The Thunder Mountain High School boy’s basketball team lost to Service 55-49 on Friday in the Thunder Dome despite the torrid first-half shooting of seniors Matt Seymour and Josh Palmer.
“We gave up 55 points so I am not displeased,” Thunder Mountain coach John Blasco said “They had a few possessions that we could have had better help side pressure but overall, defensively, I think we were okay. The ball didn’t fall in the second half.”
The ball fell plenty in the first half as Palmer scored 13 of his 17 team-high points and Seymour 12 of his 15 in the first 16 minutes of action.
The duo scored the first 11 points of the game for Thunder Mountain while Service found a deep threat from Ihro Raguindin and dribble penetration scoring from Nahshon Fromm and Reece Robinson to stay within 15-13 after one quarter.
After Palmer buried a deep triple to start the second quarter, Service’s Pindo Drammeh began to make his presence felt on the inside, blocking two shots in the first minute of action.
Robinson chipped away at the lead with two buckets and Eben Upton buried his first of a string of 3-pointers to give the Cougars a 22-20 lead.
Palmer tied the score for the Falcons and Upton buried another triple to take it back.
After Trent Uddipa and Collin Ludeman gave the margin back to TMHS, Upton hit his third 3-pointer in the quarter to regain the lead.
Palmer and Seymour closed out the half with baskets while senior Ryan Lee and Ben Jahn blocked consecutive shots to persevere a 32-28 halftime advantage.
The second half saw an increased full court tempo by the visitors on defense.
“Service is a good squad,” Thunder Mountain coach John Blasco said. “You could see how much more aggressive they were defensively and offensively in the second half. They focused on Josh and Matt and we couldn’t get anything else going around them. Hopefully that would have gotten us open on the inside game. We just couldn’t finish inside and they have a big kid that creates a distraction and that is in the back of our minds. If they are focusing on our guards than we have to have an inside game. We didn’t quite finish inside like we should have. We have to find ways to create opportunities for our shooters without having the ball in their hands.”
The defensive pressure also created more challenged shots and both teams scored just three field goals in the third quarter.
“We just did a better job of defending Palmer and Seymour in the second half,” Service coach Tyler Moor said. “They were making a lot of open shots in the first half. They are good players and you have to defend good players.”
Service got blocks from Drameth and Robinson in the closing minutes of the quarter and a steal by Upton led to a pair of free throws that cut the Falcons lead to three, 39-36, with eight minutes remaining.
Palmer opened the final stanza with a 3-pointer, only to be answered by Service’s Raguindin. Seymour and Uddipa gave the Falcons their largest lead of the quarter, 46-40 at the 5-minute mark.
Service went on a 15-2 run, including 6-6 at the free throw line, to close out the stanza as their press disrupted the TMHS offense.
“We hung around the whole game and showed some patience in the fourth quarter,” Moor said. “We made some big shots in the fourth quarter and making big shots is the name of the game. Fortunately we won. This trip is an opportunity to play good 4A teams in tough road games. The WPI (strength of schedule of opponents) points are big for us.”
The Falcons (11-5 overall, 1-1 Southeast Conference) were number two in this week’s Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches poll behind Cook Inlet Conference’s West. Service (10-5 OA, 5-3 CIC) was looking for payback from their 77-68 loss to the Falcons in January.
“Josh was able to do a lot in the first half with the ball but need to get guys open without the ball,” Blasco said. “We didn’t give up many fast break points, we were trying to find our opportunities to run, but they played tough down late inside, they were drawing the fouls and we weren’t.”
Palmer scored 17 for the Falcons, Seymour 15, T. Uddipa 6, Nye 4, Lee 3, Ludeman and Jahn 2 each. TMHS hit 3-6 at the free throw line, Service went 11-16. Upton led the Cougars with 18 points, Robinson 16, Raguindin 8, Nahshon Fromm 5, Drammeh 4, Nathan Fromm and Nathan Ferguson 2 each.
The Falcons will host JDHS on Feb. 14-15.