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Women’s hoops team heads to the post-season for the first time

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In the world of PCC Basketball, history seems to be repeating itself.

After last year’s breakthrough season, in which the men’s team not only made the postseason tournament for the first time ever, but won the conference championship to boot – the women’s team has followed suit by qualifying for the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC) tournament for the first time in College history.IMG_0661

“I give all praise to the girls,” said head coach John Slaughter. “They have earned this.”

The NWAC tournament runs from March 7-10 at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash. The Panthers’ first game tips off at 8 p.m. on March 7 vs. Peninsula Community College. The entire tournament will be live-streamed on the NWAC Web site, www.nwaacc.org.

The Panthers’ successful push for the playoffs came in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. An unexpected resignation just before the season started left the team without a head coach, and Slaughter was quickly hired to take over. The Panthers responded with a solid season, finishing with a 6-6 league record (13-13 overall) and a long-coveted berth in the NWAC tournament.

The team has found success with an unorthodox offensive approach. The roster is stacked with guards, and there is no true center on the team. With not much of a low-post game to speak of, the Panthers depend on quick passing and dribble penetration to break opponents down.

“I have no ‘bigs’!” Slaughter lamented, laughing.

On the defensive end, the Panthers rely on a high-pressure style and relentless perimeter defense — three members of the team are ranked in the top 10 in the conference in steals, and one, freshman Shyanne Akles, set a new PCC record for steals this season. By the end of the tournament, she has a shot at breaking the NWAC’s all-time single-season steals record.

All things considered, Slaughter likes his team’s chances in the tournament.

“I’m excited,” he said. “We’re going to play Panther basketball. When we do that, we’re hard to beat.”

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