With reigning Player of the Year Sayvia Sellers leading the charge, the Anchorage Christian School girls basketball team is the favorite to repeat in the Alaska 4A class.
But when No. 2-ranked Wasilla threatened the top-ranked Lions on Tuesday, ACS used its depth to secure a win.
Junior Maliyah Alex scored eight of her 14 points in the third quarter to help the Lions pull away for a 62-49 victory at the ACS gym. Sellers led all scorers with 20 points, but notched only two points in the fourth quarter as her teammates helped hold off a potential charge by the Warriors.
“That’s a huge part of the game,” ACS head coach Chad Dyson said. “Basketball is a team game so getting everyone involved is important.”
After building a 31-23 halftime lead, the Lions saw it quickly evaporate early in the third as Wasilla scored six straight points in the first 30 seconds.
That’s when Alex started to find her groove, scoring on a string of transition layups to help ACS build its lead back up to double figures.
That lead grew to as large as 14 points at 49-35, but Wasilla refused to go away.
Wasilla was led in scoring by sophomore post Layla Hays with 19 points. The game was a rematch of the 2022 4A title game, in which ACS fairly easily disposed of the Warriors 71-42. But Dyson said Wasilla has proven to be talented and deep as well.
“She’s definitely a good player knows how to seal (off in the post),” he said of Hays. “They’ve got some guards that contribute a little bit so it’s definitely a good matchup.”
Hays said Wasilla, which fell to 8-1 with the loss, still has the opportunity to make major improvements. The team features a number of underclassmen in major roles. After Hays, the team’s next two leading scorers were sophomore Mylee Anderson (9 points) and freshman Mielee Merchant (8).
“We played really well and I think we still have room to grow with our free throw shooting and defense, like helping on Sayvia,” Hays said. “But I think we did a fairly good job for our first time playing them this year.”
Sellers was dynamic throughout, scoring both inside and outside as well as setting her teammates. The senior was opportunistic on defense, creating number of turnovers that led to baskets.
Although both teams had stretches of committing turnovers, Hays was happy with how the Warriors held up against the ACS ball pressure.
“I think we were confident,” she said. “That’s what we try to do in practice, just pressure, pressure, pressure and I think we were ready for it.”
Dyson said limiting turnovers is also a point of emphasis for his team at this point in the year.
“We are just trying to value each possession,” Dyson said. “Try to take one possession at a time and take care of the ball. Try to limit turnovers.”
ACS guard Kellie Kronberger finished with nine points, including seven in the second half.
Hays said the Warriors are already looking forward to the next meeting between the two — on Feb. 28 in Wasilla.
“We’re really excited to play them again,” she said.