HOOPS WRAP: Eagle River captures Birchwood Bowl in season finale against Chugiak
Employing a stifling trap defense the Chugiak Mustangs held the visiting Eagle River Wolves scoreless for the entire first period of their Saturday night game. On most nights, that portends a good outcome.
This night however, would be different. The Mustangs (15-10, 8-5) led by a scant four points then, and coach Jocquis Sconiers was right to be worried. At the end of yet another pounding Mustangs vs. Wolves basketball game, the annual Birchwood Bowl trophy was being hoisted by the team in dark blue for the first time in quite a few seasons after a 38-31 victory.
With starters Ty Carlos and Derryk Snell sidelined with injuries, the argument could be made that the Mustangs were hobbled.
Still, Sconiers said, he would offer no excuses.
“We just gotta do a better job,” he said. “Free throws, free throws is the game. You can’t shoot 5 for 18 and expect to win a basketball game.”
He lauded Eagle River (12-11, 6-7), saying that, “Coach Adkins is doing a good job, those kids are working hard and he is making those guys believe.”
“We were able to hit some free throws down the stretch,” Wolves coach Bob Adkins said, adding that “it’s always defense and free throws — and these kids are starting to believe, after years and years and years, and that’s good for our community.”
Once again Ryan Adkins was a force for the Wolves, scoring a dozen points while Aaron Davis chipped in 10, mostly from his hard work inside. Jean Gonzalez drove hard to the hoop for 6 of his 7 and Jacob Thompson hit a pair of shots.
“I love playing in this gym,” Adkins said from the floor following the game, “It’s always a good rivalry, it’s always a good game, and it just to happens we came out on the winning side of this game.”
For the Mustangs, Lincoln Oldham led the way with 10, Kade Worley put in eight and Josh Wilson had six points.
In the visitor’s quarters long after the game, Coach Adkins could be heard praising his team with words that have not echoed in years off an Eagle River locker room wall: “Believe that you can beat any team in the state.”
CIC tourney up next
The Wolves will have to take Adkins advice to heart because they likely have to make a run to the finals of the Cook Inlet Conference Tournament to earn a state berth.
The CIC Tournament will be held March 5-10 at West Anchorage High.
The Chugiak Lady Mustangs (17-7, 9-4), who beat Eagle River 60-7 and South Anchorage 63-28 last Saturday and Monday, respectively, traveled to Bartlett on Wednesday, Feb. 28, for the regular season finale after the Star went to press.
Currently locked into the third seed in the CIC regardless of the Bartlett outcome, the Lady Mustangs should have a strong shot at an at-large bid to the state tournament starting March 22 if they don’t make the finals of the CIC.
There are two automatic bids awarded from the CIC and two at-large bids awarded from across the state.
The Chugiak boys, who suffered a five-game losing streak after losing two of its top players in Snell and Carlos, bounced back with a 72-42 win against South on Monday to get back on track.
The Mustangs, who were trying to secure the third seed in the CIC against Bartlett on Wednesday, should be in position to nab one of the two at-large bids to state as there are only eight out of 20 schools at the 4A level with winning records in the Alaska School Activities Association Winning Percentage Index rankings.