PASCO — For the first time in two decades, the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament championship trophy is coming back to Vancouver.
The Clark College men’s basketball team handily beat No. 1 seed Edmonds 78-59 in the championship game on Tuesday.
“I’m just doing this so I don’t get fined,” head coach Alex Kirk joked. “This game was a lot of fun. Our guys played their butts off. Edmonds is a good team, and they fought us hard tonight.”
Leading Clark were -Darrius Mathis with 18, Evan Garrison with 16, and Rian Bassett with 15.
After the game, Mathis was in the stands giving hugs all around.
“This is the greatest feeling in the world,” he said. “We fought so hard and it paid off.”
Clark (25-6) came into the championship game outscoring their opponents by 20 points per game on average in the tournament.
Although the Tritons were averaging 76 points per game in the tournament, Penguins were able to hold them to 19 points in the second half Tuesday.
In the first half, the Tritons used scorching shooting to take a 40-38 halftime lead. Edmonds was 7 of 16 from behind the arc in the first half.
Clark went on a 8-2 run at the end of the first half to get back within two points of the lead, with Bassett scoring four of the eight.
The Penguins took their late run in the first half straight into the second half. Two dunks coming from Orlando Vance within 4 minutes of each other sent the Clark fans and bench on fire, helping to extend the lead.
Edmonds continued to fight throughout the late minutes of the game, but Clark was able to sustain its lead.
“Our defense is stingy,” Garrison said. “We had our struggles and we started clicking at the right moments.”
Garrison was also given the Most Valuable Player award for the game.
The Penguins shot 42 from the field while the Tritons shot 25.