The Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament kicks off Thursday – the women on Saturday – at Everett Community College, and the local teams are poised to make some noise through this weekend and into next, when the brackets are trimmed to the respective Final Fours.
The NWAC has modeled this year’s tournament similar to the popular NCAAs, playing a true single elimination without consolation or third-place games, as it marches down from the Sweet 16 this weekend until the championship games on March 19.
North Idaho (25-4) earned the top seed from the East Region and will face West No. 4 Tacoma at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The Cardinals are led by Markus Golder, who averages 19.3 points and 6.5 rebounds and Sam Dowd (Gonzaga Prep) at 17.8 ppg, 7.1 assists.
Defending champion CC Spokane (23-6) finished second in the East and will take on West No. 3 seed Lower Columbia at 10 p.m. Levi Taylor (Lewis and Clark) leads the Sasquatch, averaging 20.1 points and 5.0 rebounds.
Four others average double-digit points, and CCS is second in the conference in rebounding, though it doesn’t have an individual in the top 20. Garrett Hull averages 13.2 points and leads the team in assists, rebounds and steals.
Taylor was named to the East Region first team, while Hull and Cesar Sandoval (14.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg) were named to the second team.
The teams are in opposite sides of the bracket and could not meet until the title game.
The Sasquatch (23-4) tied Walla Walla atop the East Region but took top seed via tiebreaker.
CCS takes on South No. 4 seed Linn-Benton at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the Sweet 16 round. Bri King (North Central) is sixth in the league in scoring (20 ppg) and earned Eastern Region MVP and was named to the all-defensive team.
Katlyn Summers-Ward (Priest River) is second in scoring (10.9) and leads the team in rebounding at 7.7. Summers-Ward was named to the East Region second team.
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