Chugiak boys hit their stride
Wolves bounce back from Birchwood Bowl loss, beat West
Chugiak’s Wade Snell, left, and Eagle River’s Shaquan Rhoades, right, battle for possession during the annual “Birchwood Bowl” game Feb. 16 at Chugiak High. The Mustangs edged the Wolves 50-49.
STAR PHOTO BY MIKE NESPER
Marquis Spearman doesn’t crack under pressure.
The Chugiak High senior made game-winning free throws two nights apart to help the Mustangs to two consecutive, one-point Cook Inlet Conference wins.
Spearman first lifted his team past rival Eagle River 50-49 with less than 8 seconds left in regulation Feb. 16 at Chugiak. He followed by sinking a free throw with 1 second left in overtime to edge visiting South 46-45 on Feb. 18.
With 4 seconds left in the extra period, Spearman got a steal, rushed the length of the floor and drew a shooting foul.
Spearman missed his second free throw, and South’s David Alston’s floor-length, desperation shot was no good as time expired.
Spearman led Chugiak with 14 points. Skyler Fullmer added nine points and Luke Plumb chipped in eight.
The victory was the second conference win of the season for Chugiak, which improved to 2-10 in the CIC.
Chugiak hosted East on Wednesday, Feb. 22, but the Star went to press before a score was available. Check www.alaskastar.com for updates.
The Mustangs finish their regular season at Bartlett on Friday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Chugiak 50, Eagle River 49
Spearman drained a game-winning free throw with 7.7 seconds left in regulation to lift Chugiak past Eagle River 50-49 and claim the “Birchwood Bowl” traveling trophy Feb. 16.
A missed first attempt and deafening noise from Eagle River’s fans weren’t enough to break Spearman’s concentration. Spearman said he didn’t let the pressure get to him after missing his first free throw with the game on the line.
“Just do it like practice,” Spearman said he told himself. “A missed free throw is a missed free throw. You just have to make one of them.”
Wolves’ leading scorer Shaquan Rhoades (18 points) threw up a desperation jumper from the right but missed as time expired.
Chugiak knew Rhoades would be Eagle River’s go-to man, Spearman said, so the team wanted to ensure he didn’t get a good look.
The Mustangs erupted in celebration after earning their first Cook Inlet Conference win of the season over their crosstown rival.
“The whole team is overjoyed,” Spearman said.
The win evened the season series at 1-1. Eagle River downed Chugiak 55-44 on Jan. 18.
This time around, Chugiak played better as a team, Spearman said.
The victory is a huge confidence boost to Chugiak, head coach Kevin Fullmer said.
“It’s a big deal for us,” he said. “I was really proud of them.”
Fullmer said the Mustangs are a different team from the beginning of the season.
“I wish our season started now because they’re ready to roll,” he said.
“Now, we’re just getting the gears together,” he said.
Eagle River 85, West 63
Kevin Waterman erupted for 29 points — 23 of which were scored in the second half — to lead Eagle River past CIC foe West 85-63 on Feb. 18.
Five of Eagle River’s six scorers reached double digits. Rhoades poured in 18 points, Chris Parker scored 14, Kelechi Madubuko added 11 and Nicholas Montgomery chipped in 10.
Eagle River improved to 6-6 in the CIC with the win.
The Wolves hosted Bartlett on Wednesday, Feb. 22, but the Star went to press before a score was available.
Eagle River concludes its regular season at Dimond on Friday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or email@example.com