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ACS's Dickerson hopes to cap productive career with state hoops title

Mike Nesper
Bob Hallinen

Fifty-one points.

That's what Dallas Dickerson needs to reach 2,000 points for her high school career. The Anchorage Christian senior is also three wins away from her first state title.

Dickerson has a chance to reach both milestones when the Class 3A tournament starts Thursday at Sullivan Arena.

The ACS boys are also eyeing a state title, but they'll have to go through an undefeated Monroe team that's considered one of the best in the state, regardless of classification.

The ACS girls were last year's runner-up at state, falling to Barrow in the championship. The Western Conference champion Whalers, who are on the other side of the bracket, are back to defend their title.

Dickerson didn't know her point total until she recently learned she was 170 points shy of 2,000. That's not something easily put out of mind.

"It's been in the back of my head," she said. "Keeping the pace."

ACS coach Karen Tollefson said Dickerson is a prolific scorer but also an unselfish passer -- a dangerous combination for opposing teams.

"She's a great scorer but very well balanced," Tollefson said.

Dickerson is also a team captain and the person the Lions look to in times of turmoil.

"She calms us down on the court," senior Michelle Coderre said. "She's such a great leader."

Teams keying on Dickerson hasn't slowed her pace. She said she welcomes the challenge.

Slowing Dickerson, the girls 3A player of the year, and the rest of the Lions hasn't been easy. ACS has lost just three games, two to Outside opponents and one to the undefeated Kodiak girls, a Class 4A team. The Lions know a state title is in reach.

"This is one of our best chances," Dickerson said. "We're gonna work for it."

Staying together as a team is essential for success, senior Bryn Tennyson said. That hasn't been difficult for ACS.

"It's like a family," she said. "We all work together. We're all there for each other. It really shows on the court."

That resolve was tested last week when head coach Darrin Powers was fired for what a "contract violation," according to ACS athletic director Jason Hofacker. Tollefson, the team's assistant coach, and Hofacker will share the coaching duties during the state tournament.

Powers assumed most of the blame in an online post Wednesday at alaskapreps.com.

"After an ongoing disagreement with administration, mostly due to my own pride and stubbornness, I've been relieved of my coaching and teaching duties at Anchorage Christian," he wrote. "The timing is unfortunate, but I'm confident the girls and their interim coaches will be able to get the job done without me."

Though the goal is to finish as state champs, Tollefson said ACS isn't focused on anything except its first-round opponent. "We're only looking at Seward," she said.

As for the ACS boys, they can't help but look ahead to the semifinals.

That's when the Lions could meet Monroe, provided both teams win in the first round, which is likely. The Rams haven't lost all season and ACS has defeated every Alaska opponent it has faced, losing just twice to Outside teams.

"The honest truth is, the state championship is the semifinal," ACS senior Calvin Hoffman said.

The two-time defending state champion Rams have met ACS in the past three state title games. Monroe has won 45 straight games since last season and is 25-0 this season, a streak that includes 10 consecutive wins over Class 4A teams.

Among Monroe's victories are nine over Class 4A teams, including seven of the eight state-bound teams -- the only 4A tournament team the Rams didn't play is East. All of the wins over 4A teams were by double digits and six came by more than 20 points, including two 30-point victories over top-seeded West.

"Monroe is awesome," ACS coach Ron Hoffman said.

ACS has defeated its share of 4A teams this season, too, including half of the state bracket -- Kodiak, Colony, West and East.

Monroe has a standout in Scooter Bynum, the 3A boys player of the year, but coach Frank Ostanik attributed their dominance to team chemistry.

"Collectively, we're a lot greater than our individual parts," he said.

Should Monroe reach the finals, it would mark the fourth state championship game for seniors Bynum, Tyler Wells and David Stepovich. But getting there is no guarantee, Ostanik said.

"We're not beating anybody in this tournament if we don't play really, really good basketball," he said.

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


By MIKE NESPER
mnesper@adn.com