The Thunder Mountain High School girl’s basketball team has a four-game streak going, and while it is not one that shows on the left side of the won/loss record but tallies on the right, it is also one that has produced more positives than negatives.
Saturday’s 59-52 loss at Lathrop speaks volumes in that the Malemutes are currently rated fourth in the state according to the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches.
The Falcons (1-5 Southeast Conference, 7-15 overall) led 18-12 after one quarter of play and 31-22 at the half.
Senior Jonelle Staveland hit four shots from past the arch in her 16-point first half, three of them in the first period when scoring 11 of her game-high 21 points. The fourth-ranked team in the state could not stop her.
Sophomore Ashley Young hit nine of her 15 game points in the first half, grabbed five rebounds, and had one block against a team that is expected to make ripples at the state tournament.
Seniors Eyerus Tingley, Shayla Reeves, junior Micheala Demmert, sophomores Sarah Morris, Siosi Tupo, Cheyenne Ekis and freshman Ava Tompkins put the first-half defensive clamps on Lathrop’s Jasmine White, Brenae Addy, Erisha Talley, Ruthy Hebard and Rachel Jordan.
Simply stated, the Falcons are better than their record.
They did not begin the season better than their record, but they have made strides each game and cannot be overlooked at the region tournament.
In the four-game road swing the Falcons were outscored in the second half 125-105.
They scored 97 first half points, the same as opponents totaled.
Lathrop found their top gunners in the second half and outscored the Falcons 19-12 in the third and 18-9 in the fourth.
Tompkins and Reeves added four points for TMHS, and Demmert one. The Falcons hit 12-17 at the charity stripe, the Malemutes went 13-20. White led Lathrop with 15 points, Hebard eight, Jordan seven, Fitzgerald and Addy four, Shaw two.
The Falcons have rounded into a team that plays four consistent quarters. That consistency waivers at times inside a quarter but the intensity is always found again.
Where TMHS currently struggles is closing out a game.
Yet a road trip in which each loss was less than 10 points means that they are within a couple possessions of building numbers on their win column.
On Friday the Falcons fell to the West Valley Wolfpack 49-48.
Young scored a game-high 18 points, Staveland and Demmert added 11 points apiece, Tompkins five, and Tingley three.
TMHS hit 6-11 at the charity stripe and West Valley went 10-12.
Callie Franz led the Wolfpack with 11 points, Caitlyn Brice added 10, Carlee Marques and Lawjen Ashmore nine apiece, Maddison Ackiss and Jasmine Bourne four each, and Marina Washburn two.
Thunder Mountain jumped to a 17-8 lead after one quarter and led 30-18 at the break. Just eight points in the third quarter and 17 by the Wolfpack cut the lead to 38-35 starting the final eight minutes of play.
The Falcons opened the road trip with a 64-60 loss to Delta on Wednesday and a 51-42 loss to North Pole on Thursday.
The Falcons will celebrate Senior Appreciation this weekend, hosting the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears (5-1 SE, 12-10 OA). The games will not affect TMHS’ region tourney time schedule or opponent. They will open with Ketchikan (4-4 SE). However, it will affect how they approach the tournament. If the last four game road trip is any indication, then they will be one possession closer to a region title.