by Tommy Wells
Better mark the Bethel Regional High School down as a legitimate contender for a berth in the upcoming Class 3A state basketball tournament. A real strong contender.
Courtney Williams and the BRHS girls proved their worth on the hardwood this past weekend by splitting a weekend Western Conference series with the third-ranked Barrow Lady Whalers. The two teams are expected to compete for the conference’s two state tournament berths next month.
Bethel, now 9-4 for the season, moved into the lead in the conference race with a resounding victory over Barrow on Saturday in front of a standing-room-only crowd in the WarriorDome. The Lady Warriors, sparked by a double-digit performance from Courtney Williams, turned an impressive second-quarter defensive effort and turned it into a 47-41 victory.
The defending Western Conference champion, Barrow rode the hot hand of Lewanne Brower to a solid start in the first eight minutes. Brower nailed a three-point shot midway through the first and helped the Lady Whalers fight to a 10-10 deadlock.
Bethel garnered a balanced scoring attack in the first eight minutes. Deja Jackson, Arianna Smith, Williams, Katie Crow and Marissa Crow all pitched in shots in the period.
The Lady Warriors took the wind out of the Lady Whalers’ sails in the second. The BRHS defense limited Barrow to just two shots from the field in the ensuing eight minutes and cleared the way for Williams to spark the Lady Warriors’ offense to a 14-point outburst. Williams scored seven of her game-high 16 points in the frame.
Smith, Katie Crow, Madison Smith and Marissa Crow tacked on points and helped Bethel roll to a 24-16 halftime lead.
Barrow fought its way back in the third. The Lady Whalers picked up a three-point shot from Milya Wright and a pair of shots from the field from senior guard Kuutuuq Danner en route to posting a 15-11 run in the third quarter. Sara Wolgemuth also scored four in the frame.
Barrow trimmed Bethel’s lead to 35-31 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Katie Crow provided Bethel with the lift it needed in the final frame. She pushed in six of her nine points in the frame – including four shots from the free-throw line – and spearheaded a 12-10 spree. As a team, Bethel hit on eight of their nine attempts from the charity stripe in the frame.
Arianna Smith finished as Bethel’s third-leading scorer with six points. Fiola Dema netted four.
Barrow, now 1-1 in conference action, took the first game of the series with a 48-38 victory on Friday.
The Lady Warriors dug themselves into a hole early on. Bethel managed only a pair of baskets from Williams in the initial eight minutes and went into the second trailing by a 12-4 clip.
Williams helped the Lady Warriors’ offense wake up from there. She pumped in five points in the second and sparked a 16-point rush that cut Barrow’s lead to 27-20 at the half. Katie Crow and Marissa Crow also came up big in the second for BRHS by scoring four apiece.
Barrow, despite the hot hand of Katie Crow, regained the upper hand in the third. The Lady Whalers garnered a pair of treys from Danner and Wright and posted a narrow 10-9 run in the frame.
Crow scored seven of BRHS’ nine points in the third.
Crow and Williams finished the game as the Lady Warriors’ top point-getters, netting 14 apiece. Dema added six.
Wright led all Barrow scorers with 10.
Bethel will return to action this weekend by competing at the Valdez Elks Tournament, which gets underway on Feb. 8.