They hail from seven different states, but carry one common goal at Tacoma Community College.
Win a Northwest Athletic Conference men’s basketball championship.
Even though the Titans barely got into the NWAC tournament, they’ve made the most of their opportunity.
Last weekend at Everett Community College, they upset top-ranked North Idaho, 86-81, in the opening round. And they followed that up with a 75-64 victory over Peninsula in the quarterfinals.
TCC (17-13) is now in the semifinals for the first time since 2012 when it won the second of two NWAC titles under former coach Carl Howell. The Titans meet Umpqua in the semifinals Saturday at 6 p.m. in Everett.
This is not a bad run under coach Thomas “TJ” Caughell, who took over in 2014 with just two holdover players on the roster.
“Everybody is buying into their role,” TCC guard Khalil Thompson said. “There is no backbiting. We are together. It is a unit. And we are winning games.”
Caughell, who played guard at both Lane Community College and Southern Oregon University, stresses defense. And this season, he welcomed in Ravion Bell, a 6-foot-9 center from South Carolina who set the NWAC single-season mark for blocked shots with 96 (and counting).
Thompson, who is from Las Vegas, is the team’s leading scorer, ranking fifth in the NWAC in points per game (21.0).
“I came out here knowing Tacoma was big on basketball,” said Thompson, who lists Curtis High School graduate Isaiah Thomas as his idol. “Las Vegas is home, but I represent Tacoma while I am here.”
Forward Kahliel Wyatt is also a bona fide scorer, but had a personal crisis to shake off when 30 members of his family were evacuated in February after the Oroville Dam in California threatened to break.
“It was scary … but my family got out days before the evacuation,” Wyatt said. “They were calling me every day, telling me they were fine.”
Three Tacoma products — Stadium’s Jordan Powers, Foss’ Stephon Shaw and Tacoma Baptist’s Dayton Pascua — are all key contributors.
“This community is great,” Wyatt said. “They are all about basketball here. The fans are great.
“It is like a home here.”