3A boys: Grace, Bethel, Monroe and ACS advance

Mike Nesper
Grace Christian defeated Sitka 59-41 to advance in the Boys 3A bracket during the March Madness Alaska state high school basketball tournament at the Sullivan Arena on Thursday, March 20, 2014. Bill Roth

No matter what place Grace Christian is playing for Saturday at the Class 3A boys state basketball tournament, it will be the last for head coach Chuck Boerger.

Boerger is stepping down after coaching the past nine seasons at Grace and 21 total years in Alaska.

Grace ensured it will at least be playing for third place with a 59-41 win over Sitka on Thursday.

The Grizzlies will meet Bethel, winners of a 52-50 game over Delta, in Friday's semifinals.

Anchorage Christian, which cruised past Houston 75-29, will meet two-time defending champion Monroe, which downed Nome 56-36, in the other semifinal.

Boerger coached high school and college basketball for 15 years in Michigan before moving to Alaska. He spent three years coaching in Adak then moved to Seward. During his nine seasons coaching the Seahawks, Boerger led the boys to a Class 3A state championship in 1993, a game Seward lost 59-58 to Eielson.

Throughout his career in Alaska, the friendships he made stand out to Boerger.

"I've been in about every gym in the state," he said. "I've met a lot of great people."

The state's small population creates camaraderie among teams, Boerger said.

"There's no enemies here," he said. "We all play hard and walk away."

Educating kids is his favorite part of coaching, said Boerger, who started coaching little league in Michigan at age 16.

"I like teaching the game the way I think it should be played," he said. "Taking new kids and molding them.

"It's just a kick," he added.

And it's something Boerger does every practice, every game.

"He's constantly showing us what we're doing and how to do it better," said senior Alex Fancher, who's played under Boerger for four years. "He's a guy who always pushes us to go harder."

Boerger said he's enjoyed his time as a coach, but it's time to let someone else take over.

"It's been a good ride," he said.

Grace and Sitka were locked at 19-19 after the first half. The second half was all Grace.

The Grizzlies shot 64.3 percent from the field in the final two quarters and outscored Sitka 40-22. Better penetration enabled Grace to score easy layups and opened up perimeter shots, Boerger said.

Determination was the difference in the second half, Fancher said.

"We dug in a little bit more," he said.

Fancher was one of four Grizzlies in double figures. He and Hans Karlberg scored 10 points apiece and Eric Johnson and Luke Offord each poured in 16 to lead all scorers.

Brian Way's 13 points paced Sitka.

It wasn't all bad news for the Wolves. Well, for Joey Inman anyway.

The Sitka senior secured a prom date after coming out in warm-ups wearing a T-shirt that read "prom" on the front and had a large question mark on the back with his girlfriend's name, Kalene, underneath. Kalene, who was watching the game online at home in Sitka, accepted Inman's unorthodox proposition via text message.

Inman, who originally was going to make a sign until a T-shirt at Walmart gave him a new idea, said Kalene gave him credit for the creative request.

ACS 75, Houston 29

Anchorage Christian blew past Houston 75-29. Levi Auble led all scorers with 15 points. Calvin Hoffman (13 points), Immanuel Lopez (11) and Austin Monzon (10) all reached double digits for ACS, which led the entire game.

Jeff Baird led Houston with six points.

Bethel 52, Delta 50

Theodore Naneng's 19 points led Bethel in a 52-50 squeaker over Delta. Cory LePore and Brett Smith added 10 points apiece for Bethel.

Aaron Williams scored a team-high 17 points for Delta, which got 10 from John Crabtree.

Delta rallied from a nine-point deficit in the first quarter to take a 25-23 lead into the half. Bethel led 40-36 going into the fourth quarter.

Monroe 56, Nome 36

Scooter Bynum's 17 points and 10 rebounds led Monroe to a 56-36 win over Nome. David Stepovich added 13 points for the Rams, who got 10 from Jalon McCullough.

Monroe led 42-34 going into the fourth quarter. The Rams outscored Nome 14-2 in the final eight minutes to put the game out of reach.

Tyler Eide scored a team-high 13 points for Nome, which shot 51.6 percent from the field. Monroe made 43.5 percent of its field goals.

Twenty of Monroe's points came off turnovers and the Rams hauled in 29 rebounds to Nome's 17.