Aniak girls rally Akiak for VFW crown

Shaylene Egoak #24 of the Akiak Thunderbolts gets ready to dribble away from defender Aley Hoeldt of Aniak during the girls championship game of the VFW Basketball Invitational Tournament. photos by Greg Lincoln

by Tommy Wells

If anyone had any doubts as to Aniak Lady Halfbreeds’ ability to defend their state championship, they had them answered this past weekend in front of a large crowd in the Bethel Regional High School WarriorDome.

Aniak, sparked by double-digit performances from Kayla Morgan, Shannon Alexie and Miranda Peterson, rolled a 66-52 victory over the Akiak Lady Thunderbolts in the finals of the 2019 Veterans of Foreign Wars Basketball Tournament. With the win over Akiak, Aniak finished the tournament with a perfect 3-0 mark.

Shaylene Egoak and Kristen George made sure Aniak’s road to the VFW crown didn’t come to easy. Egoak highlighted a stellar opening period by the Lady Thunderbolts by throwing in 10 points, including six of the team’s final nine points to power Akiak to a 20-19 lead. George buried a three-point near the end of the frame to finish of the Thunderbolts’ barrage.

George buried two of her three treys in the first quarter. She finished the game with 13 points.

Peterson helped Aniak stay close early. She scored eight of the Lady Halfbreeds’ 19 first-quarter points. Alexie and Morgan both chipped in a pair of buckets.

Aniak came storming back in the second. Alexie scored seven points in the frame and spearheaded the Lady Halfbreeds to a 19-11 spree. Aley Hoeldt and Cyra Phillips both added four.

The Lady Halfbreeds held a 38-31 lead at the half.

Aniak held off a stiff challenge from Akiak in the third to expand their lead. The Lady Thunderbolts collected a pair of clutch three-point shots from Egoak and Tyresha Andrews and trimmed the AHS lead to single digits.

Alexie all but iced the win in the closing seconds of the third with a three. Her basket enabled Aniak to outscore Akiak by a 12-10 clip in the frame and head into the final eight minutes with a 50-41 advantage.

Skye Morgan added fuel to Aniak’s fire in the fourth. She pushed home a pair of treys in the final minutes to key a 16-11 run in the stanza.

Kayla Morgan led all Aniak scorers in the win with 16 points. Alexie chipped in 14, while Hoeldt, Skye Morgan and Natanya Pensgard all contributed six.

Egoak led all scorers in the game with 22. Shauna Williams and Amanda Williams added six apiece for Akiak. Andrews chipped in five.

Other teams playing in the tournament included Kipnuk, Bethel, and Akiachak.

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