The Service boys played a smooth, efficient game Saturday to win their first Cook Inlet Conference basketball title since 1991.
Stifling defense seamlessly transitioned into a deadly offensive attack, and the Cougars got stronger as the game progressed in a 70-45 win over East in the championship game at West High.
"We played really well from start to finish, defensively, and that was what we wanted to do and knew we would have to do," Service's Adam Klie said.
Klie was 10 for 11 from the field, helping the Cougars shoot better than 60 percent. He was also named the tournament's most valuable player after racking up 25 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, all game highs.
Whether playing the point or posting up in the paint, the 6-foot-3 Klie played all over the floor, but whenever East tried to collapse on him, there were plenty of other talented players to pass to.
"Basketball is a game of movement, so I'm just trying to find little openings to see if I can get my teammates open and just try to help our team win," Klie said. "When one guy isn't scoring, we got other guys that can pick it up. This is a really special team and it's really fun to play with them."
Marques Robinson found himself wide open on several occasions, burying four 3-pointers for the Cougars and finishing with 18 points. Amu Aukusitino kicked in nine points, with Ihro Raguindin and Reece Robinson each scoring seven.
Austin Huss' 12 points led East, which shot 36 percent from the field and was outrebounded 33-24. Desmond Johnson scored nine points to go with eight apiece from Jarred Laws and Xavier Johnson.
East had reason to feel confident coming into Saturday's game. The Thunderbirds were the only CIC team to beat Service during the regular season, Laws hitting a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against the Cougars last month.
East hung tough early Saturday, trailing 14-12 after one quarter and 30-20 at the half, but things turned ugly for the Thunderbirds in the third quarter when Service outscored them 27-9.
"I hope we can build off this effort," said Service coach Tyler Moor. "I wouldn't be surprised if we see these guys again in another couple weeks."
Service and East both earned berths in the Class 4A state tournament by virtue of reaching the CIC title game. The Class 4A state tournament begins March 21 at Sullivan Arena.
Service reached the state title game last season, finishing second to Dimond in a 57-51 overtime loss. Though the Cougars are playing well, Moor doesn't think another title appearance is a given.
"I think this year is gonna be one of the toughest state tournaments we've seen in a while," Moor said. "I don't think there's any easy games."
West 65, Eagle River 60
The West boys established an early lead and hung on to claim third place with a 65-60 win over Eagle River.
Deandre Wilson's 13 points and seven rebounds were both team highs for West, which jumped to an 18-9 lead after one quarter. Dazhn Wyche racked 11 points and Christian Nidoy added 10 points and four steals for the Eagles.
Eagle River, led by 21 points apiece from Shaquan Rhoades and Josh Oberlander, got back in the game by outscoring West 21-14 in the third quarter. Rhoades and Oberlander also combined for 13 of Eagle River's 17 steals, Oberlander recording a game-high eight.
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
By JEREMY PETERS