The Thunder Mountain High School boy’s basketball team wasted little time on Thursday getting back into form for the 2014 season, holding off traditional Western Conference 3A power Barrow 65-57 at the Holland America Holiday Shootout in Sitka.
“It was a scrappy game for the first three quarters,” Thunder Mountain coach John Blasco said. “Obviously it was both team’s first game.”
Junior Jacob Calloway scored 23 points, senior Ben Jahn 13 and Josh Palmer added 12 (10 in the second half) to lead the Falcons.
Barrow senior Lawrence Kaleak tallied a game high 29 points, including five three-pointers from beyond the arch (four in the third quarter).
“Lawrence tore us up,” Blasco said. “We put four different guys on him. The kid could hit. He had a very nice step-back three that he kept hitting.”
Calloway, Jahn, junior Collin Ludman and senior Matt Seymour all had opportunities to stop the Barrow sharpshooter.
Seymour had two fouls in the first quarter and Calloway stepped up in his absence to score six points and help the Falcons to a 14-12 advantage.
“Jacob had a great game,” Blasco said. “When Matt got two quick fouls, Jacob really stepped up. It was nice having him knocking down shots in the first half and keeping us in the game.”
Blasco said the game was a two-to-three point spread throughout.
Seymour picked up his third foul late in the second quarter and Kaleak hit 6-8 from the charity stripe in the stanza to give the Whalers a 26-25 half-time lead.
Barrow had an eight-point lead in the third period as Kaleak connected on four triples.
“That was the biggest lead,” Blasco said. “We chipped away from there.”
Starting the final quarter trailing 47-44, the Falcons held Kaleak scoreless from the floor and the Whalers to only 10 points, while scoring 21 themselves.
“We did a better job of denying Lawrence the ball late in the game,” Blasco said. “He wasn’t creating his shots as much because we had more help on him. We also got more aggressive with our offense.”
The Falcons did not hit any three-pointers in the final quarter but got point contributions from six different players.
“I knew the first half would be sloppy because it is the first game and it is completely different from practice,” Blasco said. “I am obviously happy with the outcome. It was a good, competitive, close game, which is something we can learn from a lot more than a blow out one way or the other.”
Possessions were key for the Falcons in the second half and getting key stops.
“We missed a lot of opportunities in the first half,” Blasco said. “Which was due to excitement and being over energized. We probably had 13 turnovers in the first half. Keeping it close was the important part when you are not playing well.”
Blasco acknowledged the play of Trent Uddipa at the point, the defense of Ludeman and the contributions of everyone that got in the game.
“We played man (defense) the whole game,” Blasco said. “In retrospect, we should have considered zone or box-and-one with Lawrence being as hot as he was. But that is all in hindsight.”
Seymour added six points for the Falcons, T. Uddipa four, Mike Uddipa, Ludeman, and Guy Bean two each, and Brendan Pietz found court time.
Barrow’s Makana Ahgeak scored 12 points, Sione Tuai 11, Tony Dunbar three and Robert Karayuiak two.
TMHS hit 19-29 from the charity stripe compared to Barrow’s 10-14.
The Falcons play the Aurora Conference’s 3A Grace Christian Grizzlies today and the Southeast Conference’s 3A Sitka Wolves on Saturday.