Birchwood Christian seeking first state appearances

Boys first, girls second going into conference tourney


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Birchwood Christian’s Michael Rud gets fouled by a St. Paul defender during the Warriors’ 72-55 win on Feb. 24 in Chugiak. Rud led all scorers with 35 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter.

STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

Both Birchwood Christian School (BCS) basketball teams have a chance to make history by becoming the first Warriors team to earn a Class 2A state tournament berth.

The boys enter today’s (Thursday, March 1) Central Interior Conference tournament as the No. 1 seed with a perfect 10-0 conference record and receive a first-round bye.

The team’s hard work has given them success all season and will be key in the Warriors’ quest to earn the Central Interior’s lone state berth, assistant coach Brad Rud said.

“We’ve got a great group of boys,” he said. “Their work ethic is second to none.

“We just have to continue to play our game,” Rud said.

On defense, BCS needs to pressure opposing teams, Rud said, and drive inside to the basket on offense.

Though BCS enters the Central Interior tournament with an unblemished conference record, Rud said his team is keeping a level head.

“We can’t get overconfident,” he said.

The conference has many tough opponents, and getting to state will be no easy task, Rud said.

“If they play well . . . we should have a good shot at winning the regional tourney,” he said.

BCS finished its regular season with nonconference wins over St. Paul and the Valley Crusaders. Mike Rud exploded for 35 points to lead the Warriors past St. Paul 72-55 on Feb. 24, and he pumped in 16 in a 48-41 win over the Crusaders the following night.

The Warriors’ depth is one of the team’s strengths, Rud said.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a deep bench this year,” he said.

Though he’d like to be ahead on the scoreboard at the final buzzer, Rud said the coaching staff wants BCS to play a full 32 minutes every game.

“If they give 100 percent of what they have 100 percent of the time, we’re gonna be pleased,” he said. “It’s fun to win, but we’re proud of our teams win or lose.”

Girls ranked No. 2

At 10-2 in Central Interior play, Birchwood’s girls enter the conference tournament as the No. 2 seed. Top-ranked Tok handed the Warriors both losses this season.

BCS takes on Effie Kokrine today at 2 p.m.

The girls need to put what happened in the regular season out of their minds, head coach Amy Baller said.

“We’ve beat all these teams, but they’ve adjusted to our game,” she said. “With other teams improving, we need to improve.”

Come playoffs, any team can beat anyone, Baller said. The girls must continue to push themselves heading into the conference tournament, she said.

Baller said she wants BCS to run the court.

“We can’t get comfortable with our play,” she said. “We have to continue to push ourselves and improve no matter what the score.”

The Warriors’ starters have been solid all season, Baller said.

“We have a strong five,” she said.

BCS swept Kenny Lake in two nonconference games to wrap up the regular season, winning 26-19 on Feb. 24 and 47-29 the following night. In the second game, Tracy Foster led the Warriors with 16 points and Katelynn Becker added 13. Sarah Jemar paced BCS with nine points in Game 1.

Baller wants her team to play fast-paced basketball and wear opposing teams down in the conference tournament.

“We have to push the ball up the court,” she said.

Earning a state berth is attainable, Baller said, and BCS controls its own fate.

“It’s definitely within our reach,” she said. “We just can’t stop ourselves.”

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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