Salish Kootenai College women’s basketball coach Silas Perez is anything but content with his Lady Bison’s third-place finish in last year’s American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) basketball tournament.
Perez, who has assumed the coaching duties for his brother Juan Perez while he coaches the Polson High School Lady Pirates basketball team, expects the Lady Bison to do only one thing at the end of the season: hoist another AIHEC championship trophy.
“We always believe that we should finish first,” Silas Perez said. “If we finished third, that is not what we were working towards. We are working towards being the best Tribal College basketball school in the nation. Finishing third was a little disappointing, but we lost to the team that ended up winning the championship. We have something to work towards this year.”
This year, Perez and his coaching staff’s hands are full with trying to reorganize nearly an entirely new roster of players.
“We have three returners from last year’s team and two bench players,” Perez said. “That means we have 11 new women on our team and it is a daunting task, to say the least. I believe this will be a solid bunch once we get everything figured out.”
The three Lady Bison returners include Nina Orozco-Charlo, Verlina Whiteman and Braylee Stone.
The Lady Bison, just like their male counterparts, have embarked on a loaded schedule playing predominantly teams from the Frontier League that feature several players that are NCAA Division I-caliber talent that chose to go to smaller schools for an assortment of reasons.
“The Frontier Conference has a lot of fierce, excellent teams so our team has taken our lumps this past weekend but that doesn’t reflect on the team,” Perez said. “We have to play basketball for 40 minutes. It can’t be two minutes there or two minutes here. Our team is going to have some growing pains, but we will be alright in the end and that only is going to make us stronger.”
WHEN SKC plays against some of the premier talents in the Pioneer League, they will continue to work toward their ultimate goal of an AIHEC championship.
When they are playing the Tribal colleges, they are going to face excellent teams and generally we get their best effort,” Perez said. “This year, we want to be on the team that is hunted and not in the hunt for another AIHEC championship. Like I said, we want to reclaim our AIHEC championship.”
The Bison will have a solid rotation of players they can rotate as their roster includes a total of 14 starters.
“We have 14 women, we will have a big bench and probably 10 or maybe 11 of those players have a good understanding of the game,” Perez said.
Perez, who has true student athletes with all non-scholarship players, prides himself on his players being good citizens on and off the court as they head into the 2018-19 season.
“This is a great group of women and student athletes,” Perez said. “The Special Olympics approached us and the basketball clinic for our athletes. When the team they worked with was in Oregon, they ended up taking first. My players were coaches at that clinic and we take a tremendous amount of pride in what they accomplished.”
Perez and his coaching staff have a group of players who are true student athletes competing against Pioneer League schools, who can disburse scholarships.
“The biggest advantage over us is that they recruit basketball players,” Perez said. “We have players who just happen to be basketball players. That is the difference between them and us. They have players that are recruited and our players weren’t recruited. They just happen to go to SKC and play basketball.”
THE SKC MEN’S and women’s teams host the Founder’s Week Classic this Friday and Saturday.
Walla Walla 69, SKC 46
SKC, Pablo 5 9 14 18 – 46
Walla Walla 11 19 26 13 – 69
SALISH KOOTENAI COLLEGE – Camille Whiteman 8 1-4 17 (9r,2s,3b), Kylie Coby 5 2-2 13 (4r,5a,2s), Nina Orozco-Charlo 2 4-6 9 (2r,3a,6s), Braylee Stone 3 0-0 6 (8r1a), Roselynne Parker 1 (2r,1a) Gabrielle Houle 0 (1r,1s), Ashley Tryon 0 (2r), tm (2r).
WALLA WALLA UNIVERSITY – 25-53 12-17 69 (39r, 11a,13s,2b).
3FG – SKC 2-16 (Coby 1-5, Orozco-Charlo 1-11), WWU 7-20 (Raegen Williams 2-3). (Su11Nov18)
Multnomah 80, SKC 45
SKC, Pablo 11 8 12 14 – 45
Portland, OR 26 17 21 16 – 80
SALISH KOOTENAI COLLEGE – Braylee Stone 4 0-0 9 (9r1a,2s), Kylie Coby 3 2-2 9 (4r,2a,1s), Nina Orozco-Charlo 3 1-3 7 (6r,3a,7s), Roselynne Parker 3 1-2 7 (5r,1a,1s) Ashley Tryon 2 2-6 6 (4r,2s), Gabrielle Houle 2 0-0 4 (1r), Camille Whiteman 1 1-6 3 (4r), tm (3r).
MULTNOMAH UNIVERSITY – 32-66 8-14 80 (55r,19a,10s,6b).
3FG – SKC 2-22 (Stone 1-3, Coby 1-5), MU 8-24 (Bethany George 3-7). (Fr09Nov18)
— John Heglie contributed to this article.