Even with the season ending with a win, the men’s basketball team failed to make the playoffs for the first time in two years.
One year after making it to the NWAACC Championship, the Raiders playoff hopes have been crushed.
The Raiders finished the season by beating playoff-bound Lower Columbia Red Devils 70-64. Lower Columbia had gone to the NWAACC Championship in the 2009 and 2010 seasons placing second in each championship.
“Down the final stretch we didn’t finish games. We never had a consistent scorer so we lost many games in the final seconds,” Coach Bill Mendelson said.
That was the main difference between last year’s team and the current one according to Mendelson. Last year the Raiders finished strong and won close down to the wire games.
After the Raiders started off their strong league play, posting a record of 7-4, the playoffs seemed to be an easy goal. However, instead of finishing strong, the Raiders finished the season with a record 8-8 in league play. They lost four out of their final five games which cost them a chance in the post-season.
In order to make the playoffs the Raiders not only had to win their final road game, but they also needed some help from other teams including Green River and South Puget Sound Community Colleges.
Finishing the season in a fourth place in a two-way tie with South Puget Sound Community College, the Raiders lost the tiebreaker because of two loses to South Puget Sound this season.
Throughout the second half of the season, captain John Palmer, their leading scorer had limited playing time as a result of a persisting muscle injury.
“It makes things real difficult when your best player [John Palmer] is not at 100 percent. He even made All-Conference despite having his injury,” Mendelson said.
Now that the Raiders season is over, Mendelson is putting full effort into recruiting players for next year. Signing day is April 1.
“We’ve got to get six to seven guys on signing day. You always have to over-recruit because if you don’t you will end up with too little players or not enough talent,” Mendelson said. “I put most of my effort into recruiting players out of Alaska, Las Vegas and Washington.”
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