Morgan, Koonuk lead Halfbreeds to 4th at state

by Tommy Wells

Alyssa Morgan and Shauna Koonuk scored into double figures on Saturday and powered the Aniak Lady Halfbreeds to a 49-42 victory over the Ninilchik Lady Wolverines in the fourth-place game at the 2017 ASAA Class 1A State Basketball Championships.

With the win, Aniak posted a 3-1 record at the tournament, which was held March 15-18 at the Alaska Airlines Center and the Wells Fargo Sports Complex.

Aniak didn’t waste any time in taking the upper hand in the fourth-place matchup. The Lady Halfbreeds outscored Ninilchik in each of the first two quarters of play and never looked back.

After posting a 15-10 run in the first eight minutes of play, the Lady Halfbreeds pounded out a slim 8-7 effort in the second and took a 23-17 lead into the half.

Ninilchik rallied in the third. The Lady Wolverines pushed in 13 points in the frame and pulled to within 35-30 at the start of the fourth.

Koonuk finished the affair with 19 points. Morgan chipped in 10.

Aniak kicked off the tournament with an impressive 69-46 win over Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta rival St. Mary’s in the play-in round on Wednesday. The Lady Halfbreeds broke open a close 32-31 battle at the half by reeling off a 25-7 run in the first eight minutes of the second half.

Morgan led a trio of Aniak players reaching double figures offensively. She finished with a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds. Koonuk and Kayla Morgan pitched in 15 and 11, respectively.

Celina Johnson paced St. Mary’s with 19 points – 12 of which came via four three-point bombs.

Johanna Prince added nine for the Lady Eagles.

Aniak suffered its only loss of the tournament on Thursday with a tough 66-57 setback to Selawik, the eventual state runner-up. Selawik rallied from a 29-25 deficit in the first half to net the victory.

Koonuk and Kayla Morgan led the Aniak offense with 24 and 17 points, respectively. Alyssa Morgan tossed in 11.

The Lady Halfbreeds worked their way into the fourth-place game with a thrilling 57-44 come-from-behind victory over Nikolaevsk on Friday.

After falling behind by an 11-9 clip early on, the AHS girls got their offense in gear. Aniak outscored Nikolaevsk by a 16-9 clip in the second quarter and took a 25-20 lead into the half.

They finished the game with a 32-24 run in the second half.

Koonuk led all AHS scorers in the game with 26 points and seven steals. Alyssa Morgan netted 11 points and nine rebounds.

Like Aniak, St. Mary’s left the state tournament with plenty of reason to smile. The Lady Eagles rode Herculean efforts from Danessa Evan and Johnson to the consolation title on Saturday with a 53-48 decision over Sand Point.

Johnson posted a double-double in the affair, finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Evan poured in a game-high 26 points.

After dropping its opener to Aniak, the Lady Eagles righted their ship quickly. In the consolation quarterfinals, they defeated Gambell, 41-35.

Evan led St. Mary’s in scoring against Gambell with 14 points. Megan Westdahl chipped in eight, while Susan Prince grabbed nine rebounds.

Following their win over Gambell, the Lady Eagles punched their way into the consolation finals by downing Newtok on Friday by a 31-28 clip.

Jada Peterson and Johnson provided the bulk of St. Mary’s offense by scoring 13 and 12, respectively. Evan added nine.

Albina Andy and Gloria Tom paced Newtok. Andy scored a team-high seven points, while Ton grabbed 11 boards.