By Jake Knight
Whatcom Community College’s men’s and women’s basketball teams both earned victories Feb. 5 against the Skagit Valley Community College teams. The men’s win, coupled with the latest 64-63 win at Edmonds Community College, gave the men’s team a record of 8-2 in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) Northern Region and 15-5 overall.
The women’s team also won against Edmonds with a score of 70-50, making their record 9-1 in the Northern Region and 13-7 overall. Both teams are tied for the lead in the region.
The men’s team, coached by David Dunham, excels on offense with the 6’4’’ sophomore guard Kyle Impero leading the NWAACC in points-per-game at an average of 30.15, and fellow sophomore Eric Fongue in second for three-point percentage at 47.4 percent, with 27 out of 57 three-point shots made.
This season’s starting team is made up entirely of returning sophomores with Alex Duncan, Neilan Pierce and Jared Wells filling important roles on the starting team.
“Duncan is a very smart player, who is the leader on the court. He’s a very good shooter and a very good passer,” Dunham said. He added that Jared plays with intensity, and “he’s our glue,” while “Pierce brings toughness” and dependability to the team.
This is a team that emphasizes playing solid basketball, “taking smart shots and playing under control,” Dunham said. “Our goal is to be very efficient on offense and let our defense fuel that.”
Players described Dunham as a players’ coach. “He was a player, he went pretty far and he was pretty good back in his day,” Impero said. “He understands what it’s like to be a player. He gives a lot of freedom.”
“I see this team has the potential to win it all,” Dunham said. “This is a very special group. This is a very, very select few.”
In the game against Skagit Valley, Impero led the team scoring 40 points, with nine rebounds, two assists and three steals.
“It’d be nice to have fans, more fans than we have,” Wells said. “I’m not really too picky,” as long as students come to watch the games. Fongue said students who attend will “have a great time.”
The Whatcom women’s basketball team has a five game win-streak, and they could make it to the NWAACC Championship Tournament this season. “We’re almost there. We have to qualify for the tournament, but if we do I think this team has a definite chance to do some damage over there,” Bergner said.
Of the win against Skagit Valley freshman captain Kortney Grattic said, “It’s a big win, it was one of our goals at the beginning of the season.” Grattic and Kayla Tiemersma led the team with 17 points each. Grattic also led with 12 rebounds.
Grattic also is in fourth for points-per-game in the NWAACC with an average of 19.40, while Alisha Friberg is in second in three-point percentage with 43.1 percent. She has made 31 out of 72 three-pointers this season.
Grattic said that the team’s strength is in their defense. “Once [we] start rolling on defense I feel like our offense kind of comes in and ties it together,” she said.
Despite the success the team has had this season they’ve had to overcome obstacles such as being a fairly young team, Grattic said. There are only two players returning from last year, forward Nathalie Gruber and guard Alisha Friberg.
“Since this is a group of young new faces, we just really needed to get to know each other and see what we’ve learned from each school we’ve come from,” Grattic said.
The Whatcom women’s basketball team has their next game at home in the Pavilion gym against Olympic Community College at 5 p.m. Wed. Feb. 12. Whatcom’s men’s basketball team will also play Olympic at 7 p.m.