4A boys: Cougars claim championship

Mike Nesper
Service's Nahshon From, left, draws a foul from West's Peni Tatafu during the boys' Division 4A basketball championship game Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)
Service's Monroe Baily (13) loses the ball to the defensive pressure of West's Da zhon Wyche, left, and Deandre Wilson, second from right, during the boys' Division 4A state championship basketball game Saturday, March 22, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)
West's Deandre Wilson splits the defense of Service's Pindo Drammeh, (50) and Nahshon Fromm during the Division 4A basketball championship game Saturday, March 22, 2014 in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)

The 118th and final game of March Madness Alaska ended in thrilling fashion.

Service scored with seven seconds left to edge West 49-47 in the boys Class 4A state championship Saturday at Sullivan Arena.

The past two seasons, Reece Robinson and the Cougars were runners-up. In its third straight trip to the finals, Service finally tasted victory.  

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Robinson said.

Brad Wacker scored the game-winner when he got a layup from under the hoop to roll in. West’s Isa Wilson came up short on a 3-pointer as time expired — and the celebration was on. Service players embraced each other and the screaming fans behind the Cougars’ bench.

Nahshon Fromm fed Wacker the inbound pass from left of the Service bench. He said he wanted to go to Robinson, the 4A player of the year, but found an open Wacker cutting toward the hoop.

“I had a wide open layup, so I just took it,” Wacker said.

Head coach Tyler Moor was still processing the accomplishment minutes after winning Service’s first state title since 1991.

“I don’t even know what to say,” he said. “These guys deserve it.”

The Cougars didn’t start the year favored to win state, Moor said, far from it. Service, which began the season 4-4, turned its season around with teamwork, he said.

“They came together at the right time,” Moor said.

The victory avenged a 72-59 loss to West in the March 7 Cook Inlet Conference championship. Shooting percentage was the difference.

On Saturday, West made 28.8 percent of its field goals — and was four of 20 from beyond the arc.

“We couldn’t get the lid off the basket,” West coach Antonio Wyche said. “Sometimes you make them, sometimes you don’t.”

Two weeks ago, the Eagles made more than 70 percent of their 3-pointers and shot 49 percent from the field. Fromm attributed West’s shooting success during the conference tournament to playing at home. At the Sully, it was a different outcome.  

“They didn’t have the advantage of their home hoop,” Fromm said.

Service didn’t shoot much better, making 32.8 percent of its field goals. The Cougars improved in the second half, going 10 of 21 from the field while West was 11 of 36 in the final two quarters.

Service led nearly the entire game, but was never ahead by more than eight points. West’s only lead was a brief one-point advantage three minutes into the third quarter. Service took a 36-32 lead going into the final quarter.

Trailing 47-41, West scored six straight points to tie the game capped by a Wilson floater with under a minute to go. On its ensuing possession, Service drained the clock with perimeter passing, which set up Fromm’s inbound pass with 13 seconds to go.

Pindo Drammeh led Service with a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds). Robinson and Ihro Raguindin added 11 points apiece for the Cougars.

Wilson paced West with a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds).

Service entered the championship a more confident team than it was two weeks ago in the CIC finals, Wacker said. The Cougars also gave a stronger defensive effort, he said.

“We came out and played defense,” Wacker said. “That’s what won this game.” 


Third place

Colony 49, East 46

Colony's Bailey West sank two free throws with 16 seconds left to make it a two-possession game and seal a 49-46 win over East. The Knights were ahead 47-44 when West went to the line.

The game was tied 32-32 going into the fourth quarter.

Damien Fulp scored 16 points to lead the Knights, who got 11 rebounds from Antonio Bush.

Desmond Johnson and Eudy Gomez combined for 29 points to lead East.

Fourth place

West Valley 62, Thunder Mountain 59

West Valley withstood a second-half surge from Thunder Mountain to earn a 62-59 victory.

The Wolfpack were up 35-22 after two quarters but Thunder Mountain made it a one-possession game, 42-39 West Valley, going into the fourth.

A three-point play by Ben Jahn put the Falcons ahead 59-58 with 1:05 to play. Daniel Hornbuckle, who paced West Valley with 26 points, sank a field goal to put the Wolfpack up 60-59 with 50 seconds. Daniel Remington made two free throws with nine seconds on the clock to seal the win for West Valley.

Jacob Calloway (13 points), Jahn (12), Matt Seymour (12) and Josh Palmer (10) all reached double figures for Thunder Mountain.