Years of losing have come to an end. The women’s basketball team has secured a playoff berth for the first time since 1993.
With a record of 8-2 over the last ten games, the Raiders have momentum on their side. They upset the previously undefeated Penguins of Clark College 71-61 on Feb. 15. The Penguins were 12-0 in league play and sat atop the division until the Raiders defeated them.
“We have gone through a lot of coaches the last 20 years. Its been frustrating but when we hired Brian Purugganan it felt right, after three seasons he has gotten the program running just the way we want it,” Duncan Stevenson, Pierce College’s athletic director, said.
Stevenson was there the last time the women’s basketball team made it to the playoffs in the 1993-1994 season. The Raiders will be playing the second seed team from the eastern conference in the playoffs. The tournament will be held March 3-6 in Kennewick, Wash.
The Raiders have had a complete turn around since the beginning of the season according to sophomore captain Hayley Hancock. Throughout the season, many players have quit the basketball team due to off-the-court problems. The team was at a mere six players at one point and could barely compete in some of the games due to their lack of a solid bench.
“It’s tiring to practice with just eight players, you don’t get full on scrimmages, but its helped us become a stronger, more physical team,” Hancock said.
The Raiders have lived up to their pre-season hype after barely losing out and not making the play-offs last year. They were expected to make the post-season this year. With three returning players, the women’s basketball team had their eyes set on making the play-offs
The combination of returning players and new ones has turned out to be a key to success. Last year, the entire team was made of freshmen players, which lead to inconsistencies according to Stevenson.
Hayley Hancock, Unique Taufa’asau and Kawehi Hagi have been big contributors this year and rank among the state leaders in the NWAAC.
“Last year we didn’t have the right mentality or the heart to make it to the playoffs,” Hancock said. “We had no desire to work hard. There was no passion so we started to fall apart at the end of the season.”
Defense has been a cornerstone to the basketball teams 11-4 league record. They have held offensive powerhouses to under 70 points at many times this season.
“Coach Purugganan has really helped us come together as a team and we don’t practice the same things over and over. We work on small things that have a big impact on our play in games,” Hancock said.
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