‘Just us as a family’: Team effort propels Chugiak into state hoops semifinal

Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 19:28
  • Chugiak players huddle together before the start of their 69-66 win over West Valley in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Class 4A Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Chugiak’s Caitlin Wachmann goes to the basket past West Valley’s Sierra Tate during Chugiak’s 69-66 win over West Valley in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Class 4A Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Chugiak’s Chasity Horn, right, battles West Valley’s Sierra Tate for a rebound during Chugiak’s 69-66 win over West Valley in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Class 4A Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Chugiak’s Caro Houser puts up a shot against a pair of West Valley defenders during Chugiak’s 69-66 win over West Valley in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Class 4A Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Chugiak’s Cheyenne Young reaches for a loose ball during Chugiak’s 69-66 win over West Valley in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Class 4A Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Chugiak’s Eva Palmer drives past West Valley’s Hadley Blasey during Chugiak’s 69-66 win over West Valley in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Class 4A Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Chugiak head coach Ryan Hales talks to his team during the Mustangs’ 69-66 win over West Valley in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Class 4A Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Chugiak’s Eva Palmer drives to the basket against West Valley’s Ali May during Chugiak’s 69-66 win over West Valley in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Class 4A Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Chugiak players celebrate during the team’s 69-66 win over West Valley in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Class 4A Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Chugiak’s Ari Lewis goes up for a shot during the Mustangs’ 69-66 win over West Valley in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Class 4A Girls State Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)
  • Chugiak’s Layla Beam takes a jump shot during her team’s 69-66 win over West Valley in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Class 4A Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage on Thursday, March 21, 2019. (Matt Tunseth / Chugiak-Eagle River Star)

Moments after celebrating their biggest win of the season Thursday, all Chugiak’s players wanted to do Thursday was talk about the little things.

“We are able to find the little, small happinesses,” said Chugiak junior Chasity Horn, who scored a game-high 29 points as the Mustangs knocked off West Valley 69-66 in the opening round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Girls Class 4A State Basketball Tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.

While Horn was a scoring machine, it was Chugiak’s role players who helped power the team over the top, she said. Whether it was a crucial charge drawn by Caitlin Wachmann, a clutch rebound by Ari Lewis or a loose ball chased down by Cheyenne Young, Horn said every player on the team contributed to the win.

“My biggest motivator is when we’re all doing something,” said Horn, who also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and nabbed four steals.

Chugiak senior point guard Eva Palmer said this year’s team has a special bond that can be seen in its cohesive play on the court.

“We tend to motivate off each other’s success,” said Palmer, who scored 10 points and dished two assists.

She said head coach Ryan Hales constantly stresses the need for players to do the little things.

“Ryan is always telling us it’s the little details that win the game,” she said.

That was certainly the case Thursday in a game that was tied 36-36 at the half and 51-51 heading into the fourth quarter. Chugiak took the lead for good with just over a minute to play in a seesaw final quarter when Lewis grabbed an offensive rebound and Palmer finished with a drive to make it 66-64. Lewis later helped seal the game when she batted Horn’s missed free throw back to the junior, who calmly sank two free throws to ice the game.

“It’s those details that win games,” Hales said.

Layla Beam scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds for the Mustangs, who got eight points each from Young and Lewis, three from Averie Carlos and one point, one block and one big charge from Wachmann.

“We all can contribute in a different way,” Palmer said.

Sheridan Blasey scored a team-high 17 points for the Wolfpack, who got 14 from Ellen Silva and 11 each from Sierra Tate and Jozey Martellaro.

The Mustangs will play Bartlett at 5 p.m. Friday in an all-Cook Inlet Conference semifinal Friday. The Golden Bears — who went 2-1 against Chugiak this season — knocked off Wasilla 52-48 in Thursday’s final 4A semifinal. In Friday’s other semifinal, Dimond will face Soldotna at 3:30 p.m.

Horn said Chugiak is excited to still be alive at state both because it allows them to keep chasing their seasonlong dream of a title but also because it means they’ve got one last weekend to spend together.

“It’s just us as a family,” she said. “That’s not something everybody has.”

Email Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected] or call 257-4274

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