The Scammon Bay Lady Eagles are still the reigning State 1A Basketball girls champions! They defeated team after team to win their second consecutive state title last week in Anchorage. Happy smiles go all around with their coaches Herschel Sundown and Inez Charlie after their thrilling win against Selawik.
by Tommy Wells
Scammon Bay head coach Herschel Sundown nor any of his players had butterflies before the start of the Lady Eagles’ state championship showdown with the Selawik Wolves on Saturday afternoon in front of standing-room-only crowd in the Alaska Airlines Center. They knew their bid for a second consecutive state championship rested in their own hands. All they had to do was go earn it.
And they did … easily.
En route to extending their win streak to 56 games, Scammon Bay used a quick start to propel itself to a convincing 71-35 romp. Just how easy was the Lady Eagles’ second state crown? Consider this, Scammon Bay knocked down almost 60 percent of its shots in the contest and used a stifling defensive pressure that forced Selawik into 28 turnovers – seven of which came in the first eight minutes of play. Both of which were key elements in the Lady Eagles to post one of the most lopsided wins in Class 1A girls’ state history.
Selawik actually drew first blood in the showdown of the two western Alaska basketball powers. Shelby Sampson opened the game by drilling a three-pointer and staked Selawik to a quick lead.
That lead, however, faded faster than a hot dog at a Barnam & Bailey Circus.
Hayley Akerelrea and Kiah Charlie keyed a three-point parade by the Lady Eagles shortly after Sampson’s shot. Scammon Bay sank five three-point shots over the ensuing minutes and quickly to a 16-5 lead.
Putting another golden trophy in the School’s trophy case was just a matter of time from there.
The Class 1A Player of the Year, Charlie helped the Lady Eagles finish the first quarter with a bang. The senior guard pushed in a three-pointer in the waning seconds of the period and helped Scammon Bay finish the first quarter on a 23-7 run.
Akerelrea made sure the Lady Eagles’ foot didn’t come off the gas early in the second. She knocked down the sixth of SBHS’ 13 three-point shots and then pushed home a layup on a fast break that was sparked by a steal by Charlie. Her 5-0 run stretched Scammon Bay’s lead to 18, at 28-10.
Akerelrea, one of eight different SBHS players to score in the contest, scored 16 points in the contest.
“They hit a lot of big shots early on,” said Selawik head coach Kelsey Callaghan, who saw her team finish its season at 16-4. “They’re a very good team. We didn’t play as well as we can, but they (Scammon Bay) had a lot to do with that.”
Selawik managed to end the Lady Eagles’ 8-0 run almost 2 minutes into the second. Kali Howarth took a pass low in the blocks and pushed home a shot that pulled the Lady Wolves to within 16.
Scammon Bay all but iced its perfect season from there. The Lady Eagles reeled off an 8-0 spree that ballooned the SBHS lead to 24, at 36-12.
Misty Sundown and Elmira Kaganaq both buried three-point bombs in the final minute of the second and capped a staggering 21-8 run by the Lady Eagles.
Scammon Bay took a commanding 44-18 cushion into the second.
At the half, Sundown said he reminded his players they needed to stay focused. A year’s worth of work was within their reach.
“I told them there were no more ladders, no more exercising and no more pushing each other at practice,” he said. “They really pushed themselves all year to get to where they were. A lot of people don’t realize how hard they worked in practice just to play at this level. I told them we had to maintain our level of play.”
Scammon Bay did exactly that. The Lady Eagles pounded out a 25-10 run in the third quarter and built a staggering 69-28 advantage into the final period.
Charlie, who threatened to reach triple-double status in the contest, highlighted the Lady Eagles’ third-quarter barrage. She nailed two of her five three-point shots in the final 20 seconds of the frame – the last one come on a long shot at the buzzer.
Charlie finished the game with 22 points, nine steals and six assists.
Leading by 41 at the start of the fourth, Scammon Bay relaxed and enjoyed the final minutes of a historic two-year run.
Over the last two seasons, the Lady Eagles have posted a 57-3 record.
The second title in as many seasons was extra special for senior Denae Ulak, who along with Charlie was making her fourth straight appearance in the Class 1A state tournament.
“This means a lot to us,” said Ulak, who scored six points in the win. “We worked really hard to get back here.”
For junior Sabrina Rivers, the win was a reward for the team’s hard work, and a special end for the seniors.
“We wanted to win this one for the seniors,” said Rivers, who tallied five points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. “This is the best way for them to finish because they have done so much for us.”
Kaganak narrowly missed becoming the third Lady Eagles’ to reach double figures in the title game. She scored nine points. Robyn Hunter added six.
Scammon Bay finished the tournament with a perfect 4-0 record, including a 75-49 come-from-behind win over Buckland in the semifinal round.
Buckland, which had edged Selawik in the finals of the Northwest Arctic Conference tournament, got off to a solid start against the Lady Eagles in Friday’s semifinal round. Kyle Melton and the Lady Sissauni held Scammon Bay’s offense in check in the first eight minutes and raced to a stunning 11-5 cushion.
Charlie and the SBHS offense hit stride from there, however. The Lady eagles pounded out a 31-8 run in the second quarter and cruised into the half with a 36-19 lead.
Scammon Bay didn’t take their foot off the pedal in the second half. They outscored Buckland by a 39-30 clip in the final two quarters.
Charlie and Akerelrea both starred for the Lady Eagles in the win. Charlie poured in a game-high 24 points and 12 assists. Akerelrea added 22 points and four steals.
Sabrina Rivers also played well for the SBHS squad. She notched a game-high 11 rebounds and added three points.
The Lady Eagles claimed a tough 43-26 victory over Ninilchik in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
The wins over Ninilchik and Buckland were great for the Lady Eagles, said Herschel Sundown.
“Those two games propelled us into the (championship) game,” he said. “We had a tough first two games. Yesterday’s game (against Buckland) really propelled us into this game and got our confidence up. Once we got past that, I knew we would do well if we just played our game.”
In the win over Ninilchik, Robyn Hunter and Misty Sundown both paced the SBHS offense. Hunter finished with a game-high eight points. Sundown chipped in seven, while Akerelrea scored six.
Scammon Bay kicked off the tournament on Wednesday with an easy 90-46 rout of Tri-Valley. In the win, the Lady Eagles collected double-digit performances from four players, including 21 from Charlie and 15 from Sabrina Rivers. Sundown and Kaganaq poured in 11 and 10, respectively.