Chugiak girls upbeat despite 1-2 finish in conference tournament

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 20:00
Mustangs will lose six seniors from memorable ‘12 team
Chugiak’s Alistie Aguilar battles for possession against Bartlett in the opening round of the CIC tournament March 1 at West High. Chugiak won 40-21, but lost its next two games.

After trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half, Chugiak’s girls rallied to take the lead but ultimately fell to West High 44-40 in the semifinals of the Cook Inlet Conference basketball tournament March 2.

The Mustangs reached the semifinals with a 40-21 win over bartlett on March 1.

Any slight chance of making state disappeared when the third-ranked Mustangs lost 52-30 to No. 5 Service in the third-place game the following day.

Tournament host West lost to Dimond 64-51 in the conference championship March 3.

Chugiak’s loss to West was demoralizing both because of how close it was and that it essentially ended the Mustangs’ season, senior Erinn Scotland said.

“Our team is really good,” she said. “We should have beat West.”

The second-seeded Eagles were the benefactors of fortunate bounces, Scotland said.

“They just got lucky,” she said. “We were better.”

Chugiak’s Alisite Aguilar led all scorers with 18 points against West. Jessi McMullen hauled in a game-high 13 rebounds for the Mustangs.

Against Service, Aguilar and Jessica Tramp led Chugiak with eight points apiece.

Six seniors (Scotland, Tramp, McMullen, Tracie Haken, Malia McVee and Mina Sayer) will graduate from this year’s team.

Tramp said the 2011-12 campaign was the best season she’s ever had.

“We all really connected,” she said. “We’re all friends. We didn’t have a ‘cliquey’ team at all.”

McMullen echoed Tramp’s sentiments.

“I will remember this team forever,” she said. “We had a lot of good times on and off the court.”

Sayer attributed the tight bond to most of the team having played together since middle school on the Chugiak-Eagle River Huskies club team.

“I’m gonna miss it,” she said. “It was a cool group of girls.”

Though Sayer said she’ll be sad to leave behind the underclassmen such as Aguilar and Madison McAleavey, she’s looking forward to what the future has to bring.

Haken said she’ll miss the coaching staff. Head coach Ryan Hales and his assistants all had their own style, she said.

Like the rest of her fellow seniors, Haken said it was special being part of such a tight-knit group.

“This is the closest team I’ve ever been on,” she said. “We have a chemistry that not every team has.”

Though the Mustangs had hopes of making state, Haken said her final high school season was a success.

“It’s been a good season,” she said. “I really enjoyed it.”

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