Ward sees a lot of positives in first year with Chukars

Treasure Valley Community College coach Andy Ward coaches in the Chukars’ win over Yakima Valley Community College on Wednesday night.

ONTARIO — While Andy Ward has been with Treasure Valley Community College as the athletic director for a year now, he’s now just a couple months into his secondary position as basketball coach. He said juggling the two responsibilities has been a community effort.

“It’s been a challenge,” Ward said. “But I get a lot of help from people around me.”

Ward cited TVCC athletics secretary Rachel Grace as someone who

“She keeps me in line,” Ward said, laughing.

Ward also acknowledged the help he gets from his peers, like softball coach Gordy Ogawa helping facilitate the home events when Ward is coaching, and interim baseball coach Brady Baker helping with sponsorships deals for the programs.

Ward is also getting help from an old friend this winter. Jeff Young, who previously worked as a volunteer assistant for the women’s basketball team, is now helping with the men’s team as well. Young and Ward previously coached together at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, where Ward was also the athletic director and the head men’s basketball coach.

“I lean on Jeff a lot,” Ward said. “We’re on the same page both when it comes to basketball and when it comes to the expectations of the student-athletes.”

Chukars looking to make playoff push

While Ward is a first-year coach following an interim coach, the Chukars are still in strong contention for a spot in the Northwest Athletic Conference Championship Tournament.

The Chukars are standing at 6-4 in NWAC East Region play and at fourth place. The Chukars do hold a win over Wenatchee Valley Community College, who are in the No. 3 spot and one game ahead of the Chukars.

Ward said consistency has been an issue for the Chukars this winter.

“I think we’re a little bit inconsistent,” Ward said. “But over the last several games we’ve played a little better. I really like the group we’ve got.”

The Chukars’ top scorer this winter has been Zach Phillips, who is averaging 16.4 points per game

DeVaughn Williams is averaging 12.4 points per game and is shooting a team-leading 45.7 percent from the three-point line.

Now a sophomore, Dajon Howe is averaging 13.1 points per game and a team-leading 5.3 assists per game.

As a freshman, Howe spent a lot of the season as a rule player while the team was being led by Carson Bischoff and Jaden Vaughn. But now Howe has taken over as the leader of the Chukars and his number show for it.

“DJ is our floor general. He’s our leader,” Ward said “But he also knows that every game takes a really good team effort. We all know that that’s what it’ll take for us to be successful.”

One of the biggest issues for the Chukars this year has been in their perimeter shooting. Treasure Valley holds a cumulative 33.7 shooting percentage from beyond the arc in NWAC East games (which puts the Chukars at 21st in the NWAC).

“We’ve struggled to shoot a little bit,” Ward said.

The Chukar defense has also been hot and cold this winter. The Chukars are averaging 10.3 steals per game, which is fourth best in the NWAC. The Chukars are also averaging a rebound margin of -9.8, which is 32nd in the NWAC.

“They work hard and when they play together and get after it defensively, we have success,” Ward said. “We play a lot of zone defense, so sometimes it’s harder to attack the rebounds.”

Nik Streng is the sports reporter for the Argus Observer. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 2015 with a master's degree in journalism, after graduating from Pacific University in 2013 with a degree in creative writing.

Load comments