Thunderbolts upend Bethel to claim VFW title

Ray Egoak, captain of the Akiak Thunderbolts, goes vertical for a layup during their championship game with the BRHS Warriors last Saturday at the WarriorDome.

by Tommy Wells

Ray Egoak pumped in 18 points and Darren Albrite added 17 more on Saturday and powered the Akiak Thunderbolts to a resounding 65-39 victory over the Bethel Regional High School Warriors’ junior varsity in the finals of the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars Basketball Tournament.

The tournament, which was held Jan. 10-11 in the WarriorDome, featured some of Western Alaska’s top boys’ and girls’ teams.

Bethel, which collected points from nine different players, managed to stay close early in the championship game. After Shaun Peter, Shane Phelan and Randy Turner had pitched in back-to-back-to-back baskets for the Warriors, Kaydon King gave Bethel plenty to cheer about by draining a three-pointer from the wing.

Alec Winkleman added a basket later in the frame and helped the Warriors fight to within 14-11 at the end of the first eight minutes of play.

Albrite led all Akiak scorers in the first quarter by netting six points, including the Thunderbolts’ last two baskets. Egoak scored four in the frame, while Isaiah Dementieff and Jeremy Williams added three and two, respectively.

Akiak, keyed by six more points from Egoak, padded its lead in the second. The Thunderbolts outscored Bethel by a 12-9 margin in the frame and took a 27-20 cushion in the half.

Dementieff took control in the third. He poured in eight of his 15 points in the initial eight minutes of the second half and helped the Thunderbolts blow the game wide open with a 21-6 third-quarter barrage.

Egoak and Avery Joseph each added four points to the Thunderbolts’ third-quarter barrage. Williams and Albrite also added baskets.

Jaymes Martins, Brycen Alexie and Alex Peltola scored Bethel’s points in the frame.

Akiak finished the game with a 17-13 run in the fourth.

Williams almost hit the double-digit plateau in the game for Akiak. He finished with nine.

Peter led all BRHS scorers with eight. Turner and Phelan tallied seven and six, respectively. Peltola also chipped in six.

Other teams participating in the tournament included Kipnuk, Nunapitchuk, Aniak, Toksook Bay, and Akiachak.