The Pierce College Raiders Men’s Basketball team wrapped up the season with a trip to the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWAACC) Championships where they walked away with a 3rd Place Championship trophy.
The 3rd place finish capped the team’s 12-4 league record, finishing as Western Division Co-Champs. Individual recognitions were awarded to head coach Bill Mendelson as Western Division Coach of the Year, to sophomore Michael Wright as Western Division Co-MVP and 1st Team NWAACC All Tournament, and to freshman Noble’D Shelton as a Western Division 1st Team All-Star and 2nd Team NWAACC All Tournament.
The Raiders finished the season 18-10 overall. The team swept their series against Tacoma and Lower Columbia Community Colleges and Clark College.
Ending his fourth season with the Raiders, Coach Mendelson has taken the team to the NWAACC Tournaments twice in the past three seasons, each time making it to the semi-final round. And, by having a freshman strong team this year, chances look excellent for a return trip next year; his record at Pierce is 68-45.
“Wright, the first Pierce Men’s Basketball player to win the co-most valuable player award, was the second leading rebounder in the division,” said Duncan Stevenson, director of athletics and recreation for the Pierce College District.
He indicated Wright finished his career at Pierce as the basketball program’s all-time leading rebounder, and led the team this season in scoring (16.5 points per game) and rebounding (11.7 rebounds per game). Shelton is the team’s second leading scorer.
“This is the best group of basketball players I’ve had the privilege to coach in all my 33 years of coaching,” Coach Bill Mendelson stated at the Winter Sports Banquet. “And talk about diverse & we’ve got guys from all different backgrounds, experiences, and regions. But here, they are a family, a team in the truest sense of the word.”
This unique combination of players includes two fathers, two international students, one Army veteran, players from around the country (even as far as Hawaii), and a high school football player who had never before played organized basketball.
Stevenson said the team is looking forward to next season when games will be held in a 1,000-seat gymnasium included in the design of a $9.5 million Health Education Center (HEC). Partially funded by student fees, the HEC center is scheduled for completion in August on the Fort Steilacoom campus.