Gator News

Gators Win First NWAC Men’s Basketball Title in 69-61 Overtime Thriller over Tacoma

By Northwest Athletic Conference, March 18, 2024

The GRC men's basketball team poses having just one the 2024 NWAC Championship

PASCO, Wash. – The Green River Gators won their second-ever conference title and first NWAC Championship, defeating the Tacoma Titans 69-61 in a high-intensity overtime battle in the finals of the 2024 NWAC Men's Basketball Championship, presented by Golf Universe, on Sunday at Columbia Basin College.

The championship title is the first for the Gators as members of the NWAC. Their lone conference title came in 1969 under head coach Bob Aubert while members of the Washington Athletic Association of Community Colleges (WAACC). That win also came against Tacoma.

Featuring two teams that had explosive offenses throughout the first three rounds of the tournament, the championship game turned into a defensive slugfest. The Gators (27-6) pulled away late in the overtime as they shot a perfect 4-for-4 in the extra period while knocking down five free throws.

Neither team finished with a high shooting percentage as the Gators made 37.3 percent of their field goals (25-for-67) while Tacoma (22-10) connected on 32.4 percent (23-for-71) from the floor. After a pair of tough games on Saturday, Sunday's finals was a battle of attrition.

Tournament Most Valuable Player Jaiden Feroah stepped up in a big way for the Gators, finishing with 17 points, a Green River record 23 rebounds, five blocks and four steals. Feroah averaged just over 17 points per game, 12 rebounds, four blocks and three steals in the tourney.

Green River's Kameron Bender made some tough shots down the stretch with 17 points, six rebounds, three steals and three blocks. Clayton Whitman added 15 points for the Gators.

On the Tacoma side, Marc Eyman continued his strong tournament with 15 points. KeVaughn Harvey had 11 points, Winston Cole had 10 points and eight rebounds and Chae Haynes had nine points, 13 boards and five steals.

In a matchup featuring two West Region foes, Green River finished with a 3-0 record over the Titans despite the last two both being extremely close. The teams also shared a home court this year as Green River's home facility has been under repair. Both teams played their home contests at TCC's Titan Gymnasium.

Head Coach Godfrey Drake led the Gators to their first championship since 1969. It was also the first time they had reached the finals since his start with the program, last playing in the championship game in 2003.

Men's All-Tournament Team
Most Valuable Player: Jaiden Feroah, Green River
Most Inspirational: Clayton Whitman, Green River

First Team
Kameron Bender, Green River
Kyle Gruhler, Portland
Jerry Hayes, Skagit Valley
Marc Eyman, Tacoma
Chae Haynes, Tacoma

Second Team
Peyton Nordland, Green River
Tyler Burraston, Green River
Hayden Rose, Portland
Connor Drinkwine, Skagit Valley
Lareel Stewart, Tacoma

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