ANCHORAGE — As the final seconds ticked off the game clock, several Kodiak players glanced at the scoreboard inside Sullivan Arena and knew their dreams of winning a state title were over.
The eighth-seeded Bears let one slip away against top-seeded West Anchorage in the opening round of the 4A boys basketball state championships Thursday at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
Leading at halftime, a fourth-quarter offensive dry spell cost Kodiak as the Bears fell 44-37.
“This loss was tough to swallow,” Kodiak coach David Anderson said. “There were just a couple of things that we did which put us behind.”
The defeat was even tougher to take knowing that Northern Lights Conference runner-up Colony, a team Kodiak beat three times this season, had already advanced to Friday’s semifinal. Had Kodiak won, the Bears would have played the Knights for an opportunity to play in Saturday’s championship game.
Fifth-seeded Colony edged fourth-seeded Thunder Mountain 56-51 in overtime.
“I would have loved to play that game,” Anderson said. “I just feel we match up so well against Colony. I’m glad they got the win to represent the Northern Lights Conference in the semifinals. Too bad both of us didn’t get there.”
Instead, Kodiak must turn around and play Thunder Mountain in a loser-out game at 9:45 a.m. today. The winner moves on to play for fourth place at 2 p.m. Saturday at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Thunder Mountain beat Kodiak 51-36 earlier this season in Juneau.
“We don’t want to get to down,” Anderson said. “We have a game tomorrow against Thunder Mountain. We still have a chance to get that game and go into Saturday’s game, which is something we haven’t done in a long time.”
Kodiak (16-10) relied on two players Thursday — sophomore Alec Canete-Hall and senior Austin Frick. The duo combined to score 29 of Kodiak’s 37 points.
Canete-Hall, who sat briefly in the second after rolling an ankle, went for 15 points, while Frick, who played the entire 32 minutes, had 14 points.
Frick hit only one of his 10 3-point attempts, but made up for it by driving to the rim, something he hasn’t shown this season.
As a team, Kodiak hit only three of its 17 3-point attempts.
“This is real tough’” Frick said. “It is potentially our last game tomorrow. We don’t want to make it our last game. We thought we had them. We just had a couple of mistakes at the end.”
Kodiak only trailed by one point to begin the fourth. West scored the first five points of the frame to take the lead for good at 38-32.
The Bears got their first points of the quarter — a Frick runner — at the 5:20 mark that cut the margin to 38-34.
Kodiak’s only other points of the quarter came on a Canete-Hall 3-pointer with 54.7 seconds left. That shot pulled the Bears to within three.
West prevented the upset by hitting four of its six free throws in the closing moments.
“I knew they would play hard,” West coach Antonio Wyche said. “We were able to change some things defensively and catch them off guard.”
West was playing without its 6-foot, 8-inch star sophomore Brandon Huffman, who has a stress fracture in his shin and will miss the entire tournament.
Kodiak didn’t back down from the state’s best 4A boys team as the two teams traded the lead 11 times over the first three quarters.
Behind 3-pointers from Canete-Hall and Frick, the Bears built an 8-4 lead.
West closed the first half on a 7-2 run and led 11-10 heading into the second quarter.
Kodiak regained the lead, 16-11, on two buckets from Scott Garcia and one from Canete-Hall.
The Eagles rallied to take the lead, but a Frick layup gave the Bears a 21-19 halftime advantage.
West Anchorage, the Cook Inlet Conference champions, took the lead for good at 29-28 with under two minutes left in the third.
Every Kodiak player but Frick was playing at the state tournament for the first time. Jemuel Mangalus and Tyler Canete-Hall played the entire 32 minutes.
“This is a big stage for these kids,” Anderson said. “Playing under these big lights, It is a huge opportunity and I think they played well under it.”
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at email@example.com.
EAGLES 44, BEARS 37
Kodiak 10 11 11 5 — 37
West Anchorage 11 8 14 11 — 44
Kodiak (37) — Mangalus 1 0-0 2, Frick 5 3-4 14, Alcaide 0 0-0 0, Bezona 0 0-0 0, Fried 0 0-0 0, A. Canete-Hall 4 5-7 15, T. Canete-Hall 0 0-2 0, Garcia 3 0-1 6. Totals: 13 8-14 37.
West Anchorage (44) — Whyce 3 0-1 6, Zamora 1 0-0 2, Davis 1 0-0 3, McMorris 2 0-0 4, Ovalles 0 0-0 0, Wilson 2 3-7 8, Christy 0 0-0 0, Gross 4 3-4 11, Harrison 2 0-0 4, Tatufa 3 0-0 6. Totals: 18 6-12 44.
3-point field goals: Kodiak 3 (Frick, A. Canete-Hall 2), West 2 (Davis, Wilson). Team fouls — Kodiak 16, West 15. Fouled out — Garcia.
Service 54, West Valley 45
Service, the Cook Inlet Conference third-place team, beat West Valley 54-45.
4A state player of the year Reece Robinson led the Cougars with 17 poins and eight rebounds.
Travon Brackett and Daniel Hornbuckle each scored 14 points for West Valley.
Service plays East Anchorage in a semifinal game tonight.
Colony 56, Thunder Mountain 51, OT
Damien Fulp and Graham Dinkel each scored 16 points to lead Colony past Southeast Conference champion Thunder Mountain in overtime.
Jacob Calloway dropped a game-high 26 points for Thunder Mountain.
East Anchorage 60, Lathrop 55
Matt Gwayi Chore scored 16 points to help East upend second-seeded Lathrop 60-55.
Kyle Carlson led Lathrop, the Mid-Alaska Conference champions, with 28 points.
Lathrop plays Fairbanks rival West Valley in a loser-out game today.
West Valley vs. Lathrop , 8 a.m.
Thunder Mountain vs. Kodiak , 9:45 a.m.
Service vs. East Anchorage , 8:45 p.m.
Colony vs. West Anchorage , 7 p.m.
Fourth-place game, 2 p.m.
Third-place game, 10:40 a.m.
Championship game, 8 p.m.