Trojans Knock Off #1 Seed Lower Columbia, Advance to Final Four


Jon Brennan

Redshirt freshman forward Tucker Molina posts up a Red Devils defender. Molina finished with a team-high 15 rebounds.

The EvCC Men’s Basketball team successfully avenged their early-season loss to Lower Columbia and then some on Saturday, March 11 at Holden Court, beating the Red Devils 69-49. The Trojan’s defense was the story of the evening, holding Mickey Polis’s squad to just 17 first-half points and out-rebounding the larger team on-paper 63-38.“Our guys fought like crazy and did what they could to grab rebounds. We ended up winning the rebound battle by 25, that’s a huge effort for being the smaller team!” Head Coach Mike Trautman said.

The Trojans and Red Devils struggled to shoot the ball in the first half, tallying under 35% from the field. The Red Devils frustration on the bench was apparent from the beginning as Polis was issued a technical foul for arguing with a referee before a Trojan’s late 13-5 run in the final 5 minutes of the frame that sent them to the locker room down 31-17.
The Trojan’s would continue to apply the pressure early in the second half, going on a 6-0 run in the first 3 minutes, highlighted by a Colton Spencer turnaround jumper and forcing Polis to call an early timeout. Spencer was active the entire game, finishing with a team-high 18 points and six rebounds. “This team has heart. We want to win so badly and do something at this school that’s never been done before.” Spencer said.

Trautman also got a much-needed offensive boost from freshman guard Tyriq Luke, who posted 18 points and seven rebounds in 31 minutes of action. The Trojan’s led by as many as 25 points, before a late Red Devils surge put them within 11 with 5 minutes to play. Trautman’s unit would execute skillfully down the stretch though, pushing the lead back to 20 and never looking back after a Trautman timeout.

The Red Devils relied heavily on sophomore guard Emmanuel Steward, who shot just 6 of 22 from the field enroute to a team-high 17 point performance in the loss. Steward, who shoots over 42% from three-point range, was limited to just 35% on 14 shot attempts from beyond the arc.

The Trojan’s victory marks the first time in nearly 30 years that the team has made it to the final four of the NWAC’s yearly invitational. Trautman believes his team’s success this year not only bodes well for the program’s future, but his players as well. “We had a few players pickup offers this weekend and also a few others got interest. That’s why I preach winning basketball so much because I know what this tournament can do for our players’ future.