Coach Wilde and the Trojans ‘Up for the Challenge’ in the Sweet 16


John Yeager

Uju Chibuogwu pulls up for a jumper during practice. Chibuogwu, a freshman, is Everett’s leading scorer.

The EvCC Women’s Basketball team has qualified for the NWAC Basketball Championships and is in preparation to take on Lower Columbia, the number one team from the Western Region.

The NWAC tournament is comprised of 16 teams, four from each region of the NWAC. The tournament has four rounds, with the first being the Sweet 16, followed by the Elite 8 and the
Final 4. After these rounds, the remaining two teams battle for the title in the championship game.

In the Sweet 16, the Trojans face a tough matchup. As the fourth seed out of the North division, the team knew they were going to be drawing a strong team in the selection process.

“Lower Columbia is tough,” said Associate Head Coach Zach Wilde. “One through eight or nine, they’re all pretty consistent, so it’s going to be tough for us to prepare for them.”

John Yeager
Associate Head Coach Zach Wilde instructs his team during their last practice before the Sweet 16.

However, Everett’s matchup in the Sweet 16 came from unusual circumstances, as the team ended the season in a three-way tie for second place in the NWAC.

“We’re not just a four seed,” said Wilde. “I don’t think anyone is going to come underprepared for us. I think it’s a chip on our shoulder that we’re going to try to play with.”

Lower Columbia has lost one game all year in league play, and finished off the regular season on a 12 game win streak. Their game is focused mostly on the defensive side of the ball, as they have racked up a whopping 451 steals on the season- the most in the entire NWAC and nearly twice as much as Everett.

John Yeager
Kaela Tyler looks to pass to a teammate during a drill on Wednesday.

While the defense Lower Columbia is capable of running is intimidating, Everett runs a high octane offense. Led by freshman standout Uju Chibuogwu, the Trojans are one of seven teams in the NWAC to have scored 100 or more points in a game. The NWAC has 34 teams in total.

Chibuogwu is in the top 15 for scoring in the NWAC, averaging about 19 points a game. Additionally, she has had a masterful season in regards to rebounding. Chibuogwu is in the top ten in the NWAC for the category with 9.7 rebounds per game.

In regards to the utilization of Chibuogwu in the tournament, Wilde said, “We’re just going to continue to do the same thing we’ve been doing all year.” He continued saying, “The Shoreline game really showed that once she gets going inside, the outside comes alive. She’s still got a green light. She’s still gotta put up a lot of points for us.”

Everett has also had a fantastic year at the free throw line. The Trojans finished the regular season averaging 70% from the charity stripe, the second best in the NWAC.
“If you look at it, consistently, they foul a lot,” said Wilde, when discussing Lower Columbia. “So, for us to get in there and get to the free throw line is huge.”

Everett has consistently been one of the most exciting teams in the NWAC this year and will look to take down West no. 1 Lower Columbia on Saturday, March 11 in the Sweet 16.

Despite being the underdog on paper, Coach Wilde is confident in his team, saying, “We’re up for the challenge.”