Lady Whalers finish regular season with wins over Kotzebue
The Barrow High School Lady Whalers and Kotzebue Lady Huskies both went into the final week of the regular season looking to prove to themselves they were the top two teams heading into the Western Conference Basketball Championships.
Both can consider their goals accomplished.
Barrow locked up the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament by grinding out a pair of tough wins in front of a large crowd in the Kotzebue High School gymnasium.
The wins, however, didn't come easy at all. A fact the Lady Huskies can take into the regional tournament, which begins March 9 at Dimond High School in Anchorage.
"We played two really good games defensively and got two hard-fought wins," said Barrow head coach Chad Bunselmeier. "Kotzebue played a really aggressive man to man. We had a couple injuries early in Friday nights game and I was proud of the way the girls kept their composure and were able to finish strong. Our bench stepped up and played some huge minutes."
Despite a swarming Kotzebue defense, Barrow took the opener of the two-game series on Friday by a slim 39-28 margin.
Rose Mongoyak and Milya Wright led the Lady Whalers' offensive push with eight points each. Kuutuuq Danner and Felila Tua'i added seven and six, respectively.
Barrow's offense got off to a better start on Saturday. The Lady Whalers built a 19-11 lead in the first quarter and then managed to grind out a 42-26 victory.
Bunselmeier praised the efforts of Melissa Nicely and Rebecca Gerke, who came off the bench and played significant minutes.
"Becca stepped up and allowed us to rest players and played a strong 30 minutes," he said. "Melissa played every minute and did an outstanding job guarding the point."
Danner led Barrow in the scoring column on Saturday by throwing in 12 points. Nicely added 10, while Mongoyak chipped in nine.