The Thunder Mountain High School Falcons boys basketball team dropped their final two games at the Anchorage Christian Schools Invitational last weekend after beating Nome 44-41 in the tournament’s first round.
“There are a lot of things that we need to improve upon,” TMHS head coach John Blasco said. “Especially against teams that are going to press you defensively in multiple ways. These teams up here don’t sit back in a zone so you have to be aggressive offensively.”
Friday’s semifinal clash saw the Falcons (1-4) fall to 3A power Barrow 57-36.
The Whalers jumped out to a 20-6 first quarter advantage that the Falcons couldn’t cut into to for the remainder of the game.
Barrow led 32-18 at the half and 40-27 starting the final stanza.
“They jumped on us early and executed their game plan very well,” Blasco said. “From start to finish both offensively and defensively. They did a lot of screening, cutting and back doors and we had a hard time rotating to cover.”
The Whalers also applied an intense pressuring man-to-man defense that didn’t allow the Falcons to get into an offensive rhythm. Thunder Mountain missed 10 layups according to Blasco.
Travis Johnson led the Falcons with nine points, Matt Seymour added eight, Josh Tupou six, Mike Uddipa and Sam Jahn three apiece, Trent Uddipa, Ty Grussendorf, and Ben Jahn two each, and Allen Shaw one. Colin Long tallied 19 points for the Whalers and Taylor Masterson added 13.
Thunder Mountain hit 10-19 from the charity stripe and Barrow was 6-16.
The Falcons finished their ACS tourney woes with a 31-27 loss to Valdez in the third place game.
Thunder Mountain trailed 12-11 after the first quarter then took a 20-19 lead into halftime.
The Falcons led 27-26 at the end of the third period when the lid was shut on the hoop, literally, for the final eight minutes of play. The Buccaneers managed just five points, off of five free throws.
“We did not score in the fourth quarter,” Blasco said. “It was quite the shootout. We really could not find a way to put the ball into the bucket. We played good defense and forced turnovers but we could not convert them.”
The Falcons missed layups, short and long jumpers, put backs and easy shots.
Sam Jahn led the Falcons with nine points, Johnson six, Shaw and Seymour four each, Uddipa and Ben Jahn two apiece. Sam Masters and Alex McDonald had nine apiece for the Buccaneers.
Thunder Mountain hit 7-12 from the charity stripe, Valdez hit 8-15.
According to Blasco the officials allowed lots of physical contact and both teams had trouble adjusting to scoring in that style of play.
“I have never heard of a five-point fourth quarter, all by free throws,” Blasco said. “And I have never been shutout before. It is not like we didn’t have good looks. It was definitely another lesson learned about how to finish, how to get to the free-throw line and how to find a way to score.”
The ACS boys beat Barrow 73-69 for the championship in a rematch of last season’s state tournament semifinal game. Nome beat Skyview 51-34 in the fifth-place game and Bethel topped Point Hope 78-50 in the seventh-place game. The Falcons leave for a tournament in Kodiak on Thursday.
“It is still early in the season,” Blasco said. “This is only our fifth game. There is still that learning curve. I think a lot of what they are understanding is that the tempo and intensity that you play at in practice carries over into the game. We are playing against teams that are coming after you for 32 minutes, they are coming physical and they are coming hard, you have to be able to counter that.”