Though two of the state’s best 3-point shooting teams faced off Friday at Thunder Mountain High School, the winning shots didn’t come from distance, but only 15 feet from the backboard: the Falcons won their home opener against West Valley with a 16-19 performance from the line, including going 6-6 in the final two minutes.
The Thunder Mountain boys (3-2) notched their first home court 4A win in two seasons 62-56. Four free throws from Josh McAndrews, two from Noah Reishus-O’Brien and a fastbreak bucket from Chase Saviers iced the game in the final two minutes.
“It’s just practice makes perfect. We shoot free throws in practice constantly,” Saviers said. “They have two awesome players in Cornelius Mingo Jr. and Jaden Whiteside. It was just a hard-fought game the entire way.”
Riley Olson led the Falcons in the win with 16, followed by Saviers with 14 and Noah Reishus-O’Brien and Luke Clark with 10 each.
West Valley’s Whiteside — considered one of the best shooters in the state — blanked two free throws which would have tied the game with 16 seconds remaining. He led the Wolfpack in defeat with 15.
Mingo Jr. had 12, Jaquarious Ward added 10 and freshman guard Dylan Erhart had seven.
Each team hit six shots from the arc.
Coach John Blasco said it “helps to get that one off your back.”
“There’s that added pressure playing in front of your family, your classmates, so getting that one out of the way so you can just relax and play basketball, it feels good,” Blasco said.
West Valley (3-4) and Thunder Mountain had played twice already this season, splitting two mid-December matchups by less than five points (Falcons 64, Wolfpack 69; Falcons 58, Wolfpack 54).
TMHS started the game slow, going down 0-10 in the first quarter before a pair of 3-pointers from Luke Clark helped the home team close the gap to 12-17 by the end of the first.
The Falcons kept pace in the second with solid post play from Riley Olsen to head into half down 26-31. Saviers lit up in the third quarter (nine points on three field goals and 3-4 from the line) and the Falcons took the 45-44 lead heading into the fourth.
Coverage of Thunder Mountain’s Saturday night game with West Valley didn’t make print deadlines. Look for results at the Empire online at juneauempire.com.
The Falcons head to Dimond High School next weekend for the AK Prep Shootout.
FALCONS 62, WOLFPACK 56
Thunder Mountain 12 14 19 17 —62
West Valley 17 14 13 12 —56
Thunder Mountain (62) — Olsen 16, Saviers 14, Reishus-O’Brien 10, Clark 10, McAndrews 7, Carandang 3, Storie 2
West Valley (56) — Whiteside 15, Mingo Jr. 12, Ward 10, Erhart 7, Winfrey 5, Campbell 4, Davis 3
Free throws — Thunder Mountain 16-19, West Valley 6-13
3-point goals — Thunder Mountain 6, West Valley 6
Team fouls — Thunder Mountain 14, West Valley 17
Read more local Sports coverage: