North Idaho College’s basketball teams face different paths as they try to advance to their respective NJCAA tournaments.
The 19th-ranked NIC women (23-6) tied for second in the Scenic West Athletic Conference but lost the tiebreaker to College of Southern Idaho. Third-seeded NIC faces No. 6 Colorado Northwestern in a first-round Region 18 tournament game today at College of Eastern Utah in Price. If NIC wins, it’ll face No. 2 Southern Idaho in Friday’s semifinals.
In today’s other opener, No. 5 Eastern Utah meets No. 4 Snow. The winner advances to the semifinals against top-seeded and fifth-ranked Salt Lake.
“It’s wide open,” NIC coach Chris Carlson said. “Salt Lake has been in the top five in the nation most of the year and they’ve lost to three teams in the league – Snow, Southern Idaho and us.”
Freshman forward Tugce Canitez leads the Cardinals at 15.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Freshman wing Kama Griffitts, a Coeur d’Alene High product, averages 15.1 points.
The regional champ earns an automatic berth to the NJCAA tournament in Salina, Kan.
It’s a different scenario for the NIC men, who won the SWAC title outright for the second straight year. The Region 18 champion will face a play-in game against Region 1 (Arizona) to qualify for nationals.
The sixth-ranked Cardinals (26-4) have a bye into the Region 18 tournament semifinals. They’ll open Friday against the winner of today’s No. 4 Southern Idaho/No. 5 Snow matchup. No. 2 Eastern Utah awaits the winner of No. 3 Salt Lake/No. 6 Colorado Northwestern.
“We have as good a chance as anyone, but there are going to be some dogfights,” said NIC coach Jared Phay, whose team went 2-2 against Eastern Utah and Salt Lake. “We have a well-balanced, hard-working, unselfish group.”
Forward Renado Parker averages a team-leading 13.7 ppg and Michael Hale contributes 12.1 points and 4.1 assists for NIC. Parker and guard Idell Bell, who averages 9.4 ppg, have signed with Idaho. Taylor Stevens (8.8 ppg) has committed to Seattle University.
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