The Clark men’s basketball team prepares to challenge Whatcom Community College in a Final Four matchup on Saturday at 8 p.m. after defeating Yakima Valley, 65-57, on Friday night.
Despite five lead changes in the first half, Clark held on to their southern region first seed and are continuing their battle for a championship repeat.
The Yaks fought hard, sinking nine three pointers on the night, and shooting nearly 40 percent from the field. However, Penguins season scoring leader Bryan Berg made 13 of his 14 field goal attempts, finishing with 26 points on the night and helping Clark to edge out Yakima.
Head coach Alex Kirk said he has asked Berg to lead the Penguins for the entire season. As for tonight’s performance, Kirk told NWAC that Berg “steadied the ship.”
The first half was filled with nerves, Kirk said, as it ended just 35-29. The Penguins never relinquished the lead after taking it in the second, even as the Yaks scrambled to get ahead, resulting in a barrage of last-minute fouls. Glenn Baral hit a pair of free throws to solidify Clark’s lead.
“They kind of scared us at the end,” Baral said. “We gave some of their shooters some open looks, but we tightened it up and made our free throws when we needed them.”
Yakima Valley’s Demetrius Trammell sank six three pointers, at one point tying the score at 42. Although Berg said it didn’t get to him, Kirk said he was nervous enough for the both of them.
Neither the Penguins nor the Yaks are accustomed to low-scoring games, with an average of 92 and 84 points per game respectively.
Kirk said he was eager to play Whatcom as part of their mission to play against the best teams in the NWAC.
Whatcom defeated Columbia Basin, 64-47, to move into a semi-final match versus Clark. The Orcas come equipped with a height advantage over the Penguins, with five players standing taller than 6-foot-5.
Reporter Josh Brody also contributed to this story.
Editor’s Note: The Independent staff is in Everett providing coverage throughout the NWAC tournament. Follow us on Twitter @IndyCCSports and continue checking our website for daily updates.
Great reporting, writing and shooting. Hats off to you, Becca, Josh and Ryan. And to the Penguin men’s team and coach Kirk!