The Service and Bartlett boys basketball teams each showed plenty of potential Saturday in the Cougar Tip Off championship game at Service High, serving notice that they could both be major contenders when the Cook Inlet Conference season begins next month.
Service won its own tournament for the third straight time with a 68-60 victory over the Golden Bears, holding a double-digit lead throughout much of the second half. Eight players scored for each team, which are both deep and athletic.
"They killed us in the preseason every time we played them," said Service senior Reece Robinson, who was named the tournament's most valuable player. "We had to come out strong and make all the right plays."
Robinson showed an ability to score inside and outside on his way to a game-high 23 points. Point guard Ihro Raguindin notched 13 points and ran the floor with aplomb. His only field goals of the second half were back-to-back 3-pointers that gave the Cougars a 44-35 lead midway through the third quarter. Service was in charge from that point on.
"I just want to do whatever is best for the team," said Raguindin, a senior. "It doesn't matter whether it's scoring or passing or doing whatever. I just have to hustle and make sure we work hard."
Raguindin is enjoying a chance to step into more of a leadership role this season for the Cougars, who finished runner-up the last two seasons in the Class 4A state tournament. They lost to East in last season's title game and to Dimond the previous season.
Service (3-0) lost six seniors from last season's team, so the Cougars are still identifying their strengths and weaknesses. To win the Tip Off, they had to beat Kodiak in the first round and Palmer in the second round.
"In the beginning of the season, we were having trouble putting the pieces together," Raguindin said. "It was nice to see the hard work in practice finally paid off."
Bartlett (2-1) reached Saturday's title game with wins over Eagle River and East. Marquis White was the only player in double figures for the Golden Bears on Saturday with 21 points. He provided one of the game's highlights when he finished a first-quarter fast break with a dunk that put the Golden Bears up 10-8.
Service bounced back to lead 18-15 at the end of the first quarter after Nathan Fromm hit a runner at the buzzer, then stretched the lead to 36-30 at halftime. Bartlett opened the second half with a 3-pointer from Payton Fullmer (six points) to cut the lead to three, but Service didn't let the Golden Bears get any closer.
"We have a lot of practicing to do and we have a lot of things to learn," said Bartlett coach Greg Fullmer. "Tonight, there were moments when we kind of got down, we kind panicked a little bit. We kind of had a meltdown."
East 72, Palmer 55 OT
East outscored Palmer 18-1 in overtime to grab third place with a 72-55 victory.
Desmond Johnson scored eight of his game-high 24 points and Eudy Gomez had five of his 21 points in overtime for the T-birds.
Adam Ramoth's 21 points led Palmer.
Kodiak 54, Nome 42
In a game that was tied after three quarters, Kodiak won the fourth quarter to take fourth place with a 54-42 win over Nome.
Kodiak sank 11 of 16 free throws to outscore Nome 19-7 in the fourth quarter. Austin Frick tossed in eight of his 21 points that quarter, hitting a pair of 3-pointer, Alec Canete-Hall scored five of his 15 points to help the Bears pull away.
Matt Tunley scored 18 points for Nome.
Chugiak 56, Eagle River 52
Matt Oldenkamp tallied 17 points and Alex Hess added in Chugiak's 56-52 win over Eagle River in the seventh-place game.
Eagle River was led by Thomas Jones' 13 points and Collin Metzel's 10.
Reach Jeremy Peters at email@example.com or 257-4335.
Cougar Tip Off
At Service High
Reece Robinson (MVP), Service; Marquis White, Bartlett; Alec Canete-Hall, Kodiak; Ihro Raguindin, Service; Payton Fullmer, Bartlett; Desmond Johnson, East; Cass Matheis, Nome; Austin Frick, Kodiak; Adam Ramoth, Palmer; Bentiu Ponoam, Bartlett; Thomas Jones, Eagle River.