The Thunder Mountain High School girls basketball team manufactured just field goals Friday night against Sitka, who’s crippling defense was the catalyst in a 57-16 road win in the Thunderdome.
It was the second night in a row the Wolves (5-0) defeated the young Falcons (2-3), who struggled to keep in front of Sitka players on the fastbreak.
“We can run plays and get the shots we want,” Sitka junior forward Abby Forrester said. “But if we can go get some layups, we’ll go get some layups.”
Even as they executed a full-court press, the Falcons’ defense did little to slow Sitka’s Forrester (11 points), Marlis Boord (12 points) and Tiffany Elefante (11 points).
Senior point guard Tatum Bayne, who scored 18 points the night before against the Falcons, left the game midway through the third quarter with an apparent right shoulder injury.
Cyrene Uddipa and Nina Fenumiai combined for 11 points in the loss for TMHS.
Trailing the Wolves 32-7 at halftime, Uddipa scored five quick points to start the third quarter. The senior guard was left open from beyond the 3-point arc and underneath the basket, leading to a Sitka timeout.
TMHS coach Chandler Christensen thinks she knows why her Falcons took so long to find a rhythm on offense.
“Coming out here, Sitka’s a very fundamentally-sound team, very good defensively, and we just got rattled so it definitely took some of our energy out,” Christensen said.
The Falcons defeated North Pole and Hutchinson in Fairbanks in the week before the Thursday-Friday series against Sitka.
After Bayne’s injury, the Wolves scoring spree took a three minute hiatus before Forrester made two free throws with a remaining in the quarter. The Wolves added three points to their lead in the third quarter before scoring 13 unanswered points in the fourth.
Overall, TMHS shot 24 percent from the field compared to the Wolves’ 41 percent.
“I think especially in these games it’s good to get the shots up, even if we’re missing them, get them up, see what can happen,” Christensen said. “We know that they can hit them as we keep progressing throughout the season.”
The Falcons have next weekend off before they host Juneau-Douglas High School on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5. Sitka plays in the ACS Tournament in Anchorage Jan. 5-6.
Sitka 44, TMHS 24
When the reigning Class 3A state runner ups come to town, one better come ready to play.
Playing before the raucous Thunder Mountain High School pep band Thursday night at TMHS, the Sitka Wolves girls basketball team outscored the Falcons 17-4 in the first half on their way to a 44-24 road win.
Bayne led the Wolves with 19 points while Boord added 10 points. Freshman guard Neal Garcia sunk two 3-pointers to finish with a team-high eight points for TMHS.
Nina Fenumiai and Cyrene Uddipa, who combined for 36 points less than a week earlier in a game against Hutchinson, were held to just two points respectively.
“It’s early in the season and we still have a lot of things to learn and work on,” Sitka head coach Sondra Lundvick said, “but I think our defensive intensity is there and that’s what I always strive for with our team.”
The Sitka zone defense prevented the Fenumiai from gaining position near the basket most of the game. It also forced TMHS guards into late-shot clock jump shots. Uddipa was 2 of 9 from the field.
The Wolves took advantage of long rebounds to push the ball on the fastbreak, resulting in layups when the outlet passes hit their target. About half of them were too wide or long of the intended receiver.
“I thought we were really sluggish,” Lundvick said. “We got off the ferry at 2 o’clock this morning and I don’t think anybody got more than about four hours of sleep last night.”
The Falcons offense looked sharper in the second half thanks in large part to Kyra Jenkins Hayes. The junior scored five of her seven points in the third quarter.
The Wolves got the better of the Falcons in the early part of last season as well, winning by about 30 points in two games.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.