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EGGERS: PCC team comes home with a title

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JOHN HOWARD - Portland Community College players celebrate their victory in the NWAACC championship game at Kennewick, Wash.Tony Broadous is a coach who believes in preparation.

At the start of the season, the second-year Portland Community College basketball coach went through a visualization exercise with his players.

"We talked about cutting the nets down after winning the (Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges) championship," Broadous says.

Rather bold, considering that over 30 years as a program, the Panthers had enjoyed one winning season and zero trips to the NWAACC Championships.

On Tuesday, though, the visual preparation paid off after PCC disposed of Pierce (Wash.) 92-86 in the NWAACC championship game at Kennewick, Wash.

After the final horn, the Panther players celebrated together, sharing hugs and back slaps and a few happy tears.

And then -- just as they had spoken about in September -- they cut down the nets.

It was the culmination of a season of beyond Cinderella proportions at PCC.

Two years after experiencing an 0-24 season, the Panthers were kingpins of Northwest community college basketball.

"Incredible, really incredible," says Broadous, 46, who earlier had been named NWAACC co-coach of the year for taking the Panthers (23-9 overall, 10-4 in conference play) to a share of the South Division title.

"I'm just proud of the players for putting the work in," Broadous says. "And I'm excited we could be pioneers in terms of putting PCC on the map in basketball."

In 2012-13, the Panthers had been competitive, finishing 12-15 overall and 8-6 in NWAACC action. After their jump in performance through the 2013-14 season, guard Warren Edmondson told the Tribune last week they weren't satisfied with merely getting to Kennewick to participate in the 16-team post-season tournament.

"The plan is to go there, take it all and bring a championship back home to Portland," Edmondson said.

PCC survived a pair of squeakers in its first two games, beating Lower Columbia 56-54 in the opener, then edging Bellevue 77-76 in the quarterfinals.

"The first game was the one I was most worried about," Broadous says. "Our first time there, our players' first experience with any kind of postseason action -- I knew the guys would be a little nervous. Somehow we survived that one.

"Bellevue got us down 29-6. We had a terrible start, and (the Bulldogs) made every shot. It was our reserves -- guys like Jordan Wood, Ryan Dethlefs and CJ Easterling -- who got us going. We cut the lead to 12 at halftime, and we felt good about that. Then Josh Turner carried us in the second half. He made big shot after big shot."

With the Panthers in possession trailing 76-75 and eight seconds left, Broadous called a timeout.

"I drew up a play for Josh," he says, "with ball screens on both sides, and put Warren on one side in case (the Bulldogs) double-teamed. They did, and Warren wound up sinking an 8-foot bank shot -- from a tough angle -- with three seconds to go."

Heading into a semifinal matchup with Skagit Valley, "our confidence was high, and Warren hadn't shot well yet," Broadous says.

Edmondson bombed in 42 points, sinking 14 of 21 from the field and 9 of 13 from 3-point range, in a 96-82 romp.

"Warren came out on fire, with 26 in the first half," Broadous says. The Cardinals "had beaten us earlier in the year, so we owed them."

With Turner (23 points), Edmondson (18) and reserve Angelo Tupper (17) leading the way, PCC took care of Pierce in the championship game. Tupper -- who was 1 for 10 from 3-point range in the first three games of the tournament -- sank 5 of 7 from beyond the arc in the final.

"I just had a feeling he was going to have a big night," Broadous says.

As he reflected on the season, Broadous -- for 20 years a PIL coach, the last 10 years at Grant -- recalled a Panthers game he watched the year before he took over.

"They got beat by 40," Broadous says. "I was embarrassed. I'm a Portland guy, born and raised. I love the city. Our community college basketball program is not supposed to be that bad. It made no sense. I remember thinking, 'If I get this position, we're going to change that.'

"I knew we'd have some success. I didn't know it would come this quickly."

Broadous says the buzz that had built on campus for the basketball program this season has grown this week as news of the championship spread. Turner -- who averaged 21.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals -- was named the tournament's most valuable player. Edmondson made first-team all-tournament. Power forward Carl Appleton was named most inspirational player.

"We have the bracket and a giant trophy, too," Broadous says.

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Twitter: @kerryeggers