By Ray Hamill — A trio of former Big 5 players continue to leave their mark on the college basketball courts this winter, getting stronger as the season heats up.
Up at Whitman College, former Arcata standout Kaylie McCracken scored a game-high 20 points in a dominating performance on Tuesday, leading the Blues to a 77-74 win over Whitworth.
It was McCracken’s second highest points tally of the season for the 22-2 Blues, who are ranked seventh in the nation in NCAA Division-III.
According to the Whitman athletic website, “McCracken had her way in the paint in the second quarter, scoring seemingly at will to keep the Blues in the lead.”
The former Tiger is averaging 9.3 points a game, but has scored 12 or more in seven of her last nine games as she continues to lift the level of her play.
Likewise with a pair of former Eureka Loggers, Makaila Napoleon and Kaylee Murphy.
Napoleon is a freshman at Oregon Tech and has seen her game lift substantially late in the season.
The 2019 Eureka grad is averaging 7.4 points a game, but has scored in double digits in her last four outings.
She also has 26 rebounds in her last four games, well above her average.
The Owls are 17-11.
At UC Santa Cruz, meanwhile, 2018 Eureka grad Murphy is enjoying a record breaking campaign, having smashed the school record for most rebounds in a season with 282.
Murphy is averaging 12.8 boards a game, which is eighth best in the nation for D-III schools, as well as 13 points a game.
The Banana Slugs have been idle for almost two weeks and were recently named the top seed for the 2020 American Collegiate Athletic Association Conference tournament, which will take place at the end of the month.
They will open against tourney host Mt. Mary in Milwaukee on Feb. 29.