by Tommy Wells
John Fredericks scored 12 of his game-high 24 points in the second half and helped the Bethel Regional High School rally for a 53-33 victory over the Nome-Beltz Nanooks in the second-place game at the 2018 Western Conference Basketball Championships at Dimond High School in Anchorage. With the win, Bethel clinched the conference’s runner-up berth to the upcoming Class 3A state tournament.
Nome-Beltz didn’t make the win easy early on.
Keyed by solid performances from Stephen Anderson and Bobby Kozuna, the Nanooks outscored Bethel in the first half and raced to a slim 23-22 lead at the half. The two combined to score 13 of Nome’s first-half points.
Fredericks put an end to the Nanooks’ dreams quickly in the third quarter. He ignited an 11-2 start to the second half by taking a pass inside and turning it into a 24-23 lead. Jamin Crow, Clevon Constantine and Ray Daniel followed Fredericks’ basket with shots of their own. Constantine finished the BRHS surge in grand fashion moments later by pulling up from the corner and draining a three-point shot that put Bethel up 33-25.
BRHS never looked back from there.
Constantine and Fredericks added back-to-back shots in the final 59 seconds of the third and helped Bethel extend its lead to 10, at 41-31, heading into the final eight minutes.
The BRHS defense shut down Nome in the fourth, holding the Nanooks to just a single basket.
Fredericks scored six points in the fourth and helped Bethel salt away the win with a 12-2 run in the final stanza.
Constantine was the only other Bethel scorer to reach double figures in the win, netting 12.
Bethel fell into the second-place game following a 69-37 loss to Barrow on Friday in the conference championship game.
Barrow broke open a tight 16-13 game at the end of the first eight minutes of play by reeling off a 22-9 spree in the second quarter. The Whalers carried a 38-22 lead into the half.
Barrow, which has won the Western Conference tournament title in each of the last four years, stretched its lead to 27, at 57-30, with a 19-8 run in the third.
Constantine led all BRHS scorers in the loss with 16 points. Fredericks added six, while Daniel and Darrell Garrison chalked up four apiece. Jamin Crow, Lawrence Poe, Avery Hoffman and Max Black all pitched in two.
Bethel, the No. 2 seed in the double-elimination tournament, kicked off play with a victory over Nome in the first round of play.
The Class 3A state tournament will get underway on March 22nd at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.