Wolves claim third at Cougar Tip-Off
Eagle River outlasted Palmer 59-52 to claim third place at the 33rd Annual Cougar Tip-Off Tournament at Service High on Saturday, Dec. 15.
Leading by one late in the fourth quarter, Shaquan Rhoades followed a 3-pointer with a steal and the bucket to put Eagle River up 55-49.
Forced to foul, Palmer put Rhoades at the line twice in double bonus situations. He made three of four free throws.
Eric Roberts sealed the win for the Wolves when he stripped Palmer’s Connor Looney — who scored a game-high 27 points — with under 30 seconds left. The play resulted in Hunter Hill at the free-throw line where he made one of two.
Rhoades and Roberts, who combined for 39 points against the Moose and were both named to the all-tournament team, stepped up in the third-place game, Eagle River head coach Fred Young said.
“Our big guys came through,” he said.
On Saturday, the Wolves came prepared, Young said, unlike Friday’s game when Eagle River suffered a 60-34 loss to defending Class 3A state champion Monroe Catholic. The Rams eventually finished second after losing 60-36 to Service in the title game.
“We made a huge improvement,” Young said. “The difference was patience.”
Young said his team was so calm against Palmer that it made him calm. When a play broke down, they didn’t implode, he said.
That composure coupled with a team full of positive attitudes and ability bodes well for the Wolves this season, Young said.
Daniel Dirscherl and Isaiah Banks led Eagle River with eight points apiece against Monroe.
The Wolves opened the tournament with a 65-52 win over Ketchikan on Dec. 13. Rhoades paced Eagle River with 24 points. Roberts (11 points) and Hill (10) also reached double digits for the Wolves.
While satisfied with accomplishing its goal of finishing the tournament with a winning record, Eagle River is nowhere near its potential, Roberts said.
“We’re gonna take this win and build on it,” he said. “We’re gonna get better and better.”
Playing up-tempo is key for the Wolves, Roberts said.
“When we bring energy, our team gets enlivened,” he said.
Over the holiday break, the Wolves are playing in the 13th Annual Cactus Jam Phoenix Hoop Classic in Phoenix, Ariz., on Dec. 26-31.
The team is looking forward to the challenge of facing Outside opponents, Roberts said.
“We’re gonna represent Alaska well and Eagle River for sure,” he said.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected].