ANCHORAGE -- Save the pinches for another day.
This was no dream -- and the Seward girls basketball team wore plenty of green.
Making their first appearance at the Class 3A state tournament since 2006, Seward defeated Craig 68-51 Thursday at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage to move into the state semifinals.
The Seahawks, who wore all-green uniforms on St. Patrick's Day, face Barrow at 5 p.m. Friday at Sullivan. The winner advances to the title game.
Not bad for a team that finished at the bottom of the league standings three seasons ago.
"It feels great," junior guard Meg Berry said. "We've all been working hard for the past three years. So to finally get here and win, it's awesome."
Berry scored a game-high 21 points and added eight steals as the Seahawks used a 20-10 run in the second quarter to build a 10-point halftime lead.
Seward, seeded No. 2 out of the Southcentral Conference, bumped the lead to as many as 20 in the third and never let Craig within single digits over the final 10 minutes.
Craig entered as the top seed from the Southeast Conference.
"We knew that they were going to go for us. This was a big opportunity for them too," Seward coach Curtis Berry said. "We knew they were going to come to play ball and we would have to match that or be better to come out on top. The kids stepped up."
Tessa Adelmann scored 15 points for the Seahawks (19-7), while Chelsey Clarke added 14 and five rebounds. Jessica Stallings chipped in five and a team-best 11 rebounds.
The Panthers had four players score in double figures -- Alex Owen (13), Melissa Castle (11), Maggie Dinon (10) and Elizabth Isaacs (10) -- and outrebounded Seward 37-32.
But Craig committed 19 turnovers and received just two points from its bench. The Seahawks, meanwhile, got 20 points off the bench.
"Everybody played a part," Curtis Berry said. "I don't want to leave anybody out because they all contributed."
Although the Seahawks feature just one senior, Emily Draper, who has never been to state, nerves weren't an issue.
They were calm from the opening whistle, even after Craig took a 12-7 lead. Seward responded with eight of the final 11 points to close the first quarter, poured in 20 in the second and never looked back.
"We were very proud of the way they came out," Curtis Berry said of the team's play in the first half. "We knew we were going to have to do that."
Now Seward's attention turns to the semis, where they are an underdog.
Curtis Berry said his message has and will continue to be to enjoy the experience and seize the opportunity.
The players, of course, don't want the season to end anytime soon.
"We're thankful to be here and we're going to continue to work hard," Meg Berry said.
Seahawks 68, Panthers 51
Seward 15 20 17 16 --68
Craig 15 10 15 11 --51
SEWARD (68) - Lindquist 2 0-0 5, Zweifel 1 0-2 2, VonBorstel 0 0-0 0, Berry 7 6-7 21, Draper 1 4-8 6, Stallings 2 1-2 5, Clarke 7 0-2 14, Adelmann 5 4-4 15. Totals - 25 15-25 68.
CRAIG (51) - Dinon 4 0-0 10, Owen 5 2-2 13, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Beckman 2 1-3 5, Isaacs 5 0-2 10, Castle 3 3-4 11. Totals - 20 6-11 51.
3-point field goals - Seward 3 (Lindquist, Berry, Adelmann); Craig 5 (Dinon 2, Castle 2, Owen). Team fouls - Seward 11, Craig 16. Fouled out - Castle.
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