Melton, Lady Sissuani race to third at state
ANCHORAGE - Just when King Cove looked primed to rally, Kylah Melton came away with the most important defensive gem of the season. The senior guard picked up a steal near mid-court with 3 seconds left in regulation and helped power the Buckland Lady Sissauni to a third-place finish at the 2017 ASAA Class 1A State Basketball Championships.
With the win, Buckland closed out its 2016-17 season with a sparkling 14-6 record and, even more importantly, secured its second straight third-place finish.
"These girls did pretty good," said Buckland head coach Frederick Lee, who had piloted the BHS girls to five straight state appearances. "I've got no words to explain how proud of these girls I am. It didn't mater if we won or lost, I am proud of these girls."
The Northwest Arctic Conference tournament champion, Buckland looked as if it wouldn't end any late heroics by Melton early in the fourth. The Lay Sissauni, backed by a pair of three-point bombs from junior Nita Thomas, reeled off a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter and raced to a 53-45 cushion with 2:44 left.
King Cove answered back, however. The Rookies scored seven unanswered points in the final 1:17 and gave themselves an opportunity to win late by picking off an errant pass with 6 seconds left.
Melton ended that hope just 3 seconds later with her game-saving defensive play.
"I got kind of scared for a while, but we got it going when we had to," said Thomas, who provided more power than most nuclear reactors for BHS. In addition to her two fourth-quarter treys, she sank three other long-range shots and finished with a game-high 21 points.
Sarah Washington and Jacquelyn Berlin also turned in solid performances in the win. Washington tallied seven points and collected 12 rebounds. Berlin had six points and a game-leading five steals.
The Lady Sissauni fell into the third-place game via a 75-49 loss to eventual state champion Scammon Bay in the semifinals on Friday.
Despite the setback, Sarah Washington played lights out for the Lady Sissauni. She finished the game with almost half of Buckland's offensive points, netting 24 to go along with a game-high 17 rebounds.
Melton and Thomas added 11 and nine points, respectively.
Class 1A Player of the Year Kiah Charlie led Scammon Bay with 24 points and a tournament-best 12 assists.
Buckland had no problem advancing to the semifinal round. In Wednesday's opening round, Melton turned a double-double into a 50-49 victory over the Shaktoolik Lady Wolverines.
Melton finished the contest with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
On Thursday, the BHS girls dominated Klawock early and never looked back en route to a 59-25 decision.
Klawock managed just two points in each of the first two periods of play and never challenged.
Washington notched the first of her two double-double performances in the win over Klawock, netting 15 points and 11 boards. Thomas and Mamie Kirk chipped in nine and eight points.