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Chemeketa men’s basketball wins NWAACC championship

By Chemeketa Public Affairs

Men's basketball champions

Photo by Tracy Swisher/NWAACC

No second place in Kennewick this year.

Last season, Chemeketa Community College’s men’s basketball team finished as the runners-up in the  Northwest Athletic Association of Community College’s (NWAACC) basketball tournament.

“They were happy they accomplished that, but they didn’t like the feeling of finishing second,” head coach David Abderhalden said. “So it was a huge motivator for them in the off-season. I didn’t need to do a whole lot of motivating.”

Apparently not. During this season’s tournament at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash., the Storm rallied from behind multiple times, including from 21 points with less than seven minutes to play in the semifinals, to claim the 2012-2013 NWAACC championship.

Unlike the NCAA’s championship tournament, the entire NWAACC basketball postseason is held in a tight timeframe. To win the tournament, Chemeketa had to win four games in four consecutive days. Abderhalden said the Storm’s depth — with nine or more players playing double-digit minutes each game — is benefical with the physical demands of the championship tournament.

“That mentality, actually, I think is very conducive to four games in four days,” Abderhalden said. “We’re not relying on three or four guys to carry the load.”

The teamwork came into play in the semifinal game on March 4, when the Storm trailed the Big Bend Community College by 21 with 6:30 to go.  But back came Chemeketa. Aggressive defense, clutch shooting, and bench players helping to keep the team focused in timeouts all resulted in the Storm rallying for a 66-65 win.

“In a situation like that, so many things have to just fall into place,” Abderhalden said. “There wasn’t any one thing.”

The championship run was completed with a 84-79 win over Edmonds Community College on March 5. Chemeketa finished the season with a 21-8 record.

“They really had a singleness of purpose,” Abderhalden said. “They were all about winning. They really didn’t care who scored or who did this or who got headlines. As long as we won, everyone was truly excited…they learned how to face adversity head-on and attack it.”

In individual player honors, forward Trevor Phillips (Freshman, Hermiston) was named the NWAACC Southern Region’s Most Valuable Player, wing Gavin Kauffman (Sophomore, Foster) was named a first-team all-star and guard Jacob Begin (Sophomore, Tillamook) was named to the all-defensive team. Abderhalden was named the region’s Coach of the Year.

It was also a successful season for the women’s team. The Storm made the NWAACC Final Four and finished with a record of 18-13. Chemeketa was the only college to have both its men’s and women’s team make the Final Four.

Guard Jordan Klebaum (Sophomore, Oregon City) was named a Southern Region first-team all-star and Hannah Frederick (Sophomore, Dallas) was named a second-team all-star and named to the all-defensive team.

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