.
“I can guarantee we will leave it all on the floor and let the chips fall where they may.”
NWAACC all-star Xavier Bazile, leading scorer for the Pirates with 18.8 points per game, agrees with his coach that Peninsula can win the title this year.
“It is a great opportunity,” Bazile said about making the tourney.
“We’ve been successful winning both tournaments that we’ve played in this season, so we are comfortable in the tournament format.
“I believe we have the talent and ability to win it. We look forward to bringing back a championship to Peninsula.”
Djuan Smith, also an NWAACC all-star, also is looking forward to playing in the tourney this weekend.
“Our mind is in the right place,” Smith said.
“Coach is going to give us a great game plan and we are going to execute it.
“Four games in four days is a challenge, but we truly feel like we are up to it.”
Saturday’s winner between Peninsula and Tacoma advances to the quarterfinals between the Chemeketa-Walla Walla winner at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The semifinals are set for Monday and the championship is scheduled for Tuesday at 8 p.m.
The Peninsula women, meanwhile, probably will be without superstar Taylor Larson, who has a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament.
Larson is the all-time leading scorer for the Pirates and the NWAACC co-MVP.
It doesn’t help that the Pirates, who took fourth place in the North Division, will be going against West Division champion Centralia in the first round.
Saturday’s winner moves on to play the firt-round winner between Lane (26-2) and Yakima Valley (16-11).
Lane of Eugene, Ore., is the top-ranked NWAACC women’s team.
Last modified: February 28. 2013 5:57PM