ASHLAND — With two weeks and four games remaining in the regular season the 24th-ranked Southern Oregon men's basketball team has a chance to cross one milestone off its list and move closer to another against Northwest and Evergreen.
Southern Oregon's next win will be the 242nd of head coach Brian McDermott's SOU career, which will move him past Ted Schopf for sole possession of the program coaching record. McDermott tied Schopf atop the leaderboard with his 241st win on Saturday as the Raiders knocked off archrival Oregon Tech for the third time this season.
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The Raiders, 18-8 overall and 9-5 in Cascade Collegiate Conference play, currently rank third in the CCC standings. With the top four teams at the end of the regular season set to host first-round CCC Tournament contests, SOU is currently in line to host its first conference tourney game since 2006.
"We're hanging in there right now," McDermott said. "We're in that three-four spot for a home game, and that's one of our goals to get that home game. Another would be to keep ourselves ranked in the top 25, which would lead to a good possibility of an at-large bid for the national tournament. Those are some of the goals that we have, and this weekend will have a lot to do with whether we can accomplish those goals."
While Southern Oregon controls its own fate in the quest for a first-round home game, the Raiders have a very slim margin of error in the final four games. Southern Oregon owns a half-game lead over Northwest and College of Idaho, with Friday's upcoming game against Northwest serving to either give SOU a bit of a buffer zone or help the Eagles jump the Raiders in the standings.
Northwest has struggled recently, dropping its past four games to fall out of the latest NAIA poll. But the Eagles come into Friday's matchup having already defeated the Raiders 82-73 on Jan. 12 in Ashland. Another Northwest win would give the Eagles the regular-season sweep and the tiebreaker over SOU in the standings.
"It couldn't be a bigger game the way things have worked out," McDermott said. "We're still in there fighting for that first round home game in the playoffs, and this is a huge game that would take us a long way towards getting that."
Following Friday's game, Southern Oregon will close out the regular season with games against the bottom three teams in the conference standings. Evergreen has won only one conference game this year, knocking off Northwest Christian 74-64 on Dec. 18.
Since that win, Evergreen has lost 12 straight games to fall to 1-14 in conference play and 2-21 overall. The Geoducks' -11.4 average scoring margin is the worst in the league, and they allow a league-high .457 opponent shooting percentage.
Fresh off its third consecutive win, the Southern Oregon women's basketball team heads to Washington for its final road trip of the regular season this weekend.
Southern Oregon (18-8, 7-7 CCC) will take on Northwest on Friday in Kirkland before traveling to Olympia for a Saturday matchup against Evergreen. In the final two weeks of the regular season the Raiders are set to take on four of the bottom five teams in the CCC standings.
A buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the corner by Melissa Sweat forced overtime, and Sweat scored the final five points for the Raiders in overtime to earn an 82-80 win over archrival Oregon Tech on Saturday. The win helped solidify SOU's position in the conference standings and maintained the possibility of the Raiders hosting a CCC Tournament game.
The Raiders are currently fifth in the CCC standings, with the top eight teams set to advance to the postseason tournament. Southern Oregon is two games behind the Owls for the fourth spot and the right to host a first-round contest. If the season ended today, the Raiders would trek to Klamath Falls for a rubber-game matchup with the Owls.
The regular season concludes this weekend for the second-ranked Southern Oregon wrestling team, with the Raiders set to host Simpson and Pacific in a pair of rematches to close out the dual schedule.
Southern Oregon, 10-3 in duals this season to clinch a 43rd consecutive winning season, will take on Simpson for the second time in just over a week when the Red Hawks come to town on Friday at 7 p.m. A Senior Day matchup against in-state rival Pacific is set for Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Raiders defeated Simpson 37-12 in Redding last Thursday in the first-ever matchup between the two programs. The Redhawks have one dual win in their first season of competition and boast three ranked wrestlers in the latest NAIA rankings to total nine team points.
Saturday's rivalry matchup will be a chance for the Raiders to avenge their 27-18 loss to Pacific on Jan. 24. With almost all of SOU's starters receiving the week off, Pacific ended a 20-match losing streak to the Raiders stretching back to the 1999-2000 season. Southern Oregon has dominated the series with a 50-6 all-time record, and the Raiders will be looking to reestablish their position in the rivalry on Senior Night.
The Raiders will honor the six seniors Saturday before the dual and will host an ice cream social following the match. Southern Oregon's senior class includes Theodore Callaway, Jimmy Eggemeyer, Mitchell Lofstedt, Derek Mestrovich, Tyler Thomas and Hank Turner.