Falcons' girls sweep three-game road trip

TMHS finding ways to win as a team

The Thunder Mountain High School girl’s basketball team educated three Northern teams on how to play basketball, sweeping a triple-road-trip through Anchorage and beyond and piling up their first three-game win streak of the season.


The Falcons (6-9 overall, 1-1 southeast conference) found three different ways to dominate, all involved scoring the ball.

The Falcons first drove past the outskirts of Wasilla and topped Houston 51-43 on Thursday.

“We were pretty hungry,” TMHS coach Tanya Nizich said. “The girls went right to work. We did a good job of controlling the game.”

The Falcons fed the hot shooter, riding the backspin touch of sophomore Sarah Morris.

“She just went off,” Nizich said. “Her teammates, talk about teamwork, recognized her as having the hot hand and they looked for her every time up the court. Her teammates really fed her the ball and she produced. She was doing it all.”

Morris hit 8-13 from the field and 8-9 from the free throw line to tally a game-high 25 points as TMHS dominated the traditionally strong 3A team.

TMHS led 12-11 starting the second quarter as five different players scored.

Morris took over that duty with 12 points in the second stanza on an assortment of shots. The attention gathered from the Hawks left sophomore Siosi Tupou free to drain two long triples and the Falcons had wracked up 20 points and taken a 32-20 lead into the break.

The Falcons played hard into the third quarter as well, scoring 10 points and limiting Houston to just six as they built a 42-26 advantage starting the final stanza.

Freshman Ava Tompkins added six points and a game-high 10 rebounds, Tupou six points, senior Jonelle Staveland (3 assists) and sophomore Ashley Young five each, junior Michaela Demmert and senior Eyerus Tingley two. Demmert badly sprained her ankle in the first period and did not finish the game. Morris also had a game-high three steals.

TMHS did allow 17 points in the fourth quarter. Houston was led by No Ne Hale’s 15 points and Kimberly Quincy’s eight.

TMHS hit 11-14 at the charity stripe, Houston 13-17.

On Friday the Falcons used a balanced attack that put four different players into double figures as they blasted the 4A Cook Inlet Conference Service Cougars 61-28.

Morris continued her hot shooting, scoring eight of her game-high 15 points in the first period and Young added five of her game-high 15 points in the stanza, as the Falcons took a 16-7 lead into the second quarter. Young also grabbed a season-high 17 rebounds in the game.

“The beauty of this trip was that every different game we were finding people who would be the high scorer or close to it,” Nizich said. “In any team you want to be able to see multiple people get in the double digits, and knowing that each of these individuals can put up points like that is really exciting. We can rely on four-to six different people to carry the team from night to night.”

Defensively the Falcons out hustled Service, forcing eight turnovers in the second period (19 for the game) and holding the hosts to just four points. The Cougars scored 11 points in the third period but the Falcons stayed active and led by 23, 45-22 starting the final quarter.

Staveland and Tomkins added 10 points apiece (7 and 4 RBs, respectively), Siosi seven, Cheyenne Ekis two points and nine rebounds.

Kyla Pearce led the Cougars with seven points. Service hit 5-14 at the charity stripe while TMHS went 17-26.

On Saturday the Falcons put seven scorers in the scorebook, meaning no player was not ready to take the ball to the glass, and stopped the Cook Inlet Conference 4A Bartlett Golden Bears 52-44. The game was held at West Anchorage High School as Bartlett was hosting the state wrestling championships.

“The Service game really gave us the confidence going into play against Bartlett,” Nizich said. “Since it was at West, no team had the home court advantage.”

Staveland dominated the action after scoring just two of the Falcons’ four points in the first quarter and none in the second, by hitting 19 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. The binge included three swishes from beyond the arch and 10-12 from the charity stripe, and getting one steal.

TMHS trailed 9-4 starting the second period before turning the momentum around and closing to within two at the break 17-15.

“We just slowly and gradually picked it up,” Nizich said. “We kept it pretty steady to finish the game off strong.”

Demmert returned to action for the Falcons after badly spraining her ankle in the first period of the Houston game. Demmert hit three deep shots from beyond the arch in the second and third quarters and Tompkins found the basket on drives to the hoop.

“They were huge for us,” Nizich said. “There is not one individual that is higher than anyone else right now. We are really sharing the points and it was definite teamwork to get these wins.”

The two totaled nine and 11 points, respectively, on the night as the Falcons held a 31-29 lead starting the final period. Tompkins also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

Morris was given the man-to-man defensive assignment of stopping Bartlett’s junior star Nadine Fraker after the Golden Bear hit two triples in the first period over the Falcons’ zone. Fraker finished with 14 points, just eight after Morris began her aggressive play. Morris also added to the free throw total by hitting 4-6 in the final stanza and five points for the game, while also grabbing seven rebounds, getting two assists and one steal.

“Her defensive was key for us,” Nizich said. “Without that it could have been a different story for the game.”

Tingley hit her three points in a crucial fourth quarter run. Young (5 RB) tallied two points and Tupou one, all in the first half. Bartlett was led by Kiera Stokes 17 points. TMHS hit 19-30 at the free throw line, Bartlett 4-12. TMHS takes their three-game winning streak on the road against Mt. Edgecumbe on Thursday and Sitka on Friday and Saturday. The Falcons opened the season with two losses to the Lady Wolves at TMHS, 52-36 and 56-45.

“We really need to rely on everyone on our team,” Nizich said. “With us, it is a definite team win every game.”


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