The Thunder Mountain High School girls’ basketball team completed a three-game sweep of competition with a 43-25 win over Palmer in the championship game of the Mt. McKinley Bank Holiday Classic at Monroe Catholic in Fairbanks on Saturday.
“The key for us was focusing on our defensive game,” Thunder Mountain coach Tanya Nizich said. “They were much bigger and stronger inside than we were. We had to adjust some things to be able to stop them form entering the ball into the post.”
The Falcons also limited the Moose to just one shot, blocking out and securing the ball for a fast push up the court.
For the second night in a row, Falcons junior center Ashley Young controlled the paint, scoring a game-high 14 points and securing 12 rebounds. She led all scorers the night before with 22 points, after missing the opening game due to the flu.
“We brought her out to clear out the key a bit against a bigger team like Palmer,” Nizich said. “She always finds an opening and she was quick enough to throw a shot fake and get around the defense to the hoop.”
Although Palmer took the first quarter 8-6, baskets by Young, Ava Tompkins, Alondra Echiverri and Siosi Tupou turned the tide in the second quarter and the Falcons led 20-16 at the half.
Tupou and Cheyenne Ekis buried deep triples in the third quarter while Young controlled the inside and the Falcons’ defense held the Moose to just three points for a 37-19 advantage heading into the final quarter.
“Siosi (Tupou) and Chey (Ekis) were all over every ball that would cross through the key,” Nizich said. “They were grabbing steals and taking the ball away.”
Nizich said Tupou and Ekis played outstanding defense in the tournament, Michaela Demmert and Tompkins handled the ball under pressure on the outside, and Young and Echiverri were crucial in using their quickness to drive the ball inside.
“We didn’t go into any of these games thinking that we knew anything about our opponents,” Nizich said. “We just adjusted along the way. The girls paid attention to detail and did exactly what they needed to do to get the job done.”
Tupou added eight points for the Falcons, with Tompkins and Echiverri adding seven apiece, Ekis six and Demmert one.
TMHS hit 4-12 at the free throw line, while Palmer went 4-18.
Osiensky had 10 points for the Moose, Venske and K. Depriest three apiece, Bowman, Ledger, Perkins and L. Depriest two each.
Ava Tompkins was selected the tournament Most Valuable Player and Ashley Young and Siosi Tupou were chosen for the All-Tournament team.
TMHS (5-4) had beaten Monroe 43-18 to open the tourney Thursday and Lathrop 55-36 on Friday. The Falcons will host West Anchorage on Thursday at 6:15 p.m.