by Tommy Wells
The Bethel Regional High School Lady Warriors pushed the Nikiski Lady Bulldogs to the brink of exhaustion on Saturday morning in the fourth-place game at the Class 3A state basketball tournament in Anchorage.
Unfortunately for the Lady Warriors, time ran out on their come-from-behind attempt.
Playing in front of a large crowd in the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Wells Fargo Sports Complex, the BRHS girls pumped in 16 points in the final eight minutes of play before settling for a tough 53-46 setback.
“We just got off to a slow start and that put us in a hole,” said senior point guard Katie Crow. “We kept pushing and making runs but unfortunately we couldn’t make it all the way back.”
The Lady Warriors gave Nikiski plenty of reason to shiver late. After the Lady Bulldogs had stretched their lead to 12, at 44-32, with just over five minutes left in the game, Deja Jackson and Courtney Williams brought Bethel back. Jackson cut the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to single digits with 1:34 left when she nailed down a clutch three-point shot from the wing. Moments later, Williams added a shot that cut Nikiski’s lead to seven, at 48-41.
Nikiski weathered the storm, however. The Lady Bulldogs scored twice in the ensuing 30 seconds and sealed the win.
Crow cut Nikiski’s final margin of victory to seven with nine seconds left with a left-handed layup.
Bethel struggled to get its offense going early. The Lady Warriors scored just nine points in the first quarter and rolled into the second period trailing by a 17-9 clip.
Nikiski upped its lead to 30-20 at the half.
Bethel battled its way back to within six in the third by posting a 10-6 spree. Crow led the BRHS third-quarter run by scoring five of her 16 points in the stanza.
Williams, who led all BRHS scorers with 18 points, closed out the second with a short jumper from the free throw line.
Arianna Smith and Dorothy Bukowski also played well. Both scored four points in the contest.
Bethel advanced to the consolation finals with a rousing 40-30 victory over the Galena Lady Hawks on Friday in the Alaska Airlines Center. In the game, the Lady Warriors scored a 23-12 run in the first half and cruised to the easy victory.
Williams led all Bethel scorers in the win by tossing in a game-high 20 points. Katie Crow and Smith added six and five points, respectively. Marissa Crow and Deja Jackson chipped in four and three.
Bethel tipped off play in the state tournament on Thursday with a 40-30 loss to the Valdez Lady Buccaneers.
Williams and Katie Crow both scored eight points in the affair. Jackson, Smith and Marissa Crow all tallied four, while Madisen Smith chipped in two.
For the tournament, Courtney Williams was named to the 3A All-Star team.