WRITTEN BY: GRIFFIN ASELTINE | STAFF WRITER
Standing on the cusp of the playoffs with seven games remaining in the regular season, both of Point Loma’s basketball squads find themselves in similar spots of the PacWest standings.
In order to qualify for the postseason bracket, teams are required to finish in the top six of the PacWest conference standings by the end of the season.
The men’s team (11-9 overall and 6-7 in conference play) is currently tied for seventh in the conference and trailing three wins behind the sixth- seeded BYU-Hawaii (9-7), while the women’s team (16-5 overall and 9-4 in conference play) is ranked fifth with a 2.5-game lead over the seventh-ranked Hawaii Hilo (7-7).
“We play the majority of the teams ahead of us in the standings this next month,” said senior Aaron Roedl. “If we can win most of those matchups, we are in (the playoffs). The rest of the season is in our hands, and we are glad to be in this position. We’re coming up against some of the best teams, so we have a great opportunity to prove ourselves.”
Their journey has not been without its moments of struggle. Injuries have cut deeply into the roster with Trevor Peterson, Emerson Castaneda, Randall Jackson, and Sam Okhotin all currently unable to perform.
In response, the underclassmen have outperformed their expectations, including freshman Josh Rodriguez and junior transfers Tanner Lancona and Chad Watkins.
“All of our new players, despite having little experience in our program, have managed to come in and learn things quickly,” said Roedl. “Some of them have even became starters and key contributors to this team.”
Despite sitting at a seemingly shaky 6-7 conference record, the men’s team feels that they are more than capable of being a postseason threat in March if they take care of business throughout the rest of February.
“We beat Azusa Pacific here at home and they’re at the top of the conference,” said Roedl. “If we can beat them, we can beat anyone.”
For the women’s team, despite being in playoff position, there have been many efforts to keep the pressure low in order for the team to continue its stride.
“There’s a lot of hype around us for many reasons,” said junior forward Madison West, the team’s leading scorer. “For example, it’s Westphal’s last season, and he’s close to 600 wins as the end of the year is approaching.”
Bill Westphal’s overall career record as a head coach is currently 594-346, and with seven games left to play in the regular season, there is an opportunity for that milestone to be passed.
The season roller coaster has been a rather unique one for the women’s team, starting the season off 5-0 before a brutal 3-5 stretch that began just two days after Thanksgiving against Cal State
Los Angeles. They are currently on an eight-game winning streak that began on December 9th against Cal State San Marcos.
“It took us a little longer than we had hoped for, but we are starting to mold together as a team,” said West. “Paola Roa and Alex Brunk have stepped up this year as sophomores; they both have excellent core vision. Amy Ogren has stepped up in scoring, Anna Viettry is improving in point guard vision, and Sydney Tonack has been cleaning up on the board. It’s definitely not a one-man team.”
Despite the pressure and early season struggles, the confidence of the women’s team is apparent.
“I know we can beat any of the top teams,” said West. “We just have to step up and not panic under the pressure.”
While both teams have had their struggles, they are both in control of their own destiny, and they both feel that postseason success is a legitimate possibility. Whether or not that ambition comes true starts now in the final month of the regular season.
photos by: plnusealions.com