Volcanoes primed for IBL playoffs

Tournament takes place this weekend at Clark

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer

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Prior to losing to the Portland Chinooks on Tuesday, a game in which they rested the league’s best player Andre Murray, the Vancouver Volcanoes believe they can win this weekend’s IBL Playoffs at Clark College and get the championship that’s eluded them the past few seasons.

The Volcanoes won 6 in a row before Tuesday’s loss in the regular season finale, which followed a little bit of a rough patch at midseason.

Volcanoes head coach Joe Navarro confirmed that Murray’s omission was just precautionary and that IBL’s leader in points, assists and steals is “100 percent.”

The Volcanoes will face the Chinooks again in the first game of the IBL Playoff tournament on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Clark College.

The Salem Sabres and Seattle Flight face off at 2PM to start the tournament with the winner playing number-one seed and back-to-back defending IBL champion Bellingham Slam.

The Volcanoes did go through a rough patch where they lost four of five from mid-May through the start of June but it allowed them to re-asses their defense and their practice habits.

Navarro says he’s seen their defensive improve since midseason, which is important in an “offensive heavy league” like the IBL.

They came into the season with great expectations and believing that they were the team to beat.

“It kind of helps when you get humbled a bit,” says Navarro.

But now, after the humbling, the Volcanoes are confident after a winning stretch which was capped by beating their arch rivals 139-137 last Sunday.

“Going up there and beating Bellingham really helped,” Navarro said. “We are a really confident team right now, which is the way I like it.”

Navarro also said that guard Cameron McCaffery, who joined the Volcanoes at midseason from the Georgian league, is ready to go for Saturday’s game.

They practiced on Wednesday following their final game and elected to rest in the days leading up to Saturday’s clash with the Chinooks.

“We’ve seen these guys 5 times,” Navarro said. “We know what we’re getting with Portland and they know what they are getting with us. So, it’s just roll the ball out and go play.”

If Vancouver wins on Saturday, they will place the winner of the Bellingham vs. Seattle/Salem winner on Sunday evening at 5 PM for the IBL Championship at Clark College.