Monroe boys easily handle Colony in battle of No. 1s

jpeters@adn.comJanuary 9, 2014 

For those who think the Monroe boys basketball team is the best in the state, the Rams provided some ammunition for that argument Thursday at Dimond High.

Monroe, the top-ranked Class 3A team in the state, earned a 69-46 win over Colony, the top-ranked Class 4A team in the opening round of the Alaska Prep Shootout, an eight-team, single-elimination tournament that concludes Saturday.

Dimond, West and West Valley also picked up first-round wins. 

Monroe didn't waste any time taking control of the action, opening with an 11-4 run and leading 24-7 by the end of the first quarter. Crisp passing and stifling defense were the Rams' signature characteristics.

"We came out real energetic," said Monroe senior David Stepovich, who recorded six points, six rebounds and a game-high four assists. "We got into 'em on defense and started pushing the ball on the fast break."

As strong as the Rams looked on their way to a 39-20 halftime lead, Stepovich said they might have been a little too amped up at times and were shooting a little too quickly.

"We're gonna have to get a lot better, because other teams are gonna get better," said Monroe coach Frank Ostanik. "Our boys have been playing together a long time and that gives us an advantage early in the season. The moment we relax and think we're good, we're in trouble."

Monroe, the two-time defending state champs in Class 3A boys, has six seniors. Five of them scored at least a bucket against Colony.

Scooter Bynum led the way with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, despite playing just 12 minutes. Tyler Wells and Jalon McCullough each finished with 13 points.

Bailey West and Damien Fulp led Colony with 13 points apiece. Fulp, a player-of-the-year candidate who will play for UAA next season, added eight rebounds.

The Knights cut the lead to 44-26 on a Fulp drive early in the third quarter, but never threatened a comeback. Monroe defenders harassed the Knights consistently, which was a big reason the Rams won the turnover battle 19-8 and outshot Colony 46 percent to 35 percent.

Many of the Monroe players have been teammates since sixth grade, said Stepovich, and that makes it relatively easy for everyone to stay on the same page.

"They are extremely coach-able and they really care about one another," Ostanik said. "I've been around long enough to know that's not a normal deal. When you get that, it allows you to be a little bit better than just your talent."

West 58, Thunder Mountain 43

Deandre Wilson racked up 21 points, 12 rebounds and six steals to carry West to a 58-43 win over Thunder Mountain.

Wilson hit four of his seven 3-point attempts to help the Eagles rally from a 25-21 halftime deficit.

Da'Zhon Wyche added 17 points and five assists and Brandon Huffman grabbed 10 rebounds and scored eight points for the Eagles.

Thunder Mountain was led by Jacob Calloway's 20 points and eight rebounds.

West Valley 50, Grace 48

West Valley rode a big fourth quarter to a 50-48 squeaker over Grace Christian, giving Fairbanks schools two victories in the tournament's opening round.

The Wolfpack outscored Grace 19-9 in the final quarter. They trailed 26-14 at the half and started their comeback in the third quarter, outscoring the Grizzlies 17-13 to narrow the gap. They took control with a 19-9 fourth quarter.

Daniel Hornbuckle tallied 19 points, Charlie Suddoth had 12 points and six rebounds and Travon Brackett 10 points and six rebounds for West Valley.

Luke Offord's 14 points and Hans Karlberg's 11 points and eight rebounds led Grace Christian.

Dimond 48, Ketchikan 36

Muhamad Cole tossed in 16 points and Austin Osborne hauled down 13 rebounds to spark Dimond’s 48-36 win over Ketchikan.

Cole hit three 3-pointers and was the only Lynx to score in double figures. Osborne added five steals and three blocks to go with seven points.

Malik Almenzor’s 10 points led Ketchikan, which was outscored 18-11 in a low-scoring second half.


Alaska Prep Shootout
Dimond High
Thursday's games

West 58, Thunder Mountain 43
Monroe 69, Colony 46
West Valley 50, Grace Christian 48
Dimond 48, Ketchikan 36

Friday's schedule

3 p.m. -- Thunder Mountain vs. Colony
4:45 p.m. -- Grace vs. Ketchikan
7 p.m. -- Monroe vs. West (semifinal)
8:30 p.m. -- West Valley vs. Dimond (semifinal)

Reach Jeremy Peters at or 257-4335.


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