Lady Huskies close season with loss to Bethel
The Kotzebue Lady Huskies basketball season came to a close with a disappointing 45-37 loss to Bethel in the consolation final of the Western Conference Regional Tournament last Saturday at Dimond High School in Anchorage? A win would have advanced the Lady Huskies to the state tournament.
Kotzebue opened the tournament with a 53-43 win over Nome?Capitalizing on full court pressure, Kotzebue jumped out to a 15-8 lead after the first quarter and was never threatened?Alanna Conwell hit for a game-high 27 points and added seven rebounds and four steals?Despite getting out-rebounded for the game, the Lady Huskies won the turnover battle 24-8 and shot 42 percent from the field, while holding Nome to 33 percent.
The win advanced Kotzebue into the championship game against Barrow? This time however, it was the Lady Huskies who got off to a slow start and faced a 13-4 deficit at the end of the first quarter and 21-10 at the half?Kotzebue battled back in the second half, cutting the lead to as few as three late in the fourth quarter, but could get no closer and fell 47-37?Kotzebue's defensive effort was solid, especially on the perimeter, where they limited Barrow to 0-11 from three-point range and 31 percent shooting overall for the game? Offensively, the Lady Huskies came to life in the third quarter with 17 points, nearly doubling the entire first half total?Conwell and Calia Sieh paced the Kotzebue attack with 10 points apiece? Payton McConnell added five points and eight rebounds.
"We showed a lot of character in the second half," said Kotzebue head coach Jade Hill?"A 10 point first half is a lot to overcome, but I was really proud of our effort."?The loss dropped the Lady Huskies into the consolation final, with second place and a berth to state on the line against Bethel, who had lost 59-39 to Barrow in the opening round before knocking off Nome 70-53.
In what was a strange game statistically, Kotzebue dominated nearly every statistical category but shooting percentage?Bethel shot an even 50 percent for the game to 28 percent for Kotzebue and the Warriors held on for a 45-37 win.
Bethel opened with a 10-7 first quarter and led 22-16 at the break? The Warriors would push the lead to as many as 15 before Kotzebue mounted a comeback effort that cut the lead to two, but could get no closer? Kotzebue out-rebounded Bethel 33-22 for the game, had 4 more steals and won the turnover battle 23-16?However, the 2-for-17 from three-point range and just 5-13 from the free throw line ultimately loomed large.
"In the end, it came down to composure," said Hill?"I thought we were the more talented team, but they played with more poise?We were flat to begin the game and maybe if a shot here or there would have dropped, it would have given us the spark we needed to get going, but we never found a rhythm until late in the third quarter, and it proved to be too late?Defensively, we played hard in spurts, but didn't get a consistent effort from all five on the floor at the same time?We got caught trailing screens away from the ball a couple of times, didn't block out consistently enough, and every time we missed an assignment, they hit a shot to make us pay."
Kotzebue's season comes to an end with a 20-9 record, including a 2-0 record over Valdez, and a 24-point win over Galena, both state qualifiers from the Aurora Conference?The Lady Huskies also defeated Grace Christian, the Southcentral Conference champions on their home court.
"We beat Valdez and Bethel twice, and Grace and Galena," said Hill?"We beat four of the eight teams that qualified for state, six wins total over state qualifiers?But we couldn't hit shots when we needed to, couldn't keep our cool under pressure and it cost us."