The East Anchorage Thunderbirds boy’s basketball team resembled Southeast Alaska’s old-school Metlakatla Chiefs as they ran, pressed and shot from outside the radar screen in a 77-54 Capital City Classic opening win against the West Valley Wolfpack on Thursday at JDHS.
“We are small and athletic,” East coach Josh Muehlenkamp said. “We have to focus on defense and rebounds. So we are trying to force tempo and we are trying to get a lot of possessions and trying to get kids to play faster than they are used to.”
If that sounds like Metlakatla basketball, it should.
Muehlenkamp, born in Fairbanks (UAF player) and high schooled in Seattle, coached the Metlakatla boys for five years.
“I am trying to get there,” Muehlenkamp said. “My Met kids took charges and played well together and fought for each other... and I am starting to see that with this team of kids right here. These kids are pretty good and they are starting to get that level of confidence in each other.”
Holding a 17-13 lead starting the second period, East’s Jarred Laws quarterbacked the T-Birds with 10 of his team high 17 points and Xavier Johnson hit two deep triples for six of his 17.
East opened a 20-point lead midway through the second quarter and was never threatened in the second half.
Desmond Johnson added 13 points for East, Michael Bond 10, Haney Jacobo six, Matthew Hardwick five, Damon Pelham four, Matthew Gwayi-Chore three, and Louis Bonner two.
West Valley was led by Jason Gordon’s 14 points, Daniel Hornbuckle added 13 points, Daniel Remington 12, Jacob Carson six, Charles Sudduth five, Forrest Clark and Corey Kulis two apiece.
East hit 15-22 at the line, West Valley went 5-10.
The Thunderbirds improved to 6-0 on the season.
“It takes time,” Muehlenkamp said. “This group is going to be pretty good at the end of the year. They have to understand that they always have each others backs at all times and they have to be committed to each other.”
East plays Sitka, a 65-59 winner over JDHS, at 3 p.m. today. West Valley plays JDHS at 7 p.m. tonight. Shooting contests are at 11 a.m. today.