NAIA nationals now for local hoopsters

Not two but three area grads will be competing in NAIA Division III nationals this week.
   Elise Hawes of Eastern Oregon is also headed to nationals. The junior is a 2004 Madras grad after being part of the White Buffalos' 2003 state championship team.
   Fellow Madras grad Tosha Wilson of Corban and Culver grad Nate Lewis at Oregon Tech will also compete in the NAIA nationals.
   Eastern Oregon (25-6) drew the toughest test, opening against defending champion Hasting (Neb.) College at 2 p.m. today. Hastings is 26-6 entering the tourney.
   Corban (27-6) has a 7:15 p.m. Thursday contest against Sterling (Kan.), entering with a 26-5 mark. The women's tourney is in Sioux City, Iowa.
   Oregon Tech (27-4) begins its tournament with a 10 a.m. Thursday contest against Northwood (Fla.), a team with a 23-8 mark. The men's tourney is in Point Lookout, Mo.
   Both tournaments are single elimination events, lasting through Tuesday. A team needs to win four games to advance to the championship game.
   Hawes is a part-time starter, averaging 6.0 points a game. The 5-foot-9 guard is the Mountaineers' third-leading rebounder with 137 including 49 on the offensive end for a 4.4 average.
   Hawes also has 29 steals and 31 assists. In the semifinal win of the Cascade Conference, Hawes had a productive all-around game against Albertson. The junior finished with four points, two rebounds, two steals and two assists as Eastern Oregon extended its winning streak to 13 games.
   That streak ended with a 59-58 loss to Corban in the conference championship. Hawes had two points and two rebounds.
   Former Madras teammate Wilson helped clinch Corban's victory with a last-second steal. It was her fifth along with five assists and six points.
   Wilson goes into the NAIA nationals averaging 11.4 points, 2.9 steals, 5.3 assists and 4.6 rebounds a game.
   For OIT, the redshirt sophomore Lewis is a reserve guard. He is averaging 3.2 points a game as an outside shooting specialist. Lewis hit 40 percent (29-72) from beyond the arc this season.