Chugiak girls look to future after fourth-place finish
Having just finished fourth in the state tournament with an impressive 66-47 win against West Anchorage in the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska 4A Girls Basketball State Championships, sixth-year Chugiak coach Ryan Hales has reason to be optimistic for the future with his family of young athletes.
Sophomore and all-tournament selection Chasity Horn stayed hot throughout the tournament, finishing with 20 points against the Eagles last Saturday, which followed a career-high 30 against Ketchikan to reach the consolation bracket final.
Horn averaged 23.3 points in three games.
Freshmen Caitlin Wachmann and Ariana Lewis contributed 10 each and junior Eva Palmer tossed in nine in the fourth-place game against West.
The Mustangs raced out to a 25-10 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. They were hot from downtown shooting nearly 46 percent on 11 of 24 attempts. Wachmann and Cheyenne Young were 2-of-2 each for the Mustangs, who also forced 26 turnovers with 21 steals led by Horn’s 6 and Palmer’s 4.
Their 18 regular-season wins built on totals of 16 and 15 in the previous two years.
“We’ve just constantly been able to put ourselves in a situation to compete, have a positive outcome, and have the kids buy into our system, Hale said.”
Hales's system is one that emphasizes a family approach.
“It’s not just about basketball to us,” said Hales.
“I always say this to my kids: ‘If you give me your heart, I’ll give you mine.’ It’s that full commitment, right. You’ve got to commit to your team, you have to commit to your family, you have to give 100 percent.”
Hales will have 10 returning players next year to augment a core of Palmer, Layla Beam and Horn. With Houser our against Ketchikan, Beam cleaned the glass for 13 boards.
“What I’m excited about,” said Hales, “is we’re super young.”
“Last year we had six seniors and we lost in the first round to East, which was tough, but to lose all that experience and to come back as strong as we did and still get fourth place, I’m really impressed with our kids.”
Leaving the team will be seniors Gina Kodiak and leading rebounder Patricia Houser. Houser’s offense was missed in the final half of tournament play when she re-injured her shoulder.
“Tricia’s a heck of an athlete, if she we’re at 100 percent, we might have been able to finish even better than fourth,” said Hales.
Houser, who sat out a year after transferring from East, was impressed with the family atmosphere at Chugiak.
“It felt like a family to me, of all the teams I have played with, this is the one I’ve been closest to,” she said.
With 10 returning players there will be a lot of familiar faces for Hales and after their consecutive appearances in the state tournament, and a regular season record that has seen year-to-year improvement, the family is looking young, talented and strong for the future.
Chugiak 49, Ketchikan 30
Horn matched Ketchikan’s 30 points with a career-high effort to put the Mustangs in the fourth-place game of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska 4A Basketball State Championships with a 49-30 victory last Friday afternoon.
After a slow start in round one, there was no problem in the consolation bracket as Chugiak jumped out to a 16-8 lead after the first quarter and led 27-14 at half.
Neither team shot well, with Ketchikan going 11 of 42 and Chugiak not much better at 15 of 64, but the Mustangs’ defense forced 24 turnovers to account for the disparity in shot attempts.
The big difference was from downtown as Horn shot 6 of 8 from 3-point range and her teammates went 0 for 12. Ketchikan made just 1 of 10 from deep to account for most of the final scoring margin.
With Patricia Houser sidelined with an injured shoulder, Layla Beam cleaned the glass with 13 rebounds. Horn and Caitlin Wachmann grabbed 8 boards each.
No other Mustang scored more than 5 points but they combined to outrebound Ketchikan 45-21.
“She had a phenomenal game,” said Hales of Horn, who added that his pregame conversation with the team included the reminder that “there is no tomorrow, we have to perform.”
Chugiak faced West Anchorage, who beat West Valley 55-45 earlier in the day for fourth place.
Chugiak 43, Wasilla 52
The Chugiak Mustangs started out slowly in the first half of their first round game against Wasilla last Thursday night.
They started so slowly that their first field goal came with just over a minute to go in the first quarter when they trailed by a 21-5 margin.
The Mustangs were rarely able to penetrate the Warriors’ defense in the first quarter, and when they did, the ball seldom fell in for them as they went 14 of 34 for the game.
“We came out flat,” said Hales.
The Mustangs began to reel in the Warriors, cutting the deficit to 11 by the end of the half, but the struggles continued in the third when Patricia Houser, their major inside force, re-injured her shoulder on a fall near the basket.
After attempting to re-enter the game, she left for good, keeping an ice bag company for the rest of the proceedings.
“We are a completely different team without Patricia,” said Hales, understating the issue.
The Mustangs are also completely different when one of their leading scorers is held off the board, as happened to junior Palmer.
Despite playing hard defense all night, she struggled offensively against the Warriors, especially the taller Olivia Davies who guarded her throughout.
Their grit showed in the stats, as the Mustangs out-rebounded the Warriors on the offensive boards by an 9-2 margin, and kept pace in overall rebounds at 20-19.
They made four fewer field goals than the Warriors, and three fewer free throws for the difference.
Horn led the Mustangs with 20 points, starting and ending the second half with dramatic long-range threes and aggressively driving the lane in the second half. Lewis dropped in 8 points, Beam 4 and Carolina Houser had 2.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled the names of Chugiak player Chasity Horn and coach Ryan Hales.