Boys cagers welcome CIC tourney challenges
No. 5 Wolves face West; No. 8 Chugiak draws Dimond
Chugiak’s Matt Oldenkamp blocks East’s Desmond Johnson on Feb. 22 during East’s 70-58 win at Chugiak. The Cook Inlet Conference tournament began Feb. 29 and continues through the weekend.
STAR PHOTO BY MIKE NESPER
Eagle River boys basketball opens the Cook Inlet Conference tournament today (Thursday, March 1) against No. 4 seed West at 6 p.m. on the Eagles’ home court.
Head coach Fred Young knows West will be looking for revenge after the fifth-seeded Wolves pounded the Eagles by 22 points just 12 days ago.
“They’re gonna come out pretty hard,” Young said.
While the recent win over West is encouraging, Young said, a trip to state is on the line every game of the conference tournament because only two Class 4A berths are guaranteed from the CIC.
“It’s gonna be a pretty good matchup,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s gonna be the toughest game of the year.”
West (7-7) split the regular season series with Eagle River, beating them 66-58 on Jan. 24. The Wolves didn’t do the “little things” the first game, Young said. The second time around, Eagle River used West’s strategy against them, he said.
“We actually beat them at their game,” Young said. “They like to play a little helter-skelter.”
Eagle River lost its final two games of the season to finish 6-8 in the CIC. Dimond (14-0) downed the Wolves 68-50 on Feb. 24 and Bartlett (11-3) won 88-70 two days prior.
Eagle River junior Shaquan Rhoades scored 15 points against Dimond and 16 against Bartlett. Senior Chris Parker pumped in 22 against Bartlett and 13 against the Lynx.
Young said Eagle River will have success if the team stays patient and disciplined.
Having played together all season, Young said the Wolves know where everyone is on the floor.
“They’re confident and coming together as a team,” he said.
Lynx pose tough challenge for Chugiak
The Chugiak boys (2-12) played top-seeded Dimond (14-0) Wednesday, Feb. 29 in the opening round of the CIC tourney, but a score was not available when the Star went to press. Check www.alaskastar.com for updates.
Chugiak had chances to beat East (3-11) and Bartlett (11-4) in the Mustangs’ final two games of the regular season, head coach Kevin Fullmer said. But the T-Birds won 70-58 on Feb. 22 and the Golden Bears edged Chugiak 68-64 two days later.
Marquis Spearman led Chugiak with 19 points against Bartlett and 13 against East.
In the past, Chugiak has prevailed over the top seed in the CIC tourney. In 2007, after graduating a host of talent that took Chugiak to the state championship game a year prior, the eighth-seeded Mustangs knocked off No. 1 West.
“We’ve been there before, and we’ve come out on top,” Fullmer said. “Anything can happen.”
The Mustangs’ conference record means nothing once the CIC tournament starts, Fullmer said.
“Once we start Wednesday, our record is 0-0,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you did before.”
One great night of basketball is all it takes come conference tournament time, Fullmer said.
“You just have to play good the night of the game,” he said.
For success, the Mustangs will have to play as a team, Fullmer said.
Fullmer said Chugiak has caught up on its fundamentals and is a much different team from the beginning of the season.
“We’re starting the second season,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll keep remembering what they learned.”