by Quinn Welsch
The pressure is on for Whatcom Community College’s men’s and women’s basketball teams since the Feb 25 games against North Seattle Community COllege. It was their last home game this season.
The men’s team is the Northwest Athletic Association of Community College’s North’s Division champs and holds a number one spot in the NWAACC tournament.
The men’s current record is an all time high for Orca’s basketball. The team stands at 15-1 in the division and is neck and neck with Clark College from Vancouver. Their total season record is 22-3, and Clark’s is 24-2.
The men’s win over Bellevue on Feb 15 confirmed their spot in the NWACC tournament. Men’s coach Chris Scrimsher said it’s their goal to be ranked in the NWAACC’s top four each season. Scrimsher said their success is due to an extraordinary amount of effort put into sport and community.
Scrimsher said success is not because of a change in practice from last season, but rather a core of leadership amidst the players. Guards Will Perry, Pat Vouet, Evan Coulter, and Derek Dickerson have been major contributors to the game. Scrimsher says power forward Marcus Bagnerise has also been a factor in the Orca’s success this season.
“Their experience directed the team this season,” Scrimsher said, adding that the team overall has been an outstanding one. “No one person is more important than the next.”
The women’s team has also been making waves. Women’s head coach, Sarah Bergner, who took the team to divisional playoffs last season said they are only one win down from last year. The women’s team is currently tied with Peninsula and ranked number four in the division. If Peninsula loses to Bellevue, the women’s team will be number three.
Bergner said the team is primarily a freshman team this season, but that she is pleased to see many of them stepping up on the court.
Seattle’s head coach, Rebecca Valdivia, said the Orcas have some major advantages over other teams. Valdivia says the women’s team is a much taller team then them, but that they are also a highly athletic team.
The women’s team also plays a much more defensive game. “A lot of our practices are about getting down and dirty on our defense,” said Bergner.
“They work really hard, and they execute. That’s a playoff team,” said Valdivia.
Besides turning heads on the court, the men’s and women’s team have made contributions to the community by reaching out to children from Shuksan Middle School. Bagnerise said it was the first time the basketball teams had done anything like that. The men’s and women’s teams also reached out to students in the area by hosting a Big Brothers Big Sisters event on campus.
Despite two games a week, practices in between each game, being on the road, working jobs, and doing homework, the teams have both managed to come out on top this year.
“They continue to work hard,” said Scrimsher, “They’ve been going strong since October.”
“This is a very special team that only comes around once in a while,” said Scrimsher. “They’re a fun group to watch and it’s been a pleasure to coach them. They’ve been great representatives of Whatcom Community College.”
The NWAACC tournament will be held at the Toyota Center in Kennewick on March 3-6.