In the opening match-up of the NWAC Men’s Elite 8, the #1 ranked and defending NWAC champions, North Idaho College Cardinals battled the #3 seed from the west, Centralia College Trailblazers.
The Cardinals defeated the Trailblazers 84-56. For the first 30 minutes the underdog, Centralia Trailblazers gave the Cardinals a tough battle.
After both teams traded baskets and leads, the Trailblazers took a 24-15 lead at the 10:18 mark of the first half. After the timeout, the Cardinals led by RayQuan Evans 16 first-half points tied the score at the half 34-34. Tyler Ashmore led the Trailblazers with 12 points. Centralia shot 48% for the half while the Cardinals shot 41% from the floor.
The Cardinals started the half on a 10-2 run with Centralia not scoring from the field for the first 5 minutes. At the first media timeout in the half, the Cardinals led 44-40. NIC continued to build the lead with Emmitt Taylor leading the way hitting four timely 3-point baskets on his way to 19 second half points. NIC athleticism, man to man defense, ball movement, and depth took control of the game. The Trailblazers only scored only three baskets in the first 12:30 of the second half.
NIC RayQuan Evans led the way for the Cardinals with 22 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists. Taylor III added 22 off the bench on 6-of-13 from deep.
North Idaho moves on to the Final Four next weekend and will play the winner of Green River CC vs. Lane CC.