by Tommy Wells
The Bethel Regional High School Lady Warriors knew going into the 2nd Annual Grace Christian Hardwood Classic they would get the chance to challenge themselves against some of the top teams in the state. Having four of the eight teams entered into the three-day tournament ensured that.
Make no mistake about it, the Bethel Warriors proved it belonged.
The Lady Warriors, following a tough loss to second-ranked Sitka in the first round. Bethel rallied back to win its next two games and finished fourth in the team standings. Nikiski upset Sitka in the finals of the tournament, while Western Conference rival Barrow placed third.
Bethel senior guard Katie Crow said the team wasn’t unhappy with their fourth-place finish. The opportunity to face off against some of the state’s better teams would only make Bethel that much stronger heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
“I feel pretty good about coming here and finishing fourth,” said Crow. “I think it will do us good to face the type of teams that were here. It lets us know what we need to work on heading into the regional tournament. To face this type of competition will be good for us.”
The Lady Warriors capped their three-day outing in Anchorage with a rousing 44-29 romp over Mt. Edgecumbe in the consolation finals. Senior guard Courtney Williams powered Bethel to its 15-point rout of the Lady Braves by throwing in 28 points.
Williams helped BRHS get off to a fast start. She opened the Lady Warriors’ scoring by knocking down a three-pointer just seconds into the game. She followed that moments later with a basket that gave Bethel a 5-2 lead.
The Lady Warriors never looked back from there. Williams and Madisen Smith both added shots in the first quarter and led Bethel into the start of the second period with a 9-3 cushion.
Williams terrorized the Mt. Edgecumbe defense in the second. She scored 12 of her 19 first-half points in the frame and spurred BRHS to a 17-11 run. Deja Jackson added a pair of shots from the field in the frame as well.
Jackson finished the game with seven points.
Bethel held a 26-14 lead at the half.
Bethel finished off its 2-1 record at the tournament by outscoring Mt. Edgecumbe by an 18-15 margin in the second half.
BRHS head coach Eric Jung said he was pleased with his team’s ability to fight its way back from a first-round loss to second-ranked Nikiski to finish fourth.
“We were kind of up and down at times,” Jung said. “We got off to a slow start, but the girls fought through our mistakes and held on. I think we did a good job on defense the last two days and we can take a lot from this.”
Bethel earned its way into the consolation finals with a 44-32 victory over the Monroe Catholic Lady Rams on Friday. The Lady Warriors, behind double-digit performances from Williams and Crow, used a staggering 19-6 run in the first eight minutes of the second half to blow open a tight game and roll to a 12-point victory.
The Lady Rams managed to stay close early. Monroe Catholic’s Lauren Grahek hit a three-point shot less than two minutes into the game and staked the MCHS girls to a 5-3 lead. Crow evened the score late in the frame with a basket and then helped pave the way for Williams to finish a low-scoring first quarter with a free throw.
Williams’ free throw gave Bethel a slim 6-5 lead heading into the second quarter.
Crow, who finished with a game-high 14 points, carried the brunt of the BRHS offense in the second. She scored four of the team’s nine points and pushed the Lady Warriors into the half with a slim 15-10 cushion. Smith and Williams also added shots in the frame.
Bethel blew the game open in the initial four minutes of the second half. Crow, Williams, Angeline Alexie and Smith all pushed home shots in the first 3:16 of the third quarter and led the Lady warriors on a 10-2 run. Jackson knocked down a three-point shot from the top of the key moments later and finished off a 15-2 spree that gave Bethel a commanding 32-14 lead with 2:57 left in the third.
Monroe Catholic rallied back in the fourth, posting a 16-10 run that cut BRHS’ lead to 12 at the final buzzer.
Williams finished the contest with 11 points. Smith, Jackson and Alexie all added six apiece, while Marisa Crow added two.
A slow start offensively doomed Bethel to a tough 47-31 loss to Sitka in the first round of the tournament on Thursday afternoon. The Lady Warriors managed just five points in the first eight minutes of play and trailed by 17 points heading into the second.
Sitka held a 22-5 lead at the start of the second period.
Bethel recovered from its slow start well in the second. Crow knocked down three shots from the field and Williams and Jackson added treys to spearhead a 12-8 run that pulled the Lady Warriors to within 30-17 at the half.
Crow finished with a team-high 13 points. Jackson added 10.
Bethel will return to action this weekend when they travel to Kotzebue.