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Weber State basketball: Wildcats plan on finishing strong

Wildcats will wrap up regular season with a pair of road games

CHENEY, Wash. — Technically, Weber State has little to play for in its final two regular season games.

The Wildcats, who play at Eastern Washington tonight and at Portland State on Sunday, have already clinched a share of the Big Sky title and the right to host the conference tournament. They need just one victory in its final two games — or a loss by Northern Colorado — to win the Big Sky title outright.

Weber State, however, plans to approach its final two games like any other contests this season. The Wildcats, who have won four straight and 17 of their last 21, hope to keep their momentum going into the postseason.

"I think the team agrees with me that we got two more games to do," said center Steve Panos. "We don't want to share this thing. We want to go out on the road and get a couple wins and have the title outright."

Coach Randy Rahe said he isn't worried about winning the Big Sky title outright. He's more interested in preparing and playing this week like it's any other week.

"We've talked about two goals we have when we start the season: get better every day in practice and win our next game — that's all we talk about," Rahe said. "If you do that and stay focused on that, then you'll have a chance. If you start worrying about winning this or winning that … it's all crazy. There's no reason to get crazy. I'm not smart enough to worry about too much stuff other than that day's practice."

There's a chance Weber State will be facing teams playing for their postseason lives in both games this week. Eastern Washington needs to defeat Weber State and have the Wildcats and Idaho State beat Portland State to qualify for the conference tournament. Portland State could be in a do-or-die situation depending on other results when facing the Wildcats in a game that will be televised by Altitude on Sunday afternoon.

Weber State had little trouble with Eastern Washington the first time the two teams played this season, blasting the Eagles 89-67 at the Dee Events Center last month. The Eagles have won only two of their last nine games, but both wins came at home and against quality opponents in Montana and Montana State.

Portland State, which has represented the Big Sky in the last two NCAA tournaments, is reeling. The Vikings have lost five straight games, but still control their own destiny in reaching the conference tourney.

Weber State is the first team since Northern Arizona in 1997-98 to capture the No. 1 seed in the Big Sky tourney in consecutive seasons. The Wildcats have won at least a share of three of the last four conference titles. They believe that by staying focused tonight and on Sunday, they'll keep rolling into the postseason.

"Everyone for the most part has stayed pretty humble and has a good mindset," Panos said. "They understand what we need to do. I think our leadership and our coaching staff will keep everyone on the same page."

Wildcats on the air

Weber State at Eastern Washington

Today, 8 p.m.

Radio: 1430 AM

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com