Wildcats finish NWC play strong, advance to playoffs

Kaelia Neal, sports editor

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After being near the bottom of the conference the past few years, the Linfield men’s basketball team has advanced to the Northwest Conference tournament.

In the team’s final games of the regular season play, Linfield had two significant wins over Pacific Lutheran University on Friday and Willamette University on Saturday.

“Friday’s game was just huge for us. The winner of the game went to the NWC playoffs,” senior Kyle Maloof said. “We showed up focused on what we had to do and we left it all out there and came back with the win.”

“We achieved one of our goals for the season, which was making the playoffs, so we feel good about that,” junior Jordan Clark said.

The first time the Wildcats faced Pacific Lutheran they lost 54-67 at home. Linfield traveled to Tacoma for a chance at redemption. It was the Lutes’ senior night, but the Wildcats were victorious with a final score of 80-72. Maloof led his team by scoring 25 points.

On the following day, the men’s basketball team traveled back to McMinnville for their own senior night and again was successful as it defeated the Bearcats 75-63.

“On Saturday we honored our seniors well with an emotional night that concludes with another conference victory,” Clark said.

Maloof again helped his team tremendously by being the top scorer against Willamette with 19 points.

“It felt good to win on our senior night. I feel great about our season overall,” Maloof said.

The Linfield men’s basketball team has made huge strides over the past few years to be where it is, and the ’Cats have been led by fourth year head coach Shanan Rosenberg.  

“It’s the first time in six to seven years that Linfield was a playoff team in the NWC, and it feels amazing to be part of that and to be a part of this team,” Maloof said.

Linfield finished third in the NWC with a record of 9-7 and an overall record of 15-10. The Wildcats will face the Whitworth Pirates in the NWC Tournament Semifinals at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Spokane, Washington, and if they win, they will play on Saturday in the championship game.