Wolves take second at Service Tip-Off tournament
First tournament. First trophy.
First-year head basketball coach Fred Young has already brought some hardware back to Eagle River High. The Wolves placed second at the 32nd Annual Cougar Tip-Off Tournament at Service High on Dec. 17.
East Anchorage — where Young previously coached — took third and Chugiak won the consolation championship.
Service beat Eagle River 77-30 to claim the title in the tournament finale Saturday night. Eagle River senior Chris Parker and junior Shaquan Rhoades were both named to the all-tournament team.
In the championship, Rhoades led Eagle River with 11 points followed by Parker with 10.
Eagle River will have a chance at redemption when it takes on the Cougars in its season opener Jan. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Service. It’s a game the Wolves were already looking forward to following the loss in the Tip-Off championship, Young said.
“The kids are up for that,” he said.
The second meeting between the two Cook Inlet Conference squads will be different, Young said. Eagle River, which is practicing every day the school is open over the holiday break, will be stronger, he said.
Service won’t be the same, either, Young said.
The Cougars won’t be able to drain as many shots as they did against Eagle River in the tournament, he said.
“They will not shoot that well again,” Young said. “They were shooting lights out.”
Eagle River allowed Service too many uncontested shots, Young said. Of the Cougars’ nine 3-pointers, two-thirds were open looks, he said.
“We didn’t get out on them,” Young said.
The Wolves also need to work on rebounding and playing tougher defense, Young said. The tournament brought those areas that need improvement to light, he said.
“We learned a lot more about the team,” Young said.
Eagle River defeated Class 3A Haines 59-50 on Dec. 16 to advance to the finals. Parker and Rhoades — who had five steals — led the Wolves with 16 points each. Senior Kelechi Madubuko chipped in 10.
The Wolves trounced three-time Class 2A state champions Point Hope 66-16 to open the tourney Dec. 15. Parker had a team-high 25 points, including 13 in the third quarter. Rhoades added 12.
Ten different Eagle River players recorded points in the win.
A transfer from Virginia, Parker’s performance didn’t surprise his coach.
“I expected that out of him,” Young said.
Despite holding a 14-point lead at the half against the Harpooners, opening game jitters led to a subpar performance, Young said.
“Against a better team, we’re down by that many,” he said.
Eagle River calmed down and came together as a unit in the second half, Young said.
“I’m pretty happy with the last 16 minutes,” he said. “I was happy with their intensity.”
Winning two games to open the season was great, Young said. But the first-year coach has bigger goals for his team, which has already equaled its win total from last season.
“This year, I have the bar set real high,” he said. “We should be happy for this win but not satisfied.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected]