Chad Meadors isn’t bothered by the idea of having to play the host Everett Trojans in the opening round of the NWAC Women’s Basketball Championships.
“We’re prepared to play any team,” the veteran LCC coach said. “The host team will be the most comfortable in their game and will have the crowd behind them. I’d like to think they have to play us, and there’s not a lot of teams who want to play Lower Columbia.”
The second-ranked Red Devils (26-3) and Everett (14-12) play at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Walt Price Recreation Center on the Everett College campus. The winner moves on to face either fifth-ranked Walla Walla or Clackamas in a tournament quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. Sunday, while the loser goes home.
One of the hottest teams in the NWAC, LCC goes into the tournament on a 12-game winning streak. On the other side, Everett has won seven of its last eight games. The Trojans are ranked 14th in offense (68.9), 26th in defense (68.5), and have given up 16.4 turnovers per game.
“They will try to outscore us,” Meadors said. “On any given night they might shoot 60 percent, so we need to put ball pressure on them to disrupt their offense.”
Uju Chibuogwu is the unquestioned leader of the Everett offense. The 6-foot freshman was named to the North Region first-team, and was tabbed the region’s Freshman of the Year after averaging 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.3 blocked shots and 1.5 steals.
“What’s unique about their post player is that she’s also their point guard,” Meadors said. “Our posts are used to running to the block and defending. We’ll need to pick them up earlier, and someone will have to be defending the point center.”
North Region second-teamer Alexis Biggerstaff averages 12 points and three rebounds, Lily Hilderbrand averages 12 points and 7.5 rebounds, and Tyra Lopez averages 10.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
“They have shooters, and their three guards all shoot the ball well,” Meadors said. “They aren’t a transition team, and they want to be deliberate and run their offense through their 6-foot point-post who is their best player.”
At the other end, the Red Devils are ranked seventh in offense (70.3), and have the second-stingiest defense in the conference at 55.0. Sophomore point guard Maddy Hinrichs was named to the West Region first-team and the region’s Defensive Team after averaging 10 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.6 steals. Fellow first-team freshman post Madison Lord averaged 10.9 points and 6.8 rebounds, and sophomore wing Carissa Cannon was named to the second-team and defensive squad after averaging 5.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists. In addition, Meadors was named the West Region Coach of the Year.
“A number of our players have been to the tournament before and understand what it takes and how hard they have to play,” Meadors said. “You not only have to play well, make shots and play defense, you have to be fortunate and have some things go your way.
“We’ll always be in the game because we can defend in a lot of different way, and we’ll have to make the right choices in our defense.”