Scoring 30 points in basketball might not seem like a tough task. But when two teams with a history of low-scoring games meet, reaching that mark can mean the difference between winning and losing.
That was the case for defending champion Craig, which edged Dillingham 31-29 in last year's 2A girls state title game.
The same proved true in the Panthers-Wolverines rematch in Tuesday's semifinals at Sullivan Arena.
This time around, it was Dillingham eclipsing 30 points as the Wolverines earned a 34-27 victory and will face Unalakleet, winners of a 50-43 semifinal over Metlakatla, in Wednesday's championship.
A tight, defensive battle was just what Craig head coach D.J. Hansen expected.
"The team with 30 points was going to win," he said.
Just as Craig did a year ago.
"Basically, it was a replay of last year only with a different team winning," Hansen said.
Dillingham held Craig to just two points in the second quarter and took a 21-11 lead into the half.
The Panthers made it a five-point game heading into the fourth.
Craig's Maggie Dinon hit a jumper just inside the arc midway through the fourth to make it a one-possession game - 26-23 Dillingham. It stayed a three-point margin after Kaley Rolf made two free throws for Dillingham followed by a Marie Yates layup for Craig.
Senior Drew Carlos gave Dillingham a 31-25 lead when she converted a three-point play with 1:25 to go. The Wolverines made three of four free throws in the final 42 seconds to seal the win.
Head coach Sean Carlos credited Dillingham's defense for helping the Wolverines survive Craig's late-game push.
"Our defense kind of saved our bacon today," he said.
Drew Carlos, the 2A girls player of the year, finished with a game-high 13 points. Rolf added eight points and nine rebounds for the Wolverines, who got eight points from Tiera Schroeder.
Yates' 12 points led all Craig scorers. Katie Dinon hauled in a game-high 10 rebounds for the Panthers.
Dillingham has to enter the championship relaxed if it wants to claim the crown, Drew Carlos said.
"We can't let the nerves get to us," she said.
Limiting turnovers is crucial, coach Carlos said.
Unalakleet's game plan is simple: work as one unit.
"Our goal is to play as a team every possession," Wolf Pack head coach Peter Johnsen said.
Teamwork isn't just a team motto, but a theme for Unalakleet's entire program, senior Roberta Walker said.
"That's what we run off of. Every year, every game," she said.
Walker grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds for the Wolf Pack, who were led in scoring by Ada Harvey (14 points) and Jonisha Wilson (13).
Alecia Henderson and Monica Hayward each recorded double-doubles for Metlakatla. Henderson owned the glass, pulling down 20 rebounds to go along with her 11 points while Hayward pumped in 16 points and 11 boards.
Nearly half of Unalakleet's points (24) came from 3-pointers while the MissChiefs were 0 for 11 from beyond the arc.
The championship will come down to defense and, of course, teamwork, Johnsen said. Unalakleet hasn't faced Dillingham this season, making it even more crucial the Wolf Pack play their game, he said.
"When we play well, we can play with anyone," Johnsen said.
Reach Mike Nesper at email@example.com or 257-4335
Nenana withstood a fourth-quarter rally to nip Bristol Bay 43-41 and Glennallen held Point Hope to 12 points in the first three quarters of a 48-28 win in Tuesday's consolation round.
Nenana outscored Bristol Bay 13-6 at the foul line and forged a narrow 36-30 advantage on the boards. Raquell Salas scored a game-high 15 points for Nenana, while Rylie Lyon led the Angels with 13 points.
In Glennallen's win, Ariana Dougall scored 15 points and Carley Crow supplied 11 points and seven rebounds for the Panthers. Helen Minx led Point Hope with eight points and six rebounds.
By MIKE NESPER