West, Service advance to CIC title game

Mike Nesper

The West boys received a big boost during Friday's Cook Inlet Conference basketball semifinal against Dimond.

But it didn't come from any of the players. Rather, it was the screeches from the Eagles Nest that spurred a second-half turnaround and lifted the tournament hosts past Dimond 68-45.

"Our fans are awesome," West coach Antonio Wyche said. "Being that they're our sixth man, they help."

In the other boys semifinal, Service quieted Eagle River early, earning a 59-38 victory.

The victories put West and Service in Saturday's championship game and, more importantly, earned both teams berths in the Class 4A state tournament.

Two first-half buzzer-beaters put Dimond in the lead after each of the opening two quarters. West owned the second half.

The Eagles racked up 41 second-half points while holding Dimond to 14. The Eagles played with more intensity in the final 16 minutes, said Isa Wilson, one of nine West seniors.

"We wanted to come out with aggression," he said.

West grabbed a one-point lead midway through the third quarter and never relinquished it. The Eagles outscored Dimond 22-7 that quarter to build a double-digit lead going into the fourth quarter.

They didn't let up.

West poured in 19 fourth-quarter points -- and allowed just seven against -- to pull away for a decisive victory.

West settled down in the second half, Wyche said, and played with more energy than it did at the start.

Wilson's 18 points led all players. Don McMorris added 13 points for West, which got 10 from Brandon Huffman. Thirty of West's points came off turnovers.

Carlos Diaz paced the Lynx with 14 points and Muhamad Cole chipped in 10.

The Eagles can't have a lackluster first half Saturday against Service if they want to claim the conference title, Wilson said.

"We have to come out with more fight than we came out with today," he said.

West swept both conference games against Service this season, winning by four points and eight points.

The Eagles want to finish the season the same way they started, Wyche said -- as the top team in the CIC. With the orange-and-black faithful behind them, Wyche likes their chances.

"There's no place like home," he said.

Service 59, Eagle River 38

Service gained an 11-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back, leading the entire game en route to a 59-38 win over Eagle River.

Pindo Drammeh's 18 points and 13 rebounds led Service in both categories. Brad Wacker (16 points) and Ihro Raguindin (13) also reached double digits for the Cougars.

Seniors Thomas Jones (15 points) and Collin Metzel (13) paced Eagle River.

Service dominated on the glass. The Cougars hauled in 39 total rebounds, nearly doubling Eagle River's 21.

Service built its seven-point halftime advantage to 12 points in the third quater. The Cougars outscored Eagle River 24-15 in the final eight minutes.

Reach Mike Nesper at mnesper@adn.com or 257-4335.