The Clark College women’s basketball team enters the postseason with a bit of an identity crisis.
Are the Penguins the team that reeled off 16 consecutive wins from mid-December to mid-February?
Or are they the worn-down team that dropped three in a row late in the season?
Coach Nancy Boone hopes the 101-54 win over Grays Harbor in the regular-season finale is the springboard back to success as the Penguins enter the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges tournament in Kennewick.
“Looking back on the final games of the season, we really shouldn’t have lost those games,” Boone said. “But I think winning our final game has helped with our confidence level going into the tournament.”
Clark (20-6) is the No. 2 seed from the Western Division, setting them up against Yakima Valley (20-7) at 10 a.m. Saturday in the NWAACC first round. The Penguins beat the Yaks, 83-75, in Yakima on Dec. 3.
“Yakima has good players and will come out very aggressive to redeem themselves from the previous loss,” said sophomore Macy Mukensnabl, who is averaging 11 points a game.
Boone said that over the course of the season her team, which consists of six sophomores and four freshmen, has been physically and emotionally worn down.
“We have been making sure that everyone is feeling good,” Boone said. “If I feel the need, I will shorten practice, making sure they get lots of rest, as well as making sure they are all getting the nutrition they need.”
After watching film on Yakima Valley, the Penguins know that attention needs to focus on defense and utilizing any mismatches.
“To prepare for the tournament, we are working mostly on our defense. As coach says, ‘Defense is what will win you games,’ ” Mukensnabl said. “We have been watching film each day before practice to prepare ourselves for what is to come.”
Boone said that for the Penguins to become NWAACC champions they will need to depend on the leadership of the sophomores.
“Mentally, we are getting focused on the task at hand, as well as getting plenty of rest,” sophomore Deborah Simmers said. “We are practicing hard, fine-tuning our defense, and fixing little quirks in our offense.”