Clark’s men’s basketball team has won five games in a row, tying them with Highline Community College for first in the Northwest Athletic Conference West Region. The two teams will meet today at Highline at 8 p.m.
The Penguins are 13-5 and battle a 14-5 Highline team that has won four games in a row. This matchup has obvious NWAC tournament implications.
Assistant coach Tim Marrion said, “It will be a test for sure. This is going to be a tough game. Their game is a lot like ours. They play a high-paced zone defense. They are going to try to push the tempo and force us into making bad shots.”
The Thunderbirds bring players like Doug McDaniel, the NWAC’s second highest scorer and fourth in steals. Forward Ben Tucakovic is 10th in the NWAC in rebounds.
The Penguin’s center Miles Martin is looking forward to the challenge he and fellow big man, Orlando “Tre” Vance, face against a 7-foot Tucakovic.
“I haven’t faced very many teams with me and Tre’s size, 6-foot-9 inch guys,” Martin said. “I think as long as we do our job as big men, keeping track of where he is at all times, getting rebounds and box every man out, I think we are going to do fine.”
Clark’s bench scoring has been prolific recently. In Saturday’s game against South Puget Sound, Hayden Hall had 23 of the 53 points off the bench. Kendal Brown scored 32 points off the bench in their game against Centralia on Jan. 21.
While there is no specific star, team captain and sophomore transfer Evan Garrison is highly praised for his ability to be an extension of the coaches out on the floor according to Marrion.
“Evan is the rock for our team. He is someone we trust to do what he says and then he actually does it,” Martin said.
Garrison is sixth in the NWAC for assists, and while his presence may not stand out on the stats sheet, he is looked at by Marrion as a “bulldog.” Marrion said, “He plays really hard and he scraps on both ends.”
Some would shy away from this responsibility but Garrison has embraced it.
“I think being the leader is something that I have developed. I want to be the leader. I want to be the guy with the ball in my hands in the last second,” Garrison said.
In an interview on Monday, Marrion described what it will take to win this game. “I think it is going to come down to who is the most disciplined, who will value the basketball and take good shots and who will win the battle on the glass and get those rebounds.”