The Northwest Athletic Conference Basketball Championships begin Thursday at the Walt Price Student Fitness Center on the campus of Everett Community College. Two local teams, the Edmonds men and the Everett men, qualified for the tournament. Here’s a capsule look at each team:
Seed: North No. 2
First round opponent: West No. 3 Centralia (19-10)
Game time: 8 a.m., Thursday
Coach: Kyle Gray
Top players: Freshman guard Sean Kirk (18.5 points per game, 17.8 rebounds per game), sophomore guard Drew Magaoay (18.7 points per game), sophomore guard Thomas Doyle (10.5 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 5.0 assists per game, 2.7 steals per game)
Outlook: Edmonds is making its second consecutive NWAC tournament appearance, having lost to Linn-Benton 81-72 in the opening round last year. The Tritons come into the tournament having won three straight and ranked No. 8 in the final NWAC coaches poll. Edmonds is a perimeter-oriented team, with the trio of Kirk, Magaoay and Doyle more adept at slashing than shooting from long distance.
In Centralia the Tritons face a familiar foe, as the teams split two meetings during the regular season — Edmonds won 89-80 in overtime on Dec. 1 at Centralia, and Centralia won 82-78 on Dec. 29 in Oregon City, Oregon. The Trailblazers, a defensively stingy team, are led by sophomore forward Marqus Gilson’s 19.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
Seed: North No. 1
First round opponent: West No. 4 Lower Columbia (18-10)
Game time: 8 p.m., Thursday
Coach: Mike Trautman
Top players: Sophomore guard Markieth Brown Jr. (26.1 points per game, 4.0 3-pointers per game), freshman forward Magnus Jespersen (11.6 points per game, 13.4 rebounds per game), sophomore guard Tori Odom (12.1 points per game, 5.1 rebounds per game)
Outlook: Everett, No. 4 in the final NWAC coaches poll, is in the midst of the greatest stretch in program history. The Trojans won consecutive North Region championships for the first time, and this season Everett went undefeated in region play for the first time. Last year the Trojans reached the quarterfinals of the NWAC tournament, losing a wild 112-110 double-overtime game to eventual NWAC champion North Idaho. This season the Trojans are the third-highest scoring team in NWAC at 93.2 points per game, with Brown leading the way as the league’s second-highest scorer.
Lower Columbia will try to slow Everett down as it is one of the best defensive teams in the league, allowing just 70.6 points per game and 39.8-percent shooting from the floor.
Sophomore guard Seth Hall leads the Red Devils in scoring at 14.8 points per game.