Barrow’s scorching-hot shooting from deep and tenacious rebounding earned the Whalers a 76-73 overtime victory over Eagle River to kick off the 26th annual Alaska Prep Shootout on Thursday.
Long-range shooting was Barrow’s calling card in the first of four games at Dimond High. The Whalers sank 14 3-pointers out of 32 attempts — an efficient 43 percent.
The Whalers’ rebounding proved to be too much for the Wolves as well, grabbing 37 rebounds to dwarf Eagle River’s 19.
“It was a good shooting day — a lot better than some days we’ve had in the past, so that helps a lot,” said Barrow coach Daniel Thomas.
Leading the way for the Whalers was 6-foot-6 junior forward Anthony Fruean, who tallied 18 points and 12 rebounds, enough to win player of the game honors.
Junior guard Brendon Matthews was red-hot, pouring in 20 points and drilling five 3-pointers on 8 attempts.
“Just keep shooting,” Matthews said when asked what was on his mind during the game,
“Every time I’m open, I just need to focus on making (shots) and thinking that I will make it.”
Eagle River was led by senior guard Ryan Adkins, who sank eight 3-pointers on 15 attempts — good for a game-high 29 points on an efficient 44 percent from the field (8 for 18).
Barrow and Eagle River were neck and neck for a majority of the game. Both teams began the fourth quarter with an offensive surge, with Eagle River opening the quarter with 10 consecutive points by Adkins and the Whalers countering with a balanced scoring attack. Aided by multiple Whaler turnovers in the final minutes, the Wolves tied the game 68-68 with a layup from guard Javan Walker with two minutes remaining. Neither team managed to score after that, forcing overtime.
Barrow seized control 17 seconds into overtime by sinking a 3-pointer. Eagle River turned the ball over on its first two possessions in overtime and didn’t score until the final minute.
Eagle River was hurt by poor rebounding, 44 percent free throw shooting and costly turnovers in overtime.
“We’ve got to execute down the stretch a little better. That’s just going to take time,” said Eagle River coach Bob Adkins. “... We just a need a little bit of time to not panic in a tight game and just execute.”
The loss marked the coach’s second game back since the Nov. 30 earthquake. He fell off a ladder that day while trying to extinguish a chimney fire.
“(I) broke my ankle, shattered my kneecap and sprained my wrist,” said Adkins, who coached the game from a wheelchair.
Also coaching the Wolves is former Eagle River basketball standout Thomas Jones, a second-year assistant.
“He’s familiar with the program and loves the kids and the school — he’s awesome,” said Adkins.
With the victory, Barrow advanced to a Friday night semifinal matchup against Valdez who beat Kenai 55-37.
In the meantime, the well-traveled Whalers are happy to be in Anchorage for the second time since the new year. Last week, Barrow was in town for the ACS Invitational, where they placed fourth,
“(We’re) just enjoying the daylight,” said Fruean. The last sunset in Barrow was Nov. 18; the next sunrise isn’t until Jan. 23.
Alaska Prep Shootout
Barrow 76, Eagle River 73 OT
Valdez 55, Kenai Central 37
Palmer 45, Grace Christian 41
Dimond 62, West Valley 30
Eagle River 64, Kenai Central 56
4:30 p.m. — Grace vs. West Valley
6 p.m. — Barrow vs. Valdez (semifinal)
7:30 p.m. — Palmer vs. Dimond (semifinal)