BCS boys cagers earn return trip to state
The Warriors are heading back to state.
With a 44-27 win over Cook Inlet Academy in the Peninsula Conference tournament second-place game Saturday, March 2, Birchwood Christian School’s boys basketball team earned its second straight state berth. Tournament-host Lumen Christi won the championship 47-43 over CIA on Friday, March 1.
In the Eagles’ second chance to punch their ticket to state in as many days, it was all BCS early on. The Warriors opened the game on a 12-0 run and built a 16-point lead by halftime.
Earning the momentum from tipoff keyed the victory, said Warriors’ coach Brad Rud.
“We needed to make some early shots and we did,” he said.
Most of them came from senior Caleb Duplessis.
Duplessis pumped in a game-high 24 points, nearly outscoring CIA by himself.
“He came out shooting the lights out,” Rud said.
After a disappointing shooting percentage in the past few games, Duplessis said he was dialed in against the Eagles.
“I finally got a game where I was on with my shots,” he said.
The Eagles and Warriors know each other well. Saturday’s game marked the third meeting in a week between them.
Fourth-seeded CIA spoiled Birchwood’s hopes of winning a second consecutive conference title after a 46-32 upset Thursday that knocked the top seed into the loser’s bracket. The second time around, the Warriors made adjustments, Rud said, and were prepared for the Eagles.
“The players executed extremely well,” he said.
Three and a half hours before meeting CIA on Saturday, BCS downed Ninilchik 43-27 in an elimination game. Holding a one-point lead, the Warriors outscored Ninilchik 19-4 in the final period. Mike Rud paced BCS with 20 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter.
“We asked a lot from them and they came through,” coach Rud said.
Mike Rud, who averaged 17.2 points in the Warriors’ five conference tournament games, was named to the All-Conference First Team and the All-Tournament team. Senior Chris Manning earned Second Team all-conference honors.
The Warriors’ quest for the Class 1A state title begins March 16. Last year, BCS finished third at the 2A level.
On the girls’ side, Birchwood’s season ended with a 35-27 loss to Lumen Christi. Seniors Ariel Rud (14 points) and Katelynn Becker (10) led the Warriors.
Becker was named to the all-tournament team and Ariel Rud was an all-conference first team selection.
Nikolaevsk won the championship and CIA finished second.
Despite the loss, BCS ended its season in top form, head coach Tamie Vickers said.
“They finished the strongest I’ve ever seen them play,” she said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Saturday’s game was a huge improvement from the 20-point loss the last time BCS met the Archangels, Vickers said.
“We played with intensity,” she said. “They really stepped it up.”
Along with Becker and Ariel Rud, BCS is losing seniors Savanna Cage and Jordan Duplessis. Those four make up all of the Warriors’ upperclassmen.
Next year BCS will lack experience — barring a transfer the Warriors won’t have any seniors on the roster. But, Vickers said, she plans to compensate by improving the team’s fundamentals over the summer. To compete in the tough Peninsula Conference, ball-handling skills are essential, Vickers said.
“The defense is just too good and too strong to not have good fundamentals,” she said.
The benefits of moving from the Central Interior Conference were obvious in Birchwood’s first year in its new league, Vickers said.
“It’s challenging us to become a better team and program,” she said. “The girls have grown in this conference in so many ways.”
The returning Warriors have plenty of speed, which bodes well for BCS next season, Vickers said.
“I’m looking forward to next year and what these young ones can do,” she said.
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727.
All Peninsula Conference Team:
First Team: Mike Rud, Birchwood; Pat Moran (MVP), Lumen; Jack Wheeler, Ninilchik; Erik Mametieff and Blake Klaich, Nikolaevsk. Second Team: Mylon Weems, CIA, Timmy Smithwick, CIA; Levi Mann, Wasilla Lake; John Romanoff, Nanwalek; Aiden Philpot, Seldovia; Chris Manning, Birchwood.
First team: Sophia Kalugin (MVP), Nikolaevsk; Ariel Rud, Birchwood; Maddi Fagnani, Lumen; Megan Bauder, CIA; Darla Soulak, Wasilla Lake. Second team: Melissa Clark, Ninilchik; Kyla Stafford, Nikolaevsk; Robin Jones, Lumen; Nicole Moffis, CIA; Marina Chissus, Seldovia; Kaylee Mayler, Wasilla Lake.
Peninsula Conference scores:
BCS 29, Ninilchik 26
Katelynn Becker led BCS to a narrow 29-26 win over Ninilchik in the opening round of the tournament Feb. 27.
Nikolaevsk 56, BCS 23
Ariel Rud’s 13 points led the Warriors in a 56-23 loss to eventual champions Nikolaevsk on Feb. 28.
BCS 32, Wasilla Lake 25
Ariel Rud scored 10 points and Katelynn Becker added eight to help the Warriors past Wasilla Lake Christian 32-25 on Friday, March 1.
Lumen 35, BCS 27
Ariel Rud (14 points) and Katelynn Becker (10) led the Warriors in their season-ending 35-27 loss to Lumen Christi on Saturday, March 2.
BCS 79, Nanwalek 51
Mike Rud erupted for 36 points to lead BCS past Nanwalek 79-51 on Feb. 27.
CIA 46, BCS 32
Mike Rud paced BCS with 11 points in a 46-32 loss to CIA on Feb. 28.
BCS 58, Seldovia 47
Caleb Duplessis (15 points), Tyler Kieffer (15) and Mike Rud (14) all reached double digits to lead BCS past Seldovia on Friday, March 1.
BCS 43, Ninilchik 27
Mike Rud poured in 20 points to lead the Warriors past Ninilchik 43-27 on Saturday, March 2 to reach the second-place game.