by Tommy Wells
The Bethel Regional High School Warriors did what they had to do this past weekend to ensure they could advance to the Class 3A state basketball tournament. They battled their way to the finals of the single-elimination tournament on Friday.
Then, on Sunday, they found out their ticket to basketball’s version of the “Promised Land” had been erased, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Due to concerns for player safety, the Alaska School Activities Association decided to cancel all extracurricular activities, including the 2020 state tournament. Tournament officials had hoped to hold the event, but with the national emergency declared, ASAA officials decided to err on the side of caution.
Bethel painted itself into the title contender category with a stellar effort against state-ranked Barrow in the finals of the Western Conference Basketball Championships, which had beem scaled back to a one-day event due to health concerns.
The Warriors fought tooth-and-nail with the Whalers through much of the event before dropping a 62-57 decision in front of a large crowd at Lumen Christi High School.
Bethel got off to a solid start against Barrow, which finished the season ranked among the state’s top five squads. Nelson Evans and Jamin Crow pushed in back-to-back shots to open the contest and staked Bethel to the upper hand. Jarvis Evan added a three-point shot midway through the first quarter and helped the Warriors expand their lead to 12-8.
Barrow fought its way back. The Whalers went on an 8-4 run in the final 4 minutes of the frame and went into the second with the score knotted at 16-16.
Barrow didn’t have long to celebrate. Peter Crown knocked down a three-pointer early in the second and staked Bethel to a 21-20 lead.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, Barrow hit stride from there. The Whalers finished the second with a 11-8 run and took a slim 31-28 lead into the half.
Crow, who finished the game with 15 points. Gave Bethel another lead early in the third. He took a steal by teammate Nelson Evans and turned it into a layup and a 32-31 advantage.
The Whalers regained the upper hand at the start of the fourth. Barrow’s Anthony Fruean pushed home a shot with just over 3 minutes left in the contest to stake the Whalers to a 53-50 lead.
Jamin Crow and Nelson Evans made short work of Barrow’s lead. The two pushed in a pair of crucial shots that tied the game at 55-55 with 2:31 left in the affair.
Jamin Crow finished the game as Bethel’s second double-digit scorer with 13.
Barrow scored seven of the final nine points to secure the win.
Bethel opened the tournament earlier in the day by downing Nome-Beltz in the semifinals.
The Lady Warriors, hampered by a pair of injuries, dropped their first-round matchup against Barrow, 48-40. In the loss, BRHS lost two starters to injuries, including Jaron Mute and Gabrielle Fredericks.