Everywhere the Mt. Edgecumbe boys turned Friday night, they ran squarely, painfully, into red, white and blue.
Nothing patriotic going on, just the Anchorage Christian School Lions, clad in those colors, employing a suffocating defense as a semifinal springboard into the championship game of the Class 3A state basketball tournament.
Defending state champion ACS, which starts three juniors and two sophomores, smothered Mt. Edgecumbe from the outset in a 65-49 victory at Sullivan Arena.
The Lions on Saturday face Monroe Catholic, which likewise didn't give Nome an inch of space in its 64-27 demolition of the Nanooks.
The title game is a rematch of last season's championship game. The teams played earlier this season in Fairbanks, where the Rams won 55-38.
ACS is in pursuit of its sixth championship and Monroe Catholic is chasing its first.
Since the state tournament began play in four classes in 1984, ACS and Eielson have won the most Class 3A boys titles with five each.
ACS jumped out to a 13-1 lead in the first six and a half minutes and so dominated defensively that Mt. Edgecumbe did not make its first basket until just 20 seconds remained in the first quarter, which ended with ACS leading 17-5.
The Lions, who led 29-13 at halftime, used big games from sophomore guard Calvin Hoffman (20 points, four assists) and 6-foot-4 junior Gus Simmers, who racked 17 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Sophomore Nathan Simmers added nine points.
While junior Kacy Green of Mt. Edgecumbe led all scorers with 21, the Braves never mounted a serious threat in the second half.
Monroe Catholic cruised too.
The Rams harassed the Nome into 11 first-quarter turnovers and forced most of them with steals, including four from Scooter Bynum in the opening eight minutes. Nome committed 18 turnovers in the first half and trailed 26-9 at the break.
Monroe Catholic used swarming depth to earn its title rematch with ACS -- 11 different Rams furnished points. Bynum led the way with 11, John Michaels and LaDarius Milton added 10 each and Jalon McCullough and Tyler Wells each chipped in seven.
Nathan Blandford led Nome with 12 points, but committed 10 turnovers. And Tyler Eide's 11 points came with eight turnovers. The only other Nanook to score was Jens Irelan (four points).
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.
By DOYLE WOODY
Anchorage Daily News