East outbattles West for CIC girls basketball title

Mike Nesper

The West girls won their first 26 games of the season.

The East girls made sure the streak didn't go any further.

East disrupted a flawless Eagles season with a 35-34 win in the Cook Inlet Conference basketball championship game Saturday at West High.

Points were hard to come by in a physical game that featured 40 fouls, including a double technical. East won the physical battle, West coach Charlie Stanley said. That was the difference.

"They outplayed us all game," he said. "They wanted it more than us."

East's Jasmine Richard scored what proved to be the game-winner when she drained two free throws with less than 11 seconds left. Standing at the foul line near West's fans -- who provided plenty of distraction -- the sophomore guard put the high-pressure situation out of her mind.

"Just shoot them like practice," Richard said after a pile of celebrating T-bird players and fans left the court. "I just wanted to do it for my seniors."

Richard's foul shots put East up 35-31. West's Kiana Alcantara immediately cut the lead to one with a high-arc heave from 3-point land.

Forced to foul to stop the clock -- both teams were in a double-bonus situation with five minutes left -- West sent East's Dajah Motuga to the line with less than two seconds on the clock. She missed both free throws but when West's Cece Cockerham came down with the rebound, she ran out of time for a floor-length desperation shot at the buzzer.

And the celebration began. For East, that is.

Stanley said his players -- whose motto all season was "refuse to lose" -- learned a lesson about being the team everyone wants to defeat.

"We refuse to lose, but sometimes we struggle to win," he said.

The hard-fought win took the effort of every T-bird on the floor, senior Rolonda Scaife said.

"We worked as a team tonight," she said. "We came out there wanting to win."

West's Chanel Bookert and East's Vaa Pedro scored 10 points apiece to lead their teams. Pedro added seven rebounds and four steals, and West's Fu'a Malaetia was good for nine points and eight rebounds.

East and West traded runs that resulted in a one-point T-bird lead at the half. West opened the game on an 8-2 run, which East followed with a 17-2 run of its own. The Eagles responded with a 10-2 flurry to end the half 21-20 in favor of East.

The points column wasn't the only category that was nearly identical on both sides of the scoresheet. Both teams had 33 rebounds, both shot about 30 percent from the field and East had just one more turnover, 23 to West's 22.

"It was really tight," Scaife said.

Dimond 86, South 61

Tara Thompson erupted for 42 points to lead Dimond past South 86-61 in Saturday's third-place game. The Lynx outscored South by 20 points in the second quarter to put the game out of reach.

Justine Anderson and Dejha Canty added 10 points apiece for Dimond.

Sabrina Ungaro and Taylor Murray combined for 41 points to lead South, which also got 10 from Sadie Hodgson.

Most of Dimond's scoring came from down low -- 65 percent of its points were in the paint.

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

Girls All Tournament team

MVP: Tara Thompson, Dimond

Marshala Eady, West; Taylor Murray, South; Tatiyanna Veneble, Service; Vaa Pedro, East, Nadine Fraker, Bartlett; Sabrina Ungaro, South; Rohyn Huss, Dimond; Randi McMullen, Chugiakl; Channel Bookert, West; Lauren Frost, Eagle River; Tennae Voliva, East.