Free throws carry South girls past Chugiak

Mike Nesper

South's girls used clutch free-throw shooting to survive a late-game push from Chugiak in the Wolverines' 57-48 win Thursday at the Cook Inlet Conference basketball tournament.

South made eight straight free throws in the game's final two minutes -- something coach Bonnie Gurney stresses in practice.

"We work a lot on free throws," she said.

South shot 78 percent from the line and scored 18 of its points at the foul line to knock off the Mustangs, who were seeded fourth in the eight-team tournament. South is the No. 5 seed.

South guard Sadie Hodgson hit the first two late-game free throws to end a 9-0 Chugiak run. The Mustangs, who trailed by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, made it a one-possession game with two minutes to go.

"We kept fighting to the end," Chugiak point guard Nicole Pinckney said.

South sealed the victory with perfect free throw shooting in a bonus situation when Chugiak was forced to foul while attempting to get back in the game. Hodgson hit the first four followed by two from Taylor Murray and two from Nicole McCormick.

Murray paced the Wolverines with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds. Hodgson added 11 points.

Randi McMullen's 11 points and eight rebounds led Chugiak, and Pinckney added 10 points. Ashlynn Burgess hauled in a game-high 11 rebounds for the Mustangs, who got nine boards from Brandy Bookout.

Working as one unit has been a struggle for South all season, Murray said. That ended Thursday.

"Everyone played their part," she said.

Murray said the same team effort will be needed if South wants its second upset in as many days when the Wolverines meet undefeated West in Friday's semifinals.

To combat the tournament-host's experience and size, South will need to use its speed and play with intensity on defense, Gurney said.

"We have to play our game," she said.

South trailed early but gained the lead midway through the third quarter. South used a 6-0 run to go up 38-30 heading into the final eight minutes.

Chugiak's failure to transition from offense to defense was to blame, Pinckney said.

"We just weren't getting back on defense," she said. "It was a tough third quarter."

South and Chugiak are both quick teams lacking height, Gurney said. The difference, she said, was South played a full 32 minutes.

"That's definitely the most consistent we've played," Gurney said.

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