Birchwood Christian secures third at state
After its nine-game winning streak was snapped against top-seeded Noatak the night before, Birchwood Christian went into the offseason on a high note by capturing third place 56-41 over Newhalen in the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska 1A Basketball State Championships.
Led by 17 points and 9 rebounds from Peter Swanberg and a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds from Seth Alexander, the Warriors blew open a game that they trailed by a point at halftime.
Birchwood Christian (22-4), making its first tournament appearance in five years, outscored Newhalen 37-21 in the second half, including a 21-9 margin in the fourth quarter.
Tanner Reich added 11 points and 5 rebounds; Landen Wohrle didn’t score but grabbed 8 boards; brother Logan Wohrle had 6 points and 7 rebounds.
“My boys play really good in the morning,” said coach Micah Ellington. “It’s a blessing to be here again. The Lord’s really blessed us with some great ballplayers. We had a great season.”
SEMIFINALS: Birchwood Christian, 45, Noatak, 64
A defensive surge in the final minute of the first half brought the Birchwood Christian Warriors within eight points of top-seeded Noatak, but that was as close as it got as the Eagles coasted in the second half to a 64-45 state tournament semifinal win Friday afternoon.
Player of the game Peter Swanberg, the only Warrior in double figures with 10 points, tipped a pass resulting in a turnover and teammate Landen Worhlie denied a breakaway layup to give the Warriors momentum heading into the third quarter, but the lead doubled for Noatak by the period’s end.
“We were hanging right in there, my guys are tough, they were playing hard defense, but when the other team is shooting 50 percent from the field, and we still shoot 40 percent from the field, the better team won tonight,” Ellington said.
Michael Balos added 7 points 5 rebounds; Wohrle had 5 points and 7 boards for the Warriors.
QUARTERFINALS: Birchwood Christian, 40, Kipnuk, 35
The Warriors survived a seesaw battle with Kipnuk by a 40-35 margin.
Peter Swanberg was the only Warrior in double figures with 19 points along with 6 rebounds. Logen Wohrle added 8 points and 4 boards.
FIRST ROUND: Birchwood Christian, 60, James C. Isabelle (Teller) High, 30
The Birchwood Christian Warriors ran their winning streak to eight straight with a 60-30 win against James C. Isabelle High in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska 1A Basketball State Championships.
Since starting the season 0-2, the Warriors had won of 20 of 21 entering the game but got off to a slow start and led just 7-6 after the first quarter before outscoring the team from Teller 53-24 over the next three.
“You’re talking about some nerves, that was crazy,” said Birchwood Christian Coach Micah Ellington. “Big, big change to even region tournaments, just the atmosphere, the big arena … a total blessing to see and to be part of.”
Michael Balos paced Birchwood Christian with 18 points and was joined in double figures by teammates Peter Swanberg and Seth Alexander with 12 each. Tanner Reich chipped in 9 for the Warriors.