With his right-hand man stuck on the bench, Andrew Buchanan dazzled like never before.
Buchanan scored 11 of his game-high 29 points in the third quarter as teammate Keenan Prochazka was saddled with four fouls, and the Seward boys basketball team defeated Anchorage Christian Schools 61-58 to win the Southcentral Conference tournament championship Friday night at Nikiski.
The Seahawks (20-4) earn the conference's top seed to the Class 3A state tournament, which begins March 17 at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.
"It's everything," Buchanan said. "I've been playing with these guys my whole life pretty much. It's awesome."
A night after he scored two points in a win over Grace Christian, Buchanan hit six 3-pointers and kept the Seahawks in the game when Prochazka, who was named the tournament's most valuable player, was forced to the bench most of the third quarter because of foul trouble.
He also made the play of the game on defense.
Trailing 59-58, the Lions took possession with 24 seconds remaining in the game. Wesley Arnes caught an inbounds pass at the top of the 3-point line, waited until the 12-second mark and drove past Buchanan, who poked the ball free as Arnes barrelled into the lane.
Seward's Michael Thorn grabbed the loose ball and was fouled with 9.4 to play, hitting both free throws to give the Seahawks a 61-58 lead.
ACS advanced the ball to midcourt following Thorn's free throws and called timeout with 6.6 remaining.
Arnes inbounded to Augustus Simmers and got the ball right back for an open 3-pointer straightaway, but his shot bounced off the heel of the rim and rolled toward the sideline as time expired.
Buchanan said he anticipated Arnes' drive on the previous possession because Arnes made a similar move against him in the Lions' win over the Seahawks two weeks ago.
"I knew I would be able to get a steal right there," said Buchanan, one of six seniors for Seward.
There was irony in Buchanan making the defensive play of the game because he could do no wrong on the other side of the ball.
He torched the Lions from the opening whistle, needing three quarters and just one free throw to pour in 29 points.
Buchanan made step-back jumpers with defenders draped over him. He drove the lane and made layups in traffic. He didn't hesitate when ACS gave him space beyond the 3-point line.
It added up to 11 field goals, and it came 24 hours after the guard committed twice as many fouls -- four -- as he scored points -- two -- in a frustrating performance against Grace.
"I talked to him a little bit one-one-one because he had a tough game," coach Dan Krier said. "I said, 'Hey, don't stop stroking it. You've got to shoot with confidence and they'll start going in.' He got kind of a grin and a smile on his face. That was big."
The Lions hit eight of their first 10 field goals following halftime and took a 51-44 lead at the 2:36 mark of the third, but Buchanan answered with a pair of 3-pointers to close the gap to 53-51.
Prochazka, who hit four of Seward's 10 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, sat on the bench much of the third before returning in the fourth.
His presence alone sparked the Seahawks, who held the Lions to 2-of-8 shooting over the final eight minutes. Neither team led by more than four points during the final quarter.
Prochazka and Buchanan, the team's two leading scorers all season, combined for 47 points.
When the final buzzer sounded, the duo hugged as fans spilled onto the court.
"It's a dream come true. We've wanted this for so long and we got it my senior year," Prochazka said. "I can't be more thankful, man. It feels too good to be true."
Cordova 83, Nikiski 65
Fifth-seeded Nikiski fell behind by 21 points in the first half in a season-ending 83-65 loss to No. 2 Cordova in a consolation game Friday afternoon at Nikiski.
Colton Anderson hit five 3-pointers, was 10-of-10 from the free-throw line and scored 29 points for the Bulldogs. Teammate Sam Taylor added 15.
Christian Brockert and Dane Meyer combined for 54 points, scoring 29 and 25, respectively, for the Wolverines. Seth Balint notched 15.
Cordova 50, Grace Christian 41
The Wolverines advanced to the second-place game thanks to a 50-41 victory over No. 4 Grace Christian on Saturday at Nikiski.
Meyer scored a game-high 23 points, while Brockert added 15. Andrew Bouman chipped in 11 for Grace, which was eliminated in the loss.
ACS boys 43, Cordova 40
The Lions came back from a 20-16 halftime deficit Saturday to defeat Cordova for second place in the tournament and a state berth. The Wolverines saw their season end when they lost to the Lions at the tournament for the second time.
Seahawks 61, Lions 58
ACS 14 21 18 5 --58
Seward 17 21 13 10 --61
ACS (58) -- Voss 7 3-3 17, Hoffman 2 2-2 6, Simmers 8 0-3 16, Arnes 7 0-0 16, McKoy 0 3-4 3. Totals -- 24 8-12 58.
SEWARD (61) -- Prochazka 7 0-3 18, Thorn 2 4-5 8, Pullins 0 1-2 1, Buchanan 11 1-2 29, Terry 2 2-2 6, Perea 0 0-2 0. Totals -- 22 8-16 61.
3-point field goals -- ACSs 2 (Arnes 2); Seward 10 (Buchanan 6, Prochazka 4). Team fouls -- ACS 15, Seward 11. Fouled out -- none.
Wolverines 83, Bulldogs 65
Cordova 21 24 21 17 --83
Nikiski 9 15 21 20 --65
CORDOVA (83) -- Balint 6 3-4 15, Brockert 10 5-9 29, Meyer 7 8-10 25, Adams 0 0-0 0, Nolan 2 0-0 5, Johnson 3 1-2 7, Trumblee 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 29 12-17 83.
NIKISKI (65) -- Anderson 7 10-10 29, Johnson 3 1-2 7, Hartley 2 2-4 7, Covery 0 0-0 0, Taylor 6 0-0 15, Carstens 0 1-3 1, Krogseng 2 1-2 6. Totals -- 20 15-21 65.
3-point field goals -- Cordova 7 (Brockert 4, Meyer 2, Nolan); Nikiski 10 (Anderson 5, Taylor 3, Krogseng, Hartley). Team fouls -- Cordova 20, Nikiski 21. Fouled out -- Balint, Nolan, Taylor.
Coach of the year -- Dan Krier, Sew.
MVP -- Keenan Prochazka, Sew.
First team -- Wesley Arnes, Anc; Chris Voss, Anc; Calvin Hoffman, Anc; Christian Brockert, Cor; Dane Meyer, Cor; Eric Johnson, Cor; Andrew Bouman, Gra; Zach Vandervalk, Gra; Andrew Buchanan, Sew.
Second team -- Augustus Simmers, Anc; Seth Balint, Cor; Jordan Edwards, Gra; Sam Taylor, Nik; Michael Thorn, Sew.
Sportsmanship award -- Alex Brown, Anc; Carlos Perea, Sew; William Roemhildt, Cor; Stefan Krogseng, Nik; Andrew Bouman, Gra.
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