Tourney play starts for Lane
Both the Titans’ men and women have first-round games today
By Chris Hansen
The Lane Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams begin postseason play today with first-round games in the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament taking place at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash.
Both teams will have to overcome some adversity if they want to still be playing on Tuesday when the championship games conclude the 16-team tournament.
The Lane men (18-10) are the No. 2 seed out of the NWAC’s South Region and will play Everett (17-12), the North Region’s No. 3 seed, today at 10 p.m.
“It’s a pretty weird deal playing that late,” Lane coach Bruce Chavka said with a laugh. “But we’ll make the best of it for sure.”
The Titans will be at full strength with the return of freshman guard Malik Leaks, who has missed eight games with a severely sprained ankle.
Leaks is the second-leading scorer on the team at 13.5 points per game.
Lane has won five of its past six games and is 16-5 since big men Tre Clark (6-6 forward) and Aaron Smith (6-6 forward) joined the team in mid-December.
“We’re pretty excited, pretty confident,” Chavka said. “I’ve preached that this is going to be a four-day bar fight. We gotta show up and compete. We came to play four games.”
As did the Lane women (22-7), who knows better than anyone what it takes to survive the tournament.
The Titans are in their 14th straight NWAC tournament and have won four titles since 2006. Their last championship win was in 2013.
“We’re looking forward to this,” Lane coach Greg Sheley said. “The good thing is I don’t think there is a clear-cut favorite this year. If we can shoot it and find a way to get some easy buckets, we should have a chance to win a game or two.”
The Titans, also the No. 2 seed from the South Region, will play Skagit Valley, the North Region’s No. 3 seed, at noon.
Lane beat Skagit Valley 54-44 on Dec. 6.
The Titans have one of the best all-round players in freshman center Jordan Kimbrough, who is fifth in the NWAC in scoring (18.03), second in rebounding (10.9) and third in blocks (2.38).
However, Lane will be without sophomore forward Carmen Wright, who broke her thumb in practice last week. Wright was averaging nearly 10 points a game.