Barrow completes a perfect season with state crown

Doyle Woody
Bartlett's Iziah Sherman-Newsome and West's Zion Bowser grapple for the ball. Bartlett's Damon Sherman-Newsome is at left. Bartlett played West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
As the game winds down, Bartlett's Damon Sherman-Newsome senses victory. Bartlett defeated West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Bartlett's Trenton Anthony calls for a timeout. Bartlett defeated West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Bartlett's Jal Deng shows his pride. Bartlett defeated West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Bartlett's Damon Sherman-Newsome celebrates the title. Bartlett defeated West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
West's Kendall Brown was called for a foul late in the game on Bartlett's Jal Rial. Bartlett defeated West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Bartlett's Damon Sherman-Newsome gets congratulated after the win. Bartlett defeated West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
West's Devon Bookert, center, tries to keep the ball from Bartlett's Jal Deng, left. Bartlett played West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Bartlett's Andre Berry tries to get rid of it under double coverage from West's Tyler Norman, left, and Devon Bookert. Bartlett played West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla's Alexis Imoe runs the offense. Wasilla beat Juneau in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Bartlett coach Greg Fulmer, center, celebrates the win. Bartlett defeated West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
West's Devon Bookert shows frustration early in the game. Bartlett played West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla's Alysha Devine shows emotion after the title victory. Wasilla beat Juneau in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The Wasilla bench celebrates points near the end of the game. Wasilla beat Juneau in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla's Alysha Devine gets tripped up. Juneau's Sarah Tarver is at right. Wasilla beat Juneau in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The Wasilla bench keeps the faith near the end of the game. Wasilla beat Juneau in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla's Kelsey Cottle is congratulated after the win. Wasilla beat Juneau in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla's Kyla Dinkel tries to pass around Juneau's Sarah Tarver. Juneau played Wasilla in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla's Kyla Dinkel comes up with a ball after a scramble. Juneau played Wasilla in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
ACS's BJ McKay lays the ball up in front of Monroe's Shayne Gilbertson. Anchorage Christian School defeated Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Celeste Colegrove, left, and Alexis Imoe share a moment after Wasilla's win. Wasilla beat Juneau in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla's Kelsey Cottle, left, reaches for the ball on Juneau's Taylor Larson. Juneau played Wasilla in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
ACS's Calvin Hoffman breaks up the court in the second half. Anchorage Christian School defeated Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla's Alysha Devine tries to put a shot over Juneau's Maria Weyhrauch. Wasilla beat Juneau in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
West's Devon Bookert passes on a fast break. Bartlett played West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
West's Devon Bookert is guarded closely by Bartlett's Jal Rial. Bartlett played West in the finals of the 4A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Monroe's LaDarius Milton, right, reaches over ACS's Alex Brown. Anchorage Christian School played Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla fans cheer their team. Juneau played Wasilla in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla's Alysha Devine tries to beat Juneau's Sarah Tarver up the floor. Juneau played Wasilla in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
ACS's Wesley Arnes tries to inbound the ball past Monroe's Scooter Bynum. Anchorage Christian School played Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla's Celeste Colegrove looks for a shot. Wasilla beat Juneau in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
ACS coach Ron Hoffman instructs his team to defend shots with arms straight up late in the fourth quarter. Anchorage Christian School defeated Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Monroe's LaDarius Milton puts up a shot in traffic. Anchorage Christian School played Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Barrow's Nicole Smith, center, hugs teammate Julia Kim toward the close of the game. Melissa Gerke squeezes in at right. Barrow beat Kotzebue in the finals of the 3A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage Christian School played Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball ACS's Wesley Arnes tries to get a shot up as Monroe's Tyler Wells defends. championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Barrow's Lynette Hepa defends Kotzebue's Colleen Snyder. Barrow faced Kotzebue in the finals of the 3A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The Barrow Whalers, including from left Julia Kim, Angela Miguel and Lynette Hepa, storm the floor at the final buzzer. Barrow beat Kotzebue in the finals of the 3A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
The Wasilla Warriors revel in the moment after final buzzer. Wasilla beat Juneau in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Wasilla's Alexis Imoe is congratulated after the win. Wasilla beat Juneau in the finals of the 4A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Barrow's Lynette Hepa, left, and Kotzebue's Christina Fields reach for a loose ball. Barrow faced Kotzebue in the finals of the 3A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
ACS coach Ron Hoffman rubs the head of Wesley Arnes after the win. Anchorage Christian School defeated Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
ACS coach Ron Hoffman argues a call. Anchorage Christian School defeated Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Barrow's Melissa Gerke, right, tries to block Kotzebue's Dessirea Kenworthy from behind. Barrow beat Kotzebue in the finals of the 3A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Barrow's Jalene Kanayurak reels in the ball. Barrow beat Kotzebue in the finals of the 3A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Kotzebue's Shaunte Shroyer shoots over and Barrow's Melissa Gerke reaches for a block. Barrow faced Kotzebue in the finals of the 3A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
ACS's Chris Voss puts up a reverse layup. Anchorage Christian School played Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Monroe's LaDarius Milton gets tied up by ACS defenders Augustus Simmers, left, and Chris Voss. Anchorage Christian School defeated Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Barrow's Julia Kim, right, gets tripped up near Kotzebue's Christina Fields. Barrow faced Kotzebue in the finals of the 3A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Kotzebue's Dessirea Kenworthy looks for an opening. Barrow beat Kotzebue in the finals of the 3A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Barrow coach Jordyn Danner celebrates with her team. Barrow beat Kotzebue in the finals of the 3A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
ACS coach Ron Hoffman and his bench cheer a fourth quarter rally by the Lions. Anchorage Christian School defeated Monroe Catholic in the finals of the 3A boys state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
Barrow's Julia Kim celebrates her team's title. Barrow beat Kotzebue in the finals of the 3A girls state basketball championships on Saturday, March 19, 2011.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News

