JUNEAU, ALASKA (KINY) - The Southeast Conference Champion Mt. Edgecumbe Braves outran the Western Conference runner-up Kotzebue Huskies in their opening game of the 2021 March Madness Alaska 3A Boys Basketball State Championships on Thursday at Colony High School.
Mt. Edgecumbe used a high-energy offense and a swarming defense to rein in Kotzebue for a 68-35 win.
The Braves opened a 37-16 lead at the end of the first half behind the hot shooting of Ronald Alstrom-Beans, Ranen Wassillie and Mason Ivanoff. Alstrom-Beans hit three shots from behind the arch in the first two quarters of play while totaling 16 of his game-high 23 points. Wassillie had 10 of his 14 points in the first half, and Ivanoff six of his 10 points in the first half.
“I thought we came out a little bit flat but I felt we got settled in pretty good,” Mt. Edgecumbe coach Archie Young said. “It was a good first game for us to get minutes in for everybody, good quality minutes for everybody, and kind of get our feet wet so to speak.”
The Braves jumped on the Huskies to open the second half, taking a 44-16 advantage within two minutes of play and led by 30 points, 56-36, starting the fourth quarter.
Mt. Edgecumbe freshman Jacob Friske tallied the first two state tournament points of his career at the 3:10 mark of the fourth quarter and added a steal with one minute left in the game.
The Braves made 13 of their 22 free throws, the Huskies made four of 10.
Mt. Edgecumbe will take on the Anchorage Christian School Lions in a 6 p.m. semifinal Friday at Wasilla High School. ACS defeated Hutchison 74-29 in their first game.
“It is back to what we talked about all year,” Young said. “RJ (Alstrom-Beans) brought it up: ‘We have to play every game like it is our last, because it could be.’ I think we really need to grasp onto that tomorrow and play it like our last game because it could be.”
Mt. Edgecumbe: Ronald Alstrom-Beans 23; Ranen Wassillie 14; Mason Ivanoff 10; Connor Journey 4; Rylan Armstrong 6; Keenan Kashevarof 4; Jacob Friske 2; Fredrick Myers 2; Hugh Youngers 2; Miles Bourdukofsky 1.
Kotzebue: Devin Sheldon 13; Aiden Ivanoff 10; Kai Whitmore 4; Cody Kramer 3; Gage Swanson 2; Kevin Schaeffer 2; Zachary Roetman 1.