By Justin Busby
Whatcom men’s basketball continues their impressive pre-season form with their eighth win in nine games against Olympic College while the women’s team offensive efficiency makes them one of the most dangerous scoring teams in the conference.
The men came into the year with a successful 8-3 pre-season looking to hit the ground running.
The team is off to a better start than their championship run team from last year that featured returning players Leif Anderson, Deon Thomas, Quinn Daugharty and 7-foot center Logan Schilder, who now plays for the Vikings at Western.
The gap created by Schilder’s departure, however, has been successfully filled by returning player Daulton Lootens, who was 3-of-3 from 3-point range, as well as freshman forward Austin Honeycutt, putting up 13 points each and collecting a combined 11 rebounds in the 103-78 win over Everett.
The game also featured an all-around performance from the team’s leading scorer Leif Anderson with 14 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds, and a standout game from Alex Martin who made 22 points in just 29 ½ minutes of action to help the orca’s reach their first 100-point game of the season.
With only four players returning, most of the players are experiencing college ball for the first time. Not head coach Tom Rawlings though who is returning to Whatcom basketball after a two-year break.
Rawlings, who assisted the team for six years prior to his break, rejoined with Whatcom after head coach David Dunham accepted an assistant coaching position at Western. Dunham led the Orcas to two playoff berths in his three years as head coach as well as a North division co-champion title and Orca’s best finish in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) tournament second place.
Rawlings attributes the team’s early success to the elements that have stayed constant from last season, like assistant coach Mike Wade.
“…A big key to the success so far is Mike’s (Wade) connection with the guys because he was here last year during the NWAC tournament run,” Coach Rawlings said, “The beauty of having Mike here is that he knows these guys, and they respect him. It was a good transition for me.”