The tears started falling along the Barrow bench even as the last 1 minute, 52 seconds of the Whalers' Class 3A state championship victory drained off the Sullivan Arena scoreboard Saturday afternoon.

With Barrow's eventual 58-31 victory a mere formality, coach Jordyn Danner pulled her starters, giving seniors Nicole Smith, Julia Kim, Jaleen Simmonds and Melissa Gerke occasion to be showered with applause from the Whalers' adoring fans.

On the bench, the seniors hugged and hugged and high-fived one another, and soon came tears of reward -- and redemption.

"This was our goal all season long,'' Smith said after she snatched 10 steals, furnished 12 points and served as the spearhead of a suffocating defense that imposed its will on the Huskies. "For our coach -- it's her first year. And especially for our seniors, after what happened last year.''

A year after Barrow missed the state tournament, where it would have been favored, because several players were suspended for drinking, the Whalers savored the success of a perfect season -- 26-0.

But the tears that fell as time ticked off the clock weren't the first the Whalers shed Saturday. The championship marked the last game together for the four senior starters, who have played together most of their lives.

"We all grew up together,'' Smith said. "The four seniors who started have been playing together since elementary school.''

Realizing the end was near played with their emotions.

"We cried 30 minutes before the game,'' Kim said. "We cried 10 minutes before the game.''

And they cried afterward.

"Amazing,'' Kim said. "It was the best season ever.''

As the Whalers celebrated, gathered for team pictures and received congratulations from family and friends, they pulled on white T-shirts manufactured ahead of time and indicative of their rank as prohibitive favorites to seize the school's first girls title since 2007.

The back of the T-shirts read "2011 State Champions'' and listed the roster and the coaching staff. The print on the front read: "Winning Isn't Everything But Around Here It's Tradition.''

In most seasons, a team as talented and fundamentally sharp as Kotzebue, which received seven points each from Christina Field and Danielle Fields, and a couple of 3-pointers from Colleen Snyder, would be a strong favorite to claim a state title. But Barrow's strong guard tandem of Smith and Kim, 6-foot-3 sophomore center Lynette Hepa, and forwards Gerke and Simmonds, are formidable and play a pressing, trapping defense that is relentless and remorseless.

Witness the 29 turnovers the Whalers forced and the 24 steals they collected in ringing up their fourth win over the Huskies this season. They also got 23 rebounds from Hepa, who delivered a game-high 14 points, and 12 points and eight rebounds from Gerke.

"Our 3-2 defense, it's like textbook defense,'' Kim said. "If you wanted to show how to play a 3-2, look at our team. Defense really sets the tone for us.''

Even if opponents break through the back-court pressing of Smith and Kim to enter the front-court with speed, Hepa, Gerke and Simmonds still present problems. Hepa furnished five blocks Saturday and Gerke blocked two shots, and Barrow's front line altered a slew of other Kotzebue shots.

"We're determined,'' Smith said. "We want the ball.''

Even with all that defensive work, though, Smith and Kim never looked remotely winded, likely because Danner puts them through intense conditioning in practices.

"We run soooo much,'' Kim said. "We even had one practice this year -- our coach thought we were getting cocky -- where we ran for two hours straight.

"Hellacious.''

Just like Barrow's defense.

Consolation games

Sitka 45, Seward 42: Richelle Ramil scored a game-high 13 points and Sariah Ady added 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds to lift the Wolves to victory in the third-place game.

Meg Berry led the Seahawks, who took fifth place, with 11 points and Tessa Adelmann added 10.

Anchorage Christian Schools 59, Craig 48: The Lions earned fourth place behind Lillian Crayton's game-high 17 points, as well as 12 points from Sarah Taylor and 10 from Dallas Dickerson.

The Panthers, who finished sixth, received 15 points from Grace Beckman and 13 from Melissa Castle.

Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.


By DOYLE WOODY
dwoody@adn.com