The Dimond Lynx edged the East Thunderbirds 52-45 Tuesday night at East High to gain sole possession of first place in the Cook Inlet Conference.
The teams entered the game with identical records. Before Tuesday, Dimond’s only conference loss of the season was a 50-49 setback to East.
Dimond (20-2 overall, 9-1 CIC) won its sixth straight game while ending an eight-game winning streak for the Thunderbirds (19-3, 8-2).
“I’ve coached a long time, and I can count the number of wins at East High School on one hand," said Dimond coach Brad Lauwers.
The Lynx shot 41 percent (18 of 43) to the Thunderbirds’ 31 percent (16 of 51).
“They played better than us just in the simple fact that they put the ball in the basket,” East coach Chuck Martin said. “They outrebounded us, but they had a lot more opportunities for rebounds because we shot 31 percent and they shot 41 percent. They were a lot better around the rim than we were."
The Lynx and Thunderbirds seemed evenly matched for majority of the game, but poor shooting around the rim and a lack of rebounding led to East’s downfall.
Andrew Graves, East’s 6-foot-10 senior, picked up three fouls in the first half, which sidelined him early. That enabled 6-8 senior Evan Hoosier of Dimond to snag multiple offensive rebounds.
All of Dimond’s points were scored by four players, with senior Noah Brandon and junior Isaiah Moses both pouring in game-highs of 18. Junior Jaren Carle pitched in 10 points and Hoosier added six points and seven rebounds.
“This game means a little more since they’re such a good team, but I think we stayed poised the whole game and we played with great confidence,” said Moses.
East’s backcourt led the scoring, with senior Kaeleb Johnson tallying 18 points and senior Jaron Williams adding nine.
The Lynx have been in the state championship game the past three years and East has not missed the state tournament since 2012. Though the teams won’t see each other again in the regular season, a postseason meeting is probable.
“We know we’re going to see them again since they’re a really good team," Moses said. “We’re ready.”