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Turning the tears around: After tough loss Friday, Seward earns state bid Saturday with 2nd place

Posted: Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Seward girls basketball team walked off the court with teary eyes Friday night -- and did it again the next afternoon.

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Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Seward's Jessica Stallings keeps the ball from Cordova's Mallory Merritt in the second period Saturday during the Southcentral Conference tournament at Nikiski High School.

There were no slumped shoulders or hanging heads the second time. Only hugs and hoots and a round of high-fives.

Seward is going to the Class 3A state tournament for the first time since 2006.

The Seahawks picked themselves up after a devastating 53-47 overtime loss against Anchorage Christian Schools in the Southcentral Conference championship Friday evening and beat Cordova 56-38 in a winner-to-state, loser-out contest Saturday at Nikiski.

"We talked about it all last night. I told the team I really wanted to cut down the nets for regions, but more than anything we wanted to go to state," said Emily Draper, the team's only senior. "My whole team feels that, all of us wanted to do it. Just knowing that, knowing we had a chance, it brought us back."

Seeded No. 1 for the conference tournament, the Seahawks had multiple chances to clinch a state berth and the conference title in a wild game against No. 3 ACS.

Draper, who finished with 11 points, hit a 3-pointer from the right wing with 46 seconds left to tie it at 42 after Seward had trailed the entire second half.

ACS turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, but the Seahawks failed to capitalize when a bounce pass from Chelsey Clarke to Jessica Stallings skipped out of bounds.

Seward forced a jump ball on the inbounds pass and took possession again, but Clarke missed a shot from close range. The Seahawks retained possession after the ball rolled out of bounds at the 14-second mark.

After a timeout, Draper was double-teamed in the corner in front of her own bench and lost control with 5.9 seconds to play.

ACS then committed its third turnover in as many possessions when a Lillian Crayton pass was intercepted by a Seward player, who tossed the ball to an open Clarke. Clarke's midrange jump shot from the baseline bounced off, and a follow-up by Stallings rattled out as the buzzer sounded.

The Lions opened a four-point lead in overtime and hit five free throws to ice their fifth consecutive conference championship.

"All of us worked together like a good team, a lot of hard work and dedication," said Dallas Dickerson, one of seven freshmen for ACS. "We all kept working together."

Seward trailed the entire second half -- never by more than four points -- after there had been seven lead changes in the first.

ACS enters state as the top seed out of the Southcentral conference, seeking its fifth straight appearance in the title game.

The squad won championships in 2008 and 2009.

"It all came together today," ACS coach Darrin Powers said. "We talked all season about how it comes down to March 3, and the girls came through. I don't know if we're going to win a championship, but I'm really proud of them."

That would not be the end to Seward's season.

On Saturday against Cordova, the Seahawks took control in the first quarter and never looked back.

They held a double-digit lead from the second quarter until the final whistle, controlling the Wolverines in the post. Seward finished with a rebounding edge of 34 to 16.

Stallings posted a team-high 17 points, while Meg Berry added 14, the same total she tallied against ACS. The win means Seward is the conference's second seed for state, which begins March 17 at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage.

"It's what I've always wanted. It means so much," Draper said. "When I was a little girl I got to watch them play at state. And then coming into freshman year we had such a bad team. We lost all these games. To make it, finally, my senior year, and to see all the improvement over the years, it's awesome."

Given how many chances the Seahawks had against ACS on Friday, and the fact they had less than 24 hours to regroup, made Saturday's win especially sweet.

Coach Curtis Berry said the team had a meeting late Friday night, at which time he told the players to forget about the ACS loss.

"It comes to a point where you tell them the past has to be the past," Berry said. "In basketball somebody is going to lose. When you hang it out there and give it your all and come up short, that hurts. But you've got to come back and do it the next night."

Nikiski 33, Grace Christian 28

Four Bulldogs scored at least five points as Nikiski beat Grace Christian 33-28 in a loser-out game Friday. Makenzie Moore scored a team-high nine for the Bulldogs, who led 20-12 at halftime.

Kelsey Burroughs of Grace poured in a game-best 16.

Cordova 31, Nikiski 30

Despite 17 points from Makenzie Moore, Nikiski saw its season end in a 31-30 loss against Cordova in a consolation game Saturday morning.

The Bulldogs would have played a loser-out, winner-to-state contest later Saturday on their home floor had they won.

Instead, the focus is on next season. Nikiski returns all but two players -- seniors Britany Tuttle and Angie Parrish.

"It's all going to depend on offseason work," coach Lee Moore said. "How much time they want to spend in the gym. It's one of those things. They've got lots of potential. It's up to them for how close to that upper-end of the potential they can get."

Nikiski was the No. 2 seed for the tournament, while Cordova was fifth after going 0-10 in conference play during the regular season.

The Wolverines defeated Grace Christian on Thursday.

"They have been playing well all season, just not quite well enough to win games," Moore said. "You knew that they were going to be tough coming in."

Nikiski had a chance to win inside the final five seconds. Down a point, Moore was bumped while shooting a 3-pointer, but the whistle didn't blow.

The ball bounced off a Cordova player and slid out of bounds with 1.9 seconds left. Savannah Griffel got a look at the buzzer, but the shoot clanked off the rim.

