Returning from the winter break, it’s time to check in on the MHCC men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Both played in out-of-division “crossover” tournaments in December, the women going 1-2 in the Centralia Crossover, the men going 2-1 in the Mt. Hood Crossover they hosted in Gresham.
Mt. Hood men’s forward Ethan Channel and sophomore guard Steven Fair received NWAC Crossover All-Star awards for their play.
Now, as the MHCC squads dive into their South conference schedules, both their coaches are optimistic.
Coach John Hawley looks to take the Saints back to the NWAC championship tournament after a successful run last year. The team (4-10 overall, 0-3 South Conference) began its season losing two road games in overtime, and have struggled a bit.
Most recently, the Saints lost Wednesday to Chemeketa, 98-89, in Salem.
“We’ve been right there on the bubble,” said Hawley. “We haven’t played real consistent basketball, that’s been the biggest thing. And it starts with our on ball defense. It breaks us down a little bit, causing a lot of problems in our rotations.”
Mt. Hood’s next home game is at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against Clark College (also 4-10, 0-3).
“Clark’s pretty much in the same boat as we are. It’s a winnable game,” Hawley said.
Asked about postseason hopes, Hawley said, “You know, (the South) is always tough. We beat each other up. Last year we made the conference playoffs and it came down to the last weekend. That’s how competitive the southern region is, top to bottom.
In his first year as Saints head coach, Jeremy Vandenboer seeks to make some noise in the NWAC South.
His team is off to a good start, at 5-8 overall but 2-1 in the South after beating Chemeketa, 69-61, in Salem on Wednesday.
The freshman-heavy Saints were led against the Storm by the 15 points of freshman forward Courtney Jackson and freshman center Rachel Watson.
The Saints are happy to finally be getting healthy again as they had some players out injured, said Vandenboer. Before the Chemeketa game, he described his mood as “Feeling good, feeling confident. Today’s game is really important.”
Mt. Hood returns home to take on Clark College (0-14, 0-3 South Conference) at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Vandenboer said his team has “a really good chance” at the playoffs, but added his own warning.
“We obviously can’t overlook any team,” he said. “Play hard; make shots; good defense: Just do what we do and it’ll take care of things.”