Sports

Just five games into the 2011-12 basketball season, Eagle River’s boys already have more victories than last year.

The Wolves, who managed just two wins in the 2010-11 campaign, improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Cook Inlet Conference with a convincing 72-53 victory over visiting South Anchorage on Jan. 6 and a thrilling win at East on Jan. 10.

The decisive win signaled more than Eagle River’s first conference victory of the season, junior Shaquan Rhoades said. It showed wins won’t come easily against the Wolves this year, he said.

Eagle River High senior basketball player Chris Parker, 17, led the Wolves to a pair of CIC victories. On Jan. 6, Parker scored a team-high 16 points to lead the Wolves to their first conference win of the season over South. On Jan. 10, Parker’s go-ahead basket with under a second left gave Eagle River its second CIC win of the season, a 50-48 win over East. Parker is the son of Darnyell Parker and Kimberly Holland of Fort Richardson.

A 20-point, fourth-quarter surge was enough for South Anchorage to prevent Eagle River’s girls from winning their first basketball game in more than two years.

The visiting Wolverines started the final quarter on a 14-0 run to defeat the Wolves 65-55 on Jan. 6. The loss dropped Eagle River to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the conference.

Eagle River — which led the entire second and third quarters — couldn’t recover after losing standout Dana Panfil in the first minute of the second half, head coach Terra Bingham said.

Nicole Mrugala started 2012 the way she ended 2011 — perfect.

The senior Chugiak-Eagle River netminder turned aside all 25 shots from Dimond-West to earn her second straight shutout in CER’s 2-0 win Jan. 4 at Ben Boeke Ice Arena. Mrugala recorded a 17-save shutout against Service-East on Dec. 16 in CER’s final game before the holiday break.

Dimond-West threw more shots on net through the first two periods than Service-East did all game — but that didn’t faze Mrugala.

Chris Parker led four Eagle River Wolves in double figures with 16 points to lead his team to a 72-53 Cook Inlet Conference win over South Friday night at Eagle River. The win moved the Wolves to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the CIC.

Also winning Friday night were the Chugiak girls, who got 11 points off the bench from Brandi Bookout to key a 46-38 win over Service to move to 2-0 in the CIC.

Chugiak High senior Jessi McMullen, 17, helped the Mustangs to a second-place finish and was named to the all-tournament team at the Cactus Jam girls basketball tournament in Phoenix on Dec. 27-30. McMullen also added 10 points in Chugiak’s 64-39 CIC win over West Anchorage on Tuesday, Jan. 3. This is McMullen’s third year on varsity. She is the daughter of Greg and Carrie McMullen of Eagle River.

Missing the state tournament last year has Chugiak High’s girls basketball team more motivated for this season. But it won’t be easy getting there this year.

Only the top two Cook Inlet Conference teams will earn automatic state berths. Other automatic Class 4A berths include two from the Northern Lights Conference and one from the Southeast and Mid Alaska conferences.

The final two spots will be determined by Winning Percentage Index standings. This is the first time WPI will be used to determine who goes to state.

Different year, same problem.

Eagle River High girls basketball again is suffering from low numbers. The 2011-12 team has just six full-time varsity players and two JV swingers.

It’s a problem that’s plagued the Wolves since senior captain Meaghan Byman started playing as a sophomore.

“The problem is we have a new team every year,” she said. “That’s a big key to our unsuccessfulness.”

Missing state last year coupled with the new rule that guarantees only two Cook Inlet Conference berths in the postseason this year, Chugiak’s girls didn’t need any extra motivation heading into their first CIC game Tuesday, Jan. 3. But they got it.

Coming into their matchup with West Anchorage, the Mustangs were dubbed “the mystery team.” That nickname only lasted eight minutes.

First-year head coach Fred Young doesn’t care that Eagle River High only won two games last year. He doesn’t care that 10 of his 12 players are new to the team.

His sights are set on making the state tournament and changing the attitude of the boys basketball team.

“We’re looking to change the culture,” Young said. “We want to make state and get what we can on the way there.”

The entire team feels the same way, Young said.

“Their work ethic is out the roof right now,” he said.

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