Sports

Chris Parker led four Eagle River Wolves in double figures with 16 points to lead his team to a 72-53 Cook Inlet Conference win over South Friday night at Eagle River. The win moved the Wolves to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the CIC.

Also winning Friday night were the Chugiak girls, who got 11 points off the bench from Brandi Bookout to key a 46-38 win over Service to move to 2-0 in the CIC.

Chugiak High senior Jessi McMullen, 17, helped the Mustangs to a second-place finish and was named to the all-tournament team at the Cactus Jam girls basketball tournament in Phoenix on Dec. 27-30. McMullen also added 10 points in Chugiak’s 64-39 CIC win over West Anchorage on Tuesday, Jan. 3. This is McMullen’s third year on varsity. She is the daughter of Greg and Carrie McMullen of Eagle River.

Missing the state tournament last year has Chugiak High’s girls basketball team more motivated for this season. But it won’t be easy getting there this year.

Only the top two Cook Inlet Conference teams will earn automatic state berths. Other automatic Class 4A berths include two from the Northern Lights Conference and one from the Southeast and Mid Alaska conferences.

The final two spots will be determined by Winning Percentage Index standings. This is the first time WPI will be used to determine who goes to state.

Different year, same problem.

Eagle River High girls basketball again is suffering from low numbers. The 2011-12 team has just six full-time varsity players and two JV swingers.

It’s a problem that’s plagued the Wolves since senior captain Meaghan Byman started playing as a sophomore.

“The problem is we have a new team every year,” she said. “That’s a big key to our unsuccessfulness.”

Missing state last year coupled with the new rule that guarantees only two Cook Inlet Conference berths in the postseason this year, Chugiak’s girls didn’t need any extra motivation heading into their first CIC game Tuesday, Jan. 3. But they got it.

Coming into their matchup with West Anchorage, the Mustangs were dubbed “the mystery team.” That nickname only lasted eight minutes.

First-year head coach Fred Young doesn’t care that Eagle River High only won two games last year. He doesn’t care that 10 of his 12 players are new to the team.

His sights are set on making the state tournament and changing the attitude of the boys basketball team.

“We’re looking to change the culture,” Young said. “We want to make state and get what we can on the way there.”

The entire team feels the same way, Young said.

“Their work ethic is out the roof right now,” he said.

Even the start of a new sports season can’t erase the way Chugiak High’s 2011 football campaign ended.

Chugiak was forced to forfeit three of its wins due to use of an ineligible player and missed the playoffs. But some of those football players are hoping to use what happened this fall as fuel for the 2011-12 basketball season.

“It’s motivation for us football players to exceed in another sport,” senior Steven Puterbaugh said.

From the championships to the controversies, local athletes made plenty of headlines in 2011. Here’s how it all went down:

January

Eagle River’s Kinsey Loan earned a trip to the Ski and Snowboard World Championships in Estonia after the Chugiak High senior won a silver medal at the U.S. National Championships in Maine.

Chugiak’s Jake Berkowitz won the Copper Basin 300 sled dog race, arriving at the Paxson finish line six minutes ahead of Lance Mackey.

New Eagle River football field general Jason Brewer plans to bring a no-nonsense coaching style, enthusiasm and plenty of experience to the job when he takes over in the fall.

“The kids know me, the kids know what I’m about,” said Brewer, who previously served for two years as an assistant under Kenny Ray. “I’m about discipline and having fun.”

Brewer isn’t technically a general, but he did recently wrap up his Army career as a 1st lieutenant who returned from a tour in Pakistan and Afghanistan last fall. He recently took a new job with the National Guard.

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