Mabton’s Trishi Williams and Yakima Valley Community College’s Rico Wilkins have been front and center in explosive starts by the Western Washington University women’s and men’s basketball teams.

Williams, a 5-foot-9 senior starting forward, is averaging 11.2 points and 4.9 rebounds for the WWU women, who are ranked 20th nationally and recently posted two impressive victories at the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic in Las Vegas.

The Vikings (8-2) defeated sixth-ranked Washburn (Kan.) 64-62, and 15th-ranked Grand Canyon 72-68 in overtime. They will visit Alaska Anchorage on Jan. 3 and Alaska Fairbanks on Jan. 5.

Williams, who starred for two seasons at Columbia Basin College before transferring to WWU, was named MVP of the Vikings’ Lynda Goodrich Classic, and will be featured in a future column by this writer.

The 6-0 Wilkins, was the 2009 East Region MVP as a Yakima Valley sophomore and helped the Yaks to a 22-6 record and an NWAACC tournament semifinal berth. He’s averaging 10.6 points as the sixth man for the defending NCAA Division II national champion Western men. Wilkins came to YVCC from DeSoto High School in Dallas, Texas, and sat out the 2009-10 season.

After winning the national title last March, Wilkins and the Viks are 9-0, ranked No. 5 nationally and riding a 15-game winning streak going into a Dec. 30 nonconference game with Thompson Rivers (British Columbia) in Bellingham, where Western has won 14 straight.

WWU will then travel to Seattle Pacific for a Jan. 3 showdown with seventh-ranked Seattle Pacific.