by Tommy Wells
ANCHORAGE – Angel Medina leaned back in his chair on the sideline of the Alaska Airlines Center in front of a large crowd in the University of Alaska-Anchorage’s Alaska Airlines Center and sighed. The end of his high school career didn’t go quite as planned for the Class 1A Player of the Year. In fact, it just didn’t go at all.
Seldovia, aided by a Scammon Bay scoring drought that spanned more than 8 minutes in the second half, reeled off a stunning 15-2 run in the first eight minutes of the second half and rolled to a stunning 62-34 victory. With the win, Seldovia nailed down its first-ever state title – and spoiled Scammon Bay’s bid for perfection.
“We just couldn’t get any rhythm,” said Medina. “We kind of played sloppy in the first half, and then we just couldn’t get a shot to fall in the third. It is kind of frustrating. We had been playing pretty well, but …”
Seldovia’s victory ended the Eagles’ season at 27-1.
“It’s tough,” he said. “That one loss is tough,” he said.
Offensively, the Eagles struggled to get their offense in gear early in the contest. Scammon Bay managed just three shots from the field in the first eight minutes and trailed by as many as 10 points in the opening frame.
Seldovia didn’t have any scoring woes in the first. The Sea Otters opened the contest with three consecutive shots and grabbed a 7-0 cushion before Theodore Sundown managed to get the Eagles’ first basket, a 3-point shot from the corner at the 4:38 mark.
The Sea Otters answered Sundown’s bomb with another run. Seldovia pushed in six points and upped its lead to 13-3 with just under 3 minutes left in the initial frame.
Tristan Brown gave Scammon Bay a lift in the final 2:34 of the frame. He scored five straight points in the closing minutes and helped the Eagles pull to within five, at 13-8, with 1:37 left in the first.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Seldovia answered back again. Seth O’Leary pushed in a layup with 9 seconds left in the frame and gave the Otters a 15-8 lead heading into the second quarter.
Just 35 seconds into the ensuing period, Aiden Philpot shifted the Seldovia offense into high gear. The junior forward opened the second with a three-point shot that staked the Otters to an 18-8 cushion.
Philpot’s trey ignited a 14-7 second-quarter spree by Seldovia and helped the team roll into the half holding a shocking 14-point advantage, at 29-15.
The Eagles’ offensive woes hit rock bottom in the third. Seldovia limited Scammon Bay to just two free throws in the first eight minutes of the second half and blew the game wide open. The Otters posted a 15-2 run in the frame and took a commanding 44-17 lead into the fourth.
Fabian Akerelrea ended the Eagles’ scoring drought 27 seconds into the fourth quarter, knocking down Scammon Bay’s first field goal of the second half at the 7:33 mark of the period.
Sparked by Akerelrea’s three-bomb, the Eagles managed to breathe some life into their offensive game. Scammon Bay scored 17 points in the final eight minutes.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, it was too little too late.
Jerry Sundown came off the bench to shoulder a big chunk of the SBHS offensive attack in the fourth. He sank two of the Eagles’ four fourth-quarter three-pointers. Brown and Medina also knocked down three-point shots in the frame.
Scammon Bay didn’t have any problem generating points earlier in the tournament. The Yukon Delta Conference champion, the Eagles breezed through their first three games.
Scammon Bay opened the tournament on Saturday with an impressive 59-42 victory over Newhalen, the Aleutian Chain Conference runner-up. In the win, the Eagles picked double-digit performances from three players, including Shandon Rivers, who led all SBHS scorers with 14 points.
Akerelrea and Theodore Sundown added 13 and 11, respectively.
Tristan Brown and Medina led the Eagles defensively with double-digit efforts on the boards. Brown had a team-high 12 rebounds to go along with four steals. Medina had 10 boards and four steals.
With the win over Newhalen, the Eagles moved into a quarterfinal round matchup with Elim.
Scammon Bay unloaded on Elim, winning by a 60-48 clip thanks to double-digit nights from Akerelrea, Brown and Sundown. Akerelrea went 3-for-4 from behind the three-point line and chalked up a game-high 22 points.
Brown notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 boards. Sundown finished with 11.
Rivers led all Scammon Bay defenders with a game-high 13 rebounds in the win over Elim.
The Eagles earned their way into the Class 1A state finals for the second time in the past three years on Tuesday with a thrilling 55-49 come-from-behind win over Angoon.
Scammon Bay, which had trailed by a 15-13 clip after the first eight minutes of play, outscored Angoon by a 42-34 margin in the final three periods to nail down the win.
Medina provided the spark the SBHS offense needed to salt away the win with a Herculean effort in the third quarter. One of two Scammon Bay players to reach double figures, he tallied 11 of his 15 points in the third quarter and helped the Eagles take a 43-35 cushion into the fourth.
Medina and Akerelrea both played well defensively, finishing with nine rebounds apiece.
Sundown led all SBHS scorers with 17 points.
Kotlik, Toksook Bay and Akiachak also made appearances in the Class 1A field.
Toksook Bay, the 2014 Class 1A runner-up, went 1-2 in its three games.
Despite getting double-digit offensive performances from Isaiah Pitka, Matthew Lincoln and Byron Nicholai, the Islanders suffered a tough 62-55 loss to Elim in their opener on Saturday.
Pitka led all Toksook Bay players with 22 points and 16 rebounds. Lincoln and Nicholai added 10 points piece.
John Chakuchin also played well for the Islanders, netting seven points and a game-high 17 rebounds.
The Islanders bounced back from their loss nicely. They rode a double-double performance from Pitka to a 51-49 victory over the Newhalen Malamutes.
Pitka racked up 10 points and 11 rebounds in the win.
Nicholai paced the NIHS offense with 17 points. Moses Moses added 11.
Toksook Bay ended its state appearance on Tuesday with a 55-50 loss to Fort Yukon.
In the loss, the Islanders garnered 26 points from Pitka and 10 from Lincoln.
Kotlik also went 1-2 in the tournament.
After suffering a 67-47 loss to Seldovia in the first round on Saturday, Kotlik upended Teller in the consolation bracket by a 52-47 clip.
They finished the tournament with a 76-37 loss to Klawock on Tuesday.
Despite the losses, Kotlik’s Lewis Okitkun, Jowan Akaran and Jared Hendrickson all played well.
Okitkun finished as one of the tournament’s top Class 1A scorers. He collected 53 points in the team’s three games, including 18 against Seldovia, 19 against Teller and 16 more against Klawock.
Akaran had nine points and 10 boards in Kotlik’s loss to Seldovia. He chalked up 11 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Teller.
Hendrickson also scored into double figures against Teller, netting 12.
Akiachak, despite a stellar effort from Fritz Jackson, Dray Pasitnak and Terrance Nose, went 0-2.
The Huskies, despite 20 points from Jackson and double-double nights from Pasitnak and Nose, suffered a 64-61 loss to Anaktuvuk Pass in their opener.
Pasitnak posted 14 points and 13 rebounds in the game. Nose had 13 points and 13 boards.
Akiachak dropped a 54-50 decision to Klawock on Monday.
Jackson had a game-high 27 points and 12 rebounds in the loss. Nose added 13 points.