MOSES LAKE — At 5-foot-2, all former Wahluke standout Jacky Hidalgo was looking for was a chance to play at the next level.
Just give me a shot was the thought of the day when she joined the Big Bend Community College women’s basketball team and now she’s a part of Vikings history.
The Vikings (25-4, 14-2 East) became the first Big Bend team since 2002-03 to win the NWAC East Region. That, of course, means they return to the NWAC Tournament for the second consecutive season, again, something that hasn’t happened since 2001-02 and 2002-03.
They will face Mt. Hood in the first round of the NWAC Tournament on March 9.
“Every day is a new challenge, but I think I’m showing them why I was recruited,” the former Wahluke point guard said. “I’ve been working on discipline and making sure everything is perfect. The girls are way taller than I’m used to, so you have to be quick.
“What I learned playing in Mattawa was to go hard every game. I like playing against kids from bigger schools, from different states. You have to play a little different and work on your skills.”
The Vikings won it all in 2002 in a remarkable season that featured an all-East Region Final Four at the NWACs. The following season at the Tri-Cities Coliseum, Big Bend finished second behind Chemeketa and the East Region put four teams in the top eight.
Big Bend goes into the NWAC Tournament on a nine-game winning streak, averaging 79.6 points a game with an .862 winning percentage. They had a little two-game hiccup with back-to-back losses with Walla Walla and Wenatchee Valley midway through the second half, but rectified it in the end to clinch the first East Region championship in 16 years.
Hidalgo is a role player, coming off the bench and did see time in the regular season finale when Big Bend won at Walla Walla to clinch the regional championship. She’s played in 20 games so far, 82 minutes coming off the bench. The former Warrior standout is 4 of 16 from the floor and 5 of 8 from the free-throw line. She has seven rebounds, five on the offensive end, nine assists and 10 steals going into the postseason.
“It’s a lot faster than I’m used to. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication in practice every day,” she said. “I’ve been working on passing it to where they’re supposed to be, and not just passing it where they are.”