Lady Whalers earn 12th straight trip to state
The Barrow High School Lady Whalers are headed back to the Class 3A state basketball tournament - again.
Barrow nailed down its 12th consecutive berth in the state tournament this past weekend with a convincing 47-37 victory over fifth-ranked Kotzebue in the Western Conference Basketball Championships. The BHS girls went 2-0 in the three-day, round-robin tournament.
As for the Lady Whalers' latest trip to state, they can thank a stifling first-half defensive push and a clutch effort from seniors Rose Mongoyak and Alaina Wolgemuth for the tickets. Both helped Barrow weather a third-quarter barrage by Kotzebue that cut an 11-point halftime deficit to one basket midway through the first eight minutes of the second half.
After being held to just 7-for-22 from the field in the first half and heading into the half down by a 21-10 clip, the Lady Huskies made a huge run to start the second half. Calia Sieh and Caitlin Conwell combined to score the first seven points of the third quarter and pulled Kotzebue to within 21-17. After Mongoyak had hit a pair of free throws to end the KHS run, Sieh came up big again for Kotzebue. She buried a three-point shot that left Barrow's lead at three, at 23-20.
Having been outscored by a 10-2 margin to start the third, Milya Wright, Mongoyak and Wolgemuth put the BHS offense on their shoulders. Wright ended the Lady Huskies' run by pushing home a jumper from the free throw line that ballooned the Lady Whaler cushion to five. Mongoyak and Wolgemuth both tacked on shots seconds later and stretched Barrow's advantage to 29-20 with 5:20 left in the stanza.
Kotzebue never got close again.
The Lady Whalers reeled off a 15-7 run over the final six minutes of the third and took an 11-point lead, at 38-27, into the fourth quarter.
Mongoyak led all Barrow scorers in the championship game victory by throwing in 13 points. Wolgemuth and Kuutuuq Danner eight and seven points, respectively, while Chrystalynn Tua'i added six.
Sieh and Alanna Conwell led Kotzebue with 10 apiece.
Kotzebue never recovered from the loss to Barrow. The Lady Huskies suffered a tough loss to Bethel in the second-place game.
Barrow kicked off the tournament with a win over Bethel in the first round of the tournament on Thursday.