The local college basketball season heats up this weekend with Saint Martin’s University and The Evergreen State College beginning conference play.
The Saint Martin’s women (3-3), who have lost two successive games, open Great Northwest Athletic Conference action against Central Washington at 7 p.m. Thursday at Marcus Pavilion in Lacey. The Saints will play host to Northwest Nazarene at 7 p.m. Saturday.
The SMU men (0-5), looking for their first win in the Michael Ostlund era, travel north to Simon Fraser on Thursday and to Western Washington, which won the 2012 NCAA Division II championship, on Saturday.
The area’s hottest team is the Evergreen women, winners of four in a row. It’s the program’s longest winning streak since winning five consecutive games from Nov. 21-29, 2008.
Evergreen (4-2) plays host to Eastern Oregon at 5:30 p.m. Friday as part of a Cascade Collegiate Conference doubleheader. The Evergreen-Eastern Oregon men’s game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m.
The Evergreen women owe much of their winning streak to junior Brittany Gray, a transfer from Skagit Valley College who on Monday was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference women’s basketball player of the week. On Nov. 26, the forward from Bainbridge Island led the Geoducks to a 69-66 win over Pacific (Ore.) with 29 points and 16 rebounds, both game highs.
In six games, Gray is averaging 14.3 points and 9.2 rebounds a game.
South Puget Sound Community College guard Slanblaytee Kaye, a freshman from Oakland, is tied for third in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges in steals (13) through the Clippers’ first four games. He also ranks 10th in assists (4.75 per game).
SPSCC (0-4) looks to give coach Aaron Landon his first win when the Clippers travel to Portland to face Concordia’s junior-varsity team at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Landon spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach at Concordia, which defeated SPSCC, 88-78, last month.
Tumwater High School graduate Daniel Page, a junior at Iowa’s Central College, is ranked No. 5 at 125 pounds in the latest InterMat NCAA Division III wrestling rankings. Page is 7-2 after going 26-8 a year ago. … Timberline High graduate and Eastern Washington senior outside linebacker Ronnie Hamlin earned second-team all-Big Sky Conference football honors, announced last week. Hamlin has a team-high 101 tackles for the FCS third-ranked Eagles. … Tumwater High graduate Marty Ziesemer, the women’s soccer coach at Corban University, was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference co-coach of the year after helping the Warriors to their first playoff berth after a two-year absence. … Cara Olden, a Tumwater High graduate who recently completed her volleyball eligibility at Portland State, has joined the Vikings women’s basketball team. … Saint Martin’s senior setter Cymbree Decosta closed out her collegiate volleyball career with an honorable mention on the all-GNAC team. It was her first all-GNAC accolade.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/ south-sound-sports-blog @megwochnick