"The girls played hard. The ball didn't bounce our way a couple times and we didn't get a couple calls we desperately needed," Moore said. "The buzzer goes off and life goes on. Hopefully the girls can learn some life lessons from it and be better people in the long run. That's our ultimate goal."

Friday girls

Championship

Lions 53, Seahawks 47 (OT)

ACS 18 11 4 9 11 --53

Seward 17 8 7 10 5 --47

ACS (53) -- Warren 1 0-0 2, Dickerson 3 6-6 12, Crayton 5 3-4 16, Snyder 5 0-1 11, Taylor 3 2-2 8, Ealum 1 0-1 2, Severson 0 0-2 0. Totals -- 18 11-16 53.

SEWARD (47) Erchinger 0 0-2 0, Lindquist 0 0-2 0, Zweifel 0 0-0 0, VanBorstel 0 0-0 0, Berry 4 2-4 14, Draper 4 0-0 11, Stallings 2 1-2 3, Campbell 0 0-0 0, Clarke 5 0-0 10, Adelmann 3 3-7 9. Totals -- 16 6-18 47.

3-point field goals -- ACS 4 (Crayton 3, Snyder 1); Seward (Berry 4, Draper 3). Team fouls -- ACS 9, Seward 8. Fouled out -- ACS 16, Seward 15. Fouled out -- Berry.

Bulldogs 33, Grizzlies 28

Grace Christian 4 8 7 9 --28

Nikiski 10 10 4 9 --33

GRACE CHRISTIAN (28) -- Dupea 2 0-0 5, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Fredrickson 0 0-0 0, Todd 0 0-0 0, Eckmann 2 0-1 2, Burroughs 6 4-7 16, Birky 0 0-0 0, Viergutz 1 0-0 2, Ihde 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 11 4-8 28.

NIKISKI (33) -- Griffel 1 4-4 7, D. Holloway 0 0-0 0, Dixon 0 0-0 0, T. Holloway 0 1-2 1, Tuttle 2 1-2 5, Parrish 3 1-4 7, Moore 2 4-4 9, Wallis 0 0-0 0, Martin 2 0-0 4. Totals -- 10 11-16 33.

3-point field goals -- Grace Christian 2 (Dupea, Eckmann); Nikiski 2 (Griffel, Moore). Team fouls -- Grace Christian 16, Nikiski 13. Fouled out -- Todd.

Saturday girls

Second-place game

Seahawks 56, Wolverines 38

Cordova 7 9 10 12 --38

Seward 15 16 12 13 --56

CORDOVA (38) -- Webber 6 5-8 18, Morrisett 1 0-0 2, Gonzalez 0 0-0 0, Adajar 0 0-0 0, Gilman 4 2-2 10, Maxwell 0 0-0 0, Kelly 2 0-0 5, Merritt 1 0-0 3, Howard 0 0-0 0, Carter 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 13 7-11 38.

SEWARD (56) -- Erchinger 1 0-0 2, Zweifel 2 0-0 5, VanBorstel 0 0-0 0, Berry 5 2-2 14, Draper 1 4-7 6, Stallings 8 1-2 17, Campbell 1 0-0 2, Clarke 2 4-5 8, Adelmann 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 20 11-17 56.

3-point field goals -- Cordova 3 (Webber, Kelly, Merritt); Seward 3 (Berry 2, Zweifel). Team fouls -- Cordova 15, Seward 18. Fouled out -- none.

Wolverines 31, Bulldogs 30

Cordova 9 3 10 9 --31

Nikiski 10 3 10 7 --30

CORDOVA (31) -- Webber 5 3-4 13, Morrisett 0 0-0 1, Gonzalez 0 0-0 0, Adajar 2 0-2 4, Gilman 2 0-0 5, Maxwell 0 0-0 0, Kelly 4 1-3 9, Merritt 0 0-0 0, Carter 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 13 4-10 31.

NIKISKI (30) -- Griffel 2 0-0 5, D. Holloway 1 0-0 2, Dixon 0 0-0 0, T. Holloway 0 0-0 0, Tuttle 1 0-0 2, Parrish 1 2-4 4, Moore 5 5-5 17, Martin 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 10 7-9 30.

3-point field goals -- Cordova 1 (Gilman); Nikiski 3 (Moore 2, Griffel). Team fouls -- Cordova 10, Nikiski 11. Fouled out -- none.

All-tournament team

Coach of the year -- Lee Moore, Nik.

MVP -- Chelsey Clarke, Sew.

First team -- Dallas Dickerson, Anc; Lillian Crayton, Anc; Misa Webber, Cor; Mackenzie Fredrickson, Gra; Heidi Eckmann, Gra; Makenzie Moore, Nik; Savannah Griffel, Nik; Meg Berry, Sew.

Second team -- Sarah Taylor, Anc; Chelsea Snyder, Anc; Angie Kelly, Cor; Kari Gilman, Cor; Angie Parrish, Nik; Jessica Stallings, Sew.

Sportsmanship awards -- Angie Parrish, Nik; Sarah Taylor, Anc; Neeka Erchinger, Sew; Christina Morrisett, Cor; Kelsey Burroughs, Gra.



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