Edmonds College’s Naser Motley works around the last defender on his way to a fast break layup against Everett Community College on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at Seaview Gym in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Edmonds College’s Naser Motley works around the last defender on his way to a fast break layup against Everett Community College on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, at Seaview Gym in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Tritons race past Trojans in key NWAC men’s hoops battle

Edmonds scores an important victory over Everett in the hotly-contested North Region.

LYNNWOOD — There are no nights off in Northwest Athletic Conference North Region men’s basketball this season.

The region is a dogfight, with seven of the eight teams worthy of earning one of the region’s four NWAC tournament berths. The teams are bunched so tightly that the identity of the top four can change drastically on any given game night.

Which makes the Edmonds College Tritons’ T-Trophy victory Wednesday night all the more valuable.

Edmonds used quick starts at the beginning of each half to play downhill all game long, and the Tritons topped the archrival Everett Community College Trojans 85-71 at Seaview Gymnasium on the campus of Edmonds College.

Edmonds’ backcourt duo of Chris Lee and Naser Motley dictated play, as Lee posted a strong all-around line of 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Mariner High School graduate Motley scored and efficient 20 on 7 of 9 shooting from the field and 6 of 7 from the free-throw line.

”Every game matters at this point,” said Lee, last season’s second-leading scorer who’s provided a big boost since making his season debut just before the start of region play. “We have to come in, do our job and play these teams as hard as we can.

“I think we played well tonight,” Lee added. “It was a great atmosphere. I think we rose up to the pressure, rose up to the energy. We got some shots falling and we moved the ball a lot.”

Shorecrest High School product Jack Sims added 10 points and five boards for Edmonds (15-8 overall, 5-3 league), which went 13 deep and therefore was able to maintain a high level of defensive intensity throughout. The victory gave the Tritons a season sweep over the Trojans.

“Oh my gosh, this was definitely huge,” Edmonds coach Kyle Gray said about the victory. “The North is just unbelievable right now. It is so hard, every night is going to be a fight. So any time you can get these wins you take them, especially on your home floor. And to sweep Everett was big.”

Raefe McEnroe led Everett (14-8, 4-4) with 14 points and six rebounds. Derek Smith, Arlington High School graduate Ethan Martin and Mariner grad Jailin Johnson each added 11 points for the Trojans.

”Credit to Edmonds, they came out and played really well, they made things really tough on us tonight,” Everett coach Daniel Thompson said. “Offensively we couldn’t find any rhythm or flow, and credit to them because usually we just get rolling on offense. They had a great game plan.”

How tough has the North Region been this season? Skagit Valley was undefeated and the unanimous top-ranked team in the NWAC coaches poll when region play began. But heading into Wednesday the Cardinals were just 3-4 in league and found themselves outside playoff position at the midpoint of region play. The top seven teams were within two games of one another in the North Region standings, each between 5-2 and 3-4.

Meanwhile, both Edmonds and Everett came into Wednesday’s action in postseason position as they were tied for third. The Tritons’ victory pushed Edmonds into a tie for second with Shoreline, while the Trojans fell into a precarious tie for fourth with Skagit Valley.

“The tough thing is there are no easy games,” Thompson said. “Some of the other regions you might have a game or two where it’s not as difficult. But in the North Region every game is a battle and if you don’t show up it’s going to be a long night for you.”

Edmonds’ play at the start of each half set the tone. Sparked by Sims’ dunk on a fast break, the Tritons jumped out to a 9-2 lead within the first four minutes of the game. Everett gradually worked its way back into it and cut the deficit to 37-33 at halftime. However, Kamiak High School graduate Josiah Pierre’s 3-pointer completed a 9-0 Edmonds run to start the second half, stretching the lead to 13.

“The second half (start) was the most important, I think, because we know they’re capable of big comebacks,” Gray said. “We’ve seen it ourselves, we’ve seen it on film, so we had to stay locked in and make sure that didn’t happen tonight.”

Lee continued to use his canny all-court game, Motley continued to outmuscle his defenders and Edmonds’ defense continued to frustrate Everett’s leading scorer Smith. As a result the Tritons’ lead never fell below double digits the rest of the way.

Women’s game

The Tritons dominated the boards to beat the Trojans 86-56 in a North Region contest.

Edmonds outrebounded Everett 58-26, with 27 of those boards coming on the offensive end as second, third and fourth chances proved decisive for the bigger Tritons. This was particularly true in the second half, as Edmonds pulled away after it was tied 37-37 early in the third quarter.

Jada Walters came off the bench to record 31 points and 13 rebounds, and Natalie Brown added 13 points and 19 boards for Edmonds (13-6 overall, 7-1 league), which won its sixth straight.

Snohomish High School graduate Jada Andresen scored 22 points, including six 3-pointers, and Lake Stevens High School graduate Baylor Thomas added 12 points for the Trojans (9-13, 2-6).

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