|Saints win ten straight|
The Mt. Hood Community College men’s basketball team opened their Southern Division schedule on the road Wednesday at Portland Community College, winning 104-70.
Guard Jamal Cooke led the Saints (12-1) with 25 points and 8 rebounds. Gregg Barlow had 23 points, Nick Klinger had 14 points and Scott Zea had 11 points and 7 rebounds. Head coach Rob Nielson said, “We came out a little sluggish but really came out and took over in the second half.”
The win was the Saints’ tenth in a row. They won eight games over winter break, including two at home over South Puget Sound CC and Grays Harbor CC, three wins at the Umpqua Crossover tournament and three wins at College of the Desert, Calif., over what Nielson said were “some of the best programs out there” (LA Valley Community College and Chaffey College).
According to the coach, the Saints success this year can be attributed to three things: experience, versatility and talent. “We are a very talented team this year. When we play up to the level we are capable of, there really aren’t many teams who can play with us,” said Nielson. “When we are playing well, it’s almost scary.”
The Saints feature sophomore Corey Lowe and 7’ center Adonal Arrington in the low post. Nielson has been playing them one at a time but said that he plans to have them on the floor together, as match-ups dictate.
“Just having to guard them (Lowe and Arrington) changes the whole game,” said the coach. “Even if they’re not scoring, the other team’s guards have to help out on them and that opens up the floor for our shooters.”
The Saints travel to Lane Community College Saturday and Nielson said that whether they win or lose is entirely up to the team. “With the talent we have, not many teams can outright beat us, but we can beat ourselves,” said the coach.
“It’s a different situation from years past, where we were trying to knock off the top teams. Now everyone is coming after us trying to knock us off. We get everyone’s best shot.”
The Saints will play their first Southern Division home game Wednesday, Jan. 12, 7:30 p.m. against local rival Clackamas Community College. At stake will be the Saints home win streak, which stretches back to February 2003. Nielson said, “If we can win these first two league games on the road we’ll be in good shape. We are very confident about our home games.”
The NWAACC/Horizon Air Coaches Poll was released at 6 p.m. Thursday (unavailable at press time), and Nielson expects a high ranking. “We have the best record in the conference now and people are starting to recognize our program. I expect to be ranked first or second.”