The Wasilla Warriors scripted a perfect ending to a perfect basketball season Saturday night, capturing their third straight Class 4A girls basketball state championship at Sullivan Arena.
Afterward, coach Jeannie Hebert-Truax made what could be the best coaching decision of her career.
"I'm gonna flunk them all," she said.
All of Wasilla's starters will be gone next season -- three will play college basketball, one will run track, and a fifth, the team brain, might just concentrate on academics. For their swan song, they rallied past Dimond for a persuasive 43-27 victory that gave them their third straight state championship.
Three of the senior starters -- Alexis Imoe, Alysha Devine and Kyla Dinkel -- left the game to a loud ovation with 12 seconds left. They embraced for a long group hug, their last in Warriors uniforms.
"I'm so happy," a red-eyed Devine said. "It's been seven years of hard work, but it was all worth it. I couldn't think of a better end to this season."
The win capped a 30-0 season for Wasilla, which limited Dimond to seven points in the second half.
"This team is special in so many ways," Truax said. "They're great kids, on the court and off. There's no arguements, no girl spats. And of course they're phenomenal athletes too."
No one was more phenomenal than Imoe, who poured in 28 points, including nine from the foul line in the final 2:12, to carry the Warriors.
Her hot hand helped Wasilla recover from a bad first half that ended with Tara Thompson's 30-foot bomb at the buzzer that lifted Dimond to a 20-14 lead.
Wasilla didn't look good the first half, and Dimond looked great. The Lynx played aggressively and physically, and their defense gave Wasilla fits. They held Wasilla scoreless for the first four minutes of the second quarter while building a 17-7 lead before Imoe hit a pair of jumpers off Dinkel screens.
Wasilla was 5 of 21 in the first half and missed its first three shots of the second half, and then things turned around. It was as if the Warriors suddenly started playing with purpose.
"They were totally different in the way they were playing defense and offense," Truax said.
Dimond led 22-18 on Sierra Afoa's driving layup with 4:43 left in the third quarter. But the Lynx did not score again until the fourth quarter.
Wasilla took the lead for good, 23-22, when Imoe found Dinkel alone under the basket for an easy layup at 1:40. In the final 25 seconds, Imoe drained two 3-pointers for a 29-22 lead.
The Warriors put the game away at the foul line, sinking 12 of 18. Imoe led the way, making 11 of 12.
"She's always doing the job for us," senior Jenna Ford, who had a couple of key steals, said. "She's so clutch."
Imoe, who hit 5 of 11 from 3-point range, was Wasilla's only double-figure scorer. Dinkel added seven points and nine rebounds. Thompson's 11 points and Afoa's 11 rebounds led Dimond.
Colony 47, Lathrop 32
A pair of seniors guided Colony to a 47-32 triumph over Lathrop in the third-place game.
Mary Klapperich delivered 14 points, seven rebounds and three steals and Audrey Michaelson contributed seven points, nine rebounds and three steals in their final game for the Knights.
Freshman Ruthy Hebard turned in an impressive game for Lathrop -- 17 points, eight rebounds, seven blocks and three steals.
Kodiak 45, Juneau 32
Hannah Wandersee's double-double powered Kodiak in a 45-32 victory over Juneau in the fourth-place game.
Wandersee tallied 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Bears, who got another 11 rebounds from Sarah Ng.
Gabi Fenumiai totaled 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead Juneau.
Reach Beth Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.