by Tommy Wells
For the first 20 minutes of the Bethel Regional High School’s showdown for fourth-place at the 2017 ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Class 3A State Basketball Championships, the Warriors had their way. In the final 3:33 of the game, they did pretty well, too.
It was that 3-minute span midway through the fourth quarter that Anchorage Christian – no, better make that ACS’s Collin Smallwood – caught fire, and single-handedly helped lift ACS to a stunning 52-50 come-from-behind victory in front of a large crowd in the Wells Fargo Complex. All Smallwood did was bury four three-point shots in a span of 2:47 scoring 12 points and helping the Lions erase an 8-point BRHS lead.
“ACS is a very good team,” said BRHS senior Jayvin Williams. “During that stretch, he was just three after three. He was just on fire and we couldn’t stop him even when we were up on him and had our hands in his face.”
Even with Smallwood’s heroics, Bethel still had a chance to pull out a win at the end. After ACS’ Orlando Luzano had broken a 50-50 deadlock with a 10-foot from the right baseline, Bethel got the ball.
With just 3 seconds left in regulation, the Warriors inbounded and drove the length of the floor before Darrell Garrison fired off a three-point shot from the right wing that bounced off the rim.
James Flemings helped Bethel got off to a good start in the fourth. He knocked down a pair of free throws at the 6:41 mark to give the Warriors an 8-point lead, at 40-32.
Smallwood went to work from there. He keyed a 13-2 run over the next 2:47 and put ACS on top 45-42 and set up the wild finish.
With the loss, Bethel finished the tournament with a 1-2 record and sixth in the final team standings.
Williams led all BRHS scorers in the loss to ACS with 19 points. Flemings added eight, while Ray Daniel led the defense with eight rebounds.
Bethel kicked off the tournament with a tough 47-28 setback to Grace Christian in the first round of the tournament on Thursday. In the loss, BRHS was outrebounded by a stunning 28-14 clip.
Additionally, the team shot just 11 of 35 from the field, including 1-for-9 from behind the three-point arc.
Clevon Constantine led BRHS offensively with seven points. Williams and Daniel added six and four, respectively.
The Warriors rallied back from their loss to Grace Christian nicely in the second round by downing Delta Junction, 57-44.
In the win, Constantine posted a double-double, netting 12 points and 13 rebounds. Garrison also added 12 points, while Flemings and Williams chipped in nine and seven, respectively. Daniel tallied six.