The Lions clinched the West Region championships with a 105-88 win against Southwestern College in Phoenix, Arizona, placing the team on the road to compete in the NCCAA National tournament for the first time since 1999.
For the young team--with only one senior player--its win against Southwestern College has been its biggest game in the four years that Coach Curt Bickley has been coaching the Lions. Team captain Matt Nelson scored 30 points during the second half to secure the championship. The team's victory marks its 18th win of the season.
The team also secured its 19th win against West Coast Baptist College from Lancaster, California. The Lions ended the game with a 63-point second half. Trailing by 18 points at the end of the first half, the Lions stepped up their game against the Eagles. The team adjusted defense strategies and gained on the Eagles, with Matt Nelson, Bryce Hambelton, and Karrson Koivisto helping score the 63 points.
Both Nelson and Hambelton received post season honors. Nelson was named the Pacific Christian Athletic Conference Most Valuable Player for his play during the entire conference season, scoring over 28 points per game. Hambelton was awarded the first team All PCAC, leading the league with over 12 rebounds per game. "Matt has been an outstanding leader. He's one of the most responsible kids I've ever coached," Coach Bickley said. "He's been here through it all. Now he's seeing the results of his hard work." Coach Bickley said Hambelton is the first player in his 15 years of coaching to hit double digit rebounds. "Bryce is so competitive that he's really flourished this year," Coach Bickley said.
Despite the team having to overcome a lot of adversity this season, it has lived up to its motto: adapt and overcome. "It has definitely been a long grind, but it definitely feels great to accomplish what we've set out to accomplish," Coach Bickley said.
The Lions will be going to the NCCAA National Tournament in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma March 6-10. Multnomah is seeded 8th in the tournament. For more information, contact Coach Bickley at (503) 251-5397 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the MACU website to view the progress of the tournament.