Trojans Survive and Advance


Jon Brennan

Freshman guard Tyriq Luke goes up for a tough layup against several Red Devils defenders. Luke had a team-high 18 points in Saturday’s victory.

For head coach Mike Trautman and the EvCC men’s basketball team, it’s been a season of trials and tribulations. At one point, the Trojan’s found themselves on the outside of the NWAC tournament in fifth place in the North division at 18-7, having lost five out of six games and searching for answers after starting the season a blistering 17-2.
As the number two seed out of the North division, the Trojans have a chance to clinch a spot in the title game on Saturday, March 18 at Holden Court at Columbia Basin College. “This is the most offensively talented team I’ve ever had. Mixing that with locked in defensive focus, you are seeing it translate to wins. This team is physically and mentally tough and we can win games in a variety of ways”. Trautman said.
The Trojan’s have rode a six-game winning streak since their mid-season struggles, knocking off four-straight division opponents before their NWAC tournament run began. “We struggled for a bit during the middle of the season, but since then we’ve really turned it up as a team.” Sophomore guard Colton Spencer said after their quarterfinal victory over the Lower Columbia Red Devils. The Alaska product has been a major presence in the Trojan’s backcourt, averaging 13 points and 3.5 assists per game, while providing Trautman with fiery veteran leadership.
Trautman’s late recruiting efforts have paid off in a big way this season. The seventh-year head coach brought in three key late recruits, including Spencer and freshmen Jadin Penigar and Tyriq Luke who have all averaged over 13 points a game. The combination of Spencer, Peniagar and Luke has been a catalyst for the sixth-highest scoring offense in the NWAC at 85.7 points per game to go along with the third-highest field goal percentage at 37.9%.
The Trojans have also benefited largely from the sophomore presence of returning starter and big man Leon Sayers, who’s averaged nearly seven rebounds a game. Redshirt freshman guard Tucker Molina has also dominated the stat sheet this season, posting five double-doubles and finishing fourth in the NWAC in blocks.
The Trojan’s now look to put their season on the line in the final four in a rematch against the Clackamas Cougars, who finished first in the South division at 23-8 (13-3). The Trojan’s won the first matchup in a thriller back on December 3rd in overtime 92-88. “We are going to treat this week exactly how we did last week. I’m just trying to duplicate our schedule from last week and have a repeat performance.” Trautman said of his preparations for the big weekend.