Despite having just two-of-seven teams in the boys division and one-of-six in the girls, teams from Alaska took two first-place finishes Saturday at FH Collins.
For the boys, the Juneau Douglas High School Bears defeated the FH Collins Warriors 72-54 in the finals, while in the girls division, in an all-Warriors final, the Walter Northway School Lady Warriors from Alaska beat the FH Collins Warriors 87-86 in an exciting double-overtime win.
Earlier in the day, the Vanier Crusaders defeated the Northway Warriors 94-70 for a third-place finish in the boys division. In the girls third/fourth game, the Porter Creek Rams A team mauled the Vanier Crusaders 74-28.
With just 17 seconds left in the second overtime Angela Burke sunk a pair of free throws to put FH Collins up by one. However, seconds later, Northway’s Shanice Albert found the hoop one last time to give her team an 87-86 win.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Northway coach Gerald Albert. “I told them they have to play with heart. They did.”
The game arrived at its first overtime when FH Collins Warrior Michelle McKay was fouled while driving to the net, earning a couple free throws. With 11 seconds left on the clock McKay sunk one to tie the game at 64.
Sinking two straight three-pointers to start OT, Northway surged to a 70-64 lead. In fact, the overtime had more than its fair share of three-pointers, with each team getting one in the final minute to tie at 73-73 and go to double OT.
“We kept trying the three pointers, but it didn’t work out,” said Albert. “Then they surprised me too. When they hit two in a row, I was thinking, ‘What’s going on?’”
“I think everyone was getting tired so they didn’t want to go in deep,” said FH Collins coach Ann Jirousek. “I can rely on their outside shooting more when they’re that tired because I run them to death in practice.”
Desiree Demit led the charge for Northway, scoring 29 points while teammate Katherine Albert put up 18.
However, the highest scorer of the game was FH Collins’ Chantai Minet with 32.
“I’ve had her since Grade 8 and she’s thinking about going on to play college ball,” said Jirousek of Minet. “She’ll be there. There’s a few girls on the team that I expect will move on (to college ball.)”
Northway advanced to the finals with a 79-31 win over the Vanier Crusaders. FH Collins players earned their ticket to the big game by beating the Rams A team 77-52.
Bears take title after
It’s third time’s the charm for the Juneau Bears. Appearing in their third-straight finals at the Road to the Gold, the Bears finally took the title with a 72-54 win over the FH Collins Warriors.
The Bears, a junior varsity team of Grade 9s and 10s, played three even quarters of ball against the senior Warriors team, ending the first up 16-15, the second down 33-30 and the third up 47-45.
However, the fourth was a different story. Held to just three field goals and three successful free throws, the Warriors were outscored 25-9.
“I think our guys ran out of gas,” said Warriors coach Jeff Cressman. “I had two guys away on holidays and they would have been in the starting line-up, so that kind of hurt us a bit.”
A big part of the Bears’ strategy was shutting down the Warriors’ Tony Nguyen, who ended the game with 23 points.
“Down the stretch we knew they were going to rely on him if they were going to have a chance to come back,” said Robert Casperson, coach for the Bears. “So we did everything we could to make sure he didn’t get the ball and if he did, we’d have two guys running at him.”
“That’s what we figured was going to happen,” said Cressman of the Bears’ strategy. “But the other guys didn’t step up and score and that was the end of that there.
“(Tony) is one of the best basketball players that will ever come out of the Yukon. He’ll be playing university ball somewhere for sure.”
The Bears defeated a Northway boys’ team in the semis under unusual circumstances. With only six players, the Northway team withdrew from the game in the third quarter after three of its players fouled out by exceeding the maximum of five fouls.
“A couple of their guys picked up four fouls in the first quarter,” said Casperson. “That’s a lot.”
The Warriors defeated the Crusaders B team 75-63 to advance to the championship round.
The two teams met in a round robin section of the tournament, ending in a reversed outcome.
“That game they got after us defensively and we turned the ball over, didn’t handle the pressure,” said Casperson. “Tonight we did a better job of not turning the ball over.”
Other top scorers for the Warriors were Dylan Salsbury and Afshin Armirtibar, with 14 and nine points. For the Bears Tony Vadao had 20 points while teammate Jazz King put 18 worth through the rim.
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