Clark optimistic about NWAACC first round

Penguins’ leading scoring hobbled with ankle injury

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

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Even with his leading scorer a little gimpy, nothing can alter Mike Arnold’s unfailing optimism.

“We’re OK,” the Clark College men’s basketball coach said. “We’ve had a good week. Not disappointed in practices at all.”

Arnold and his Penguins face Clackamas Community College tonight in the first round of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges tournament in Kennewick. Clark (15-10 overall) is the No. 4 seed out of the West Division, while Clackamas (19-6) won the South Division.

That’s a daunting enough task for Clark, and it is made more difficult by an ankle injury to Austin Bragg. Averaging 12.8 points and 7.5 rebounds, the 6-foot-8 freshman from Mark Morris of Longview is the Penguins’ leader in both categories.

“Bragg’s ankle is about 70 percent,” Arnold said. “He’s not the guy he has been. Whether or not he starts, we’ll have to wait and see. We do have some guys in the post who can do some things.”

That would include Arman Kalan, a 6-foot-7 sophomore from Fort Vancouver who is second on the team with 10.4 points per game.

“It will be scoring by committee,” Arnold said. “We have talked a lot about our guards doing more scoring.”

While the Clark men begin play in the four-day tournament at 6 p.m. at the Toyota Center, the women face Lane College at 10 a.m. today. Clark (13-11) finished third in the West, while Lane (21-5) was second in the South.