by Tommy Wells
The difference between a berth in the 2018 O’Brady’s Invitational Basketball Tournament’s championship game and a fifth-place finish in the final team standings was about three inches … or the distance of a ball bouncing off the back of the rim.
On Friday night Ketchikan escaped with a 52-49 victory in the semifinal round. With the loss, Bethel slipped into a third/fifth-place showdown with Wasilla on Saturday a game the Warriors dropped by a narrow 65-61 margin.
Chugiak defeated Ketchikan by a 73-57 mark in the tournament’s championship game on Saturday evening.
The last-second miss by the Warriors against Ketchikan spoiled a gutsy performance from Bethel in the semifinals. Fresh off a win over South Anchorage in their opener, Bethel fought its way back from an early deficit to tie Ketchikan at 41-41 early in the fourth quarter. Clevon Constantine’s wrap-around basket at the 5:18 mark helped the Warriors erase a 6-point halftime deficit.
Ketchikan managed to regain the lead moments lead. Cody Kimbell, a 6-foot-3 senior, and Jake Taylor knocked down a pair of shots over the next two minutes and staked the Kings to a two-point lead, at 47-45.
Darryl Garrison refused to led Ketchikan run away. The BRHS star pulled the Warriors into a tie for a third time with 1:19 left when he drove the middle of the lane and pushed in a running lob.
Unfortunately for Bethel, the Kings answered right back. Ketchikan point guard Marcus Lee dropped in a floater and tacked on a pair of free throws seconds later to build the Kings’ lead to four, at 51-47.
Jamin Crow breathed new life in Bethel’s rally attempt from there. He came off the bench to bury a shot from the baseline and pulled Bethel to within two.
The Warriors had a chance to force overtime in the closing seconds, After Chris Lee had sank a free throw to up the KHS lead to 52-49, the warriors quickly called a time out to set up a potential game-tying three-point shot.
It could have gone either way but Frederick’s shot from the corner bounced off the back of the rim.
The Warriors, one of only two Class 3A teams entered into the South Anchorage tournament, turned in another gutsy effort on Saturday against Wasilla in the third/fifth-place game. Constantine scored a team-high 19 points in the contest.
Bethel opened the eight-team tournament on Thursday by reeling off a victory over South Anchorage.