Birchwood Christian makes history — again
After becoming the first team in school history to reach the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Class 2A State Basketball Tournament, the Warriors again made history by earning the school’s first state tourney win by defeating Bristol Bay in the opening round Monday, March 12 at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
BCS won in dramatic fashion, pulling ahead in the final 20 seconds to win 34-33. Noorvik defeated BCS 58-38 on Tuesday in the semifinals.
The Warriors played Yakutat on Wednesday in the third-place game, but a score was not available before the Star went to press. Check www.alaskastar.com for updates. Noorvik faced Scammon Bay in Wednesday night’s championship game. Results can also be found at www.asaa.org.
Against Bristol Bay, Dylan Keiffer gave Birchwood its first lead of the game when he hit the eventual game-winning jumper with 19.5 seconds left in regulation.
The Angels nearly won as Bristol Bay’s Brandon Rush had a shot rim out as the buzzer sounded.
Dylan Keiffer finished with eight points for Birchwood, which also got three each from Caleb Duplessis, David Rud and Isaac Foreman.
Despite trailing by as many as 11, Birchwood stayed positive, head coach Robert Vickers said.
“When the chips are down, they never get on each other’s backs,” he said of his team, which advanced to state by winning the Central Interior Conference championship. “That’s their heart.”
The Angels’ tough man-to-man defense held the Warriors to just 12 first-half points, Vickers said.
“The whole first half, they shut us down totally,” he said.
BCS found its offense in the second half when the Warriors started driving inside, Vickers said.
Birchwood also made defensive adjustments.
“They were starting to penetrate on us,” Vickers said.
Birchwood, which switched to a two-three zone defense, held Bristol Bay to 15 points in the second half and outscored the Angles 14-7 in the final eight minutes.
“They responded well,” Vickers said. “They stepped up their defense.”
The Warriors got six 3-point field goals from six different players.
Mike Rud, who was named Player of the Game for BCS, led the Warriors with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Rud recorded a team-high 18 points and 11 rebounds against Noorvik. Dylan Keiffer, who scored eight points, was named Player of the Game.
Danny Wells led Noorvik with 26 points, including four 3-pointers. The Bears made seven treys and shot 44.6 percent from the floor.
“That’s a stellar ball team there,” Rud said.
Rud said Birchwood failed to make easy buckets near the hoop.
“We just could not put those in,” he said.
Foreman had seven points for BCS, Chase Patterson had three and Duplessis added two.
The Warriors shot just 20 percent from the field.
“It was just one of those shooting nights,” Vickers said.
But, he said, BCS battled the entire game.
“Our guys never gave up,” Vickers said. “It’s not often you see a team down 20 and keep fighting ‘til the end. I was really proud of our boys.”
For Birchwood to have success, the team must have success in the paint, Vickers said.
“Our inside shots need to fall,” he said.
Though BCS stumbled in its bid to reach the finals, the Warriors planned to be ready for Yakutat, Vickers said.
“We’ll come out firing again,” he said following Tuesday’s loss.
Rud echoed his coach’s words.
“We’re gonna see if we can get the bronze,” he said. “We’re gonna be coming back strong.”