East Bounces Back
Last year the East Anchorage T-Birds had a mistake prone 2011-2012 season going (9-9), lost first round in the Regional Tournament and ended the season ranked 15th in state looking as though their future would be bleak. This year led by second year Coach Josh Muehlenkamp the T-Birds have emerged back into the threshold of Cook Inlet Conference basketball as a serious contender at state.
Earlier this week the AlaskaPreps.com #2 ranked East Anchorage T-Birds lost to #1 ranked Service Cougars. However, Saturday night the East T-Birds displayed resiliency with full court pressure and a win against APC #6th ranked Bartlett Golden Bears.
With 5:06 remaining in the first quarter the East T-Birds gained their first lead (7-6). This quarter was a battle for both teams using speed and full court pressure to create six lead changes and one tie in 5 minutes.
The Bears senior center Bradley Johnson 14 points and senior guard Keeondra Rowland 10 points also assisted in trying to elevate the Bears past the T-Birds. The second quarter was a defensive scuffle, 1O turnovers and steals combined from the pressure the T-Birds put on the Bears. Scoring was (17-12) giving the halftime lead to East (39-31). Third quarter is where the separation and focus for the T-Birds take form, outta the gate T-Birds go on a (10-0) run until 5:31 when Sherman-Newsome answered. The tempo picked up for both teams but the deficit is too big and the T-Birds out-score 28-18.
The bigger Golden Bears tried to control the paint with their strength, but the T-Birds pressured the ball and forced turnovers. Leading the way for the Bears was senior forward Izaiah Sherman-Newsome 24 points. East Anchorage were led by senior guards Jarred Laws with 23 points and Xavier Johnson with 22 points. Sophomore guard Desmond Johnson 15 points shooting 7-8 from the line and senior forward Michael Bond 10 points added to the balance of score and a (91-76) win.
Second to None
Service Cougars have proven they are the team to beat, by winning the Cougar tip-off early in December setting the template of a State Championship. Most opponents have been defeated by double digits Bartlett, Dimond, ACS a non conference opponent but a viable Alaska team, and then East High.
The AlaskaPreps.com (APC) second ranked East T-Birds fought the APC first place ranked Service High Cougars in an up and down game with both teams playing a similar style of full court pressure and getting deflections.
The first quarter concluded with a close (16-15) Cougars lead. The second quarter was a flurry of defensive stops, and offensive turnovers for both teams. T-Birds led by senior Jarred Laws 20 points and sophomore guard Desmond Johnson 12 points were the only two players to score in the second quarter for the T-Birds (16-5). The Cougars began to separate and take control, by delivering six assists among four scorers collectively contributing to a (34-20) half time lead. Third quarter was a battle; both teams fighting for the win, with the Cougars gaining the slight edge (19-17) the T-Birds made sure their opponents felt the pressure.
Cougars led by senior guards Adam Klie 17 points, Marcus Robinson 16 points, junior guard Ihro Raguinin 13 points, and junior forward Reece Robinson 12 points. Going into the second half with a deficit the T-Birds could not fully recover and the Cougars again win (69-51).
Klie says "they are picking it up individually, playing team ball, and having fun". When asked about their dominance in the league, Klie says "they are a confident team but they must come to play every game" as they prepare to meet their next opponent and south side rival South Anchorage Wolverines.