by Tommy Wells
Heading into the final eight minutes of play, the Bethel Regional High School Warriors’ hopes of raising the Ravn-Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation Basketball Invitational championship trophy appeared about as likely as a snowflake vacationing in Florida.
In fact, the snowflake might have had more hope as the Glennallen Panthers held a 17-point lead, at 54-37.
Something happened to the Panthers’ en route to the title, however. The Warriors’ defense stole the game.
Bethel limited Glennallen to just five points in the fourth quarter and spearheaded a wild come-from-behind victory. Backed by a stifling defensive effort, the Warriors reeled off a stunning 23-5 run in the final period and lifted the BRHS cagers to a 62-59 victory in front of a large crowd in the WarriorDome.
The win capped a perfect 3-0 run by the Warriors during the tournament.
Glennallen used the longball to perfection early on the contest. The Panthers knocked down a pair of clutch three-point shots midway through the first quarter and fought their way to a slim 13-11 first-quarter advantage.
Sinka Williams, Jarvis Evans and Jamin Crow helped keep Bethel close. Williams and Evans both knocked down three-point shots in the opening frame. Crow tallied three the old-fashioned way, scoring a bucket from the field while going one-for-three from the free throw line.
Hayden Lieb also scored 2 for Bethel in the first.
Lawrence Poe and Lieb put the Warriors’ offense on their shoulders in the second. Poe scored eight of his team-high 15 points in the frame and helped Bethel grind out a 19-15 run.
Poe and Lieb combined for 14 of Bethel’s 19 points in the second and helped the Warriors roll into the half clinging to their 30-28 advantage.
Glennallen roared back in the third. The Panthers pumped in four three-point shots in the first eight minutes of the second half and reeled off a 26-7 run. Luke Weimer led Glennallen’s efforts by pushing in eight points in the frame, all of which came from within the paint. Aiden Fields, Gabe Jones and Devin Spears all hit treys in the third.
Jamin Crow paced the BRHS offense in the third with two baskets. Peter Crow added a three-pointer.
The Warrior’s shots weren’t going in on offense in the third, but they were dynamic in the fourth. Poe pushed in seven points in the frame and spearheaded a 21-5 surge that helped Bethel tie the game at 59-59. Peter Crow and Jamin Crow hit free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
Jamin Crow finished the game as Bethel’s second-leading scorer with 12. Peter tallied nine, while Evans and Lieb netted eight apiece.
Fields led all scorers with 21 points – 12 of which came via four treys.
Bethel opened the tournament on Thursday with a solid showing against Selawik. The Warriors defeated Wolves by a 60-52 margin.
The win over Selawik in the first round send the Warriors into the semifinals to face off with Akiak, which had advanced via a 64-59 decision over Dillingham.
Bethel earned a spot in the finals with a 75-51 victory over Akiak on Friday.