The Barrow girls basketball team defeated defending state champion Nikiski 37-36 on Thursday in the first round of the Class 3A state basketball tournament at the University of Alaska Anchorage Sports Center in Anchorage.
Last season, Nikiski defeated Barrow 51-41 in the state championship game. This season, the Whalers (22-5 overall) were able to turn the tables by holding the Bulldogs (19-5) without a field goal for the final 3:10 of the game.
Nikiski will play in the fourth-place bracket today at 11:20 a.m. at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena. Barrow moves on to a semifinal matchup at 3:30 p.m. at the Sullivan.
The win also marked a measure of redemption for Barrow’s perennial all-state player Piggy Pili, a 5-foot-7 senior. Last year, Pili had nine points on 3-of-19 shooting in the state title game facing tough defense from 5-7 Nikiski senior Hannah Thompson. On Thursday, Pili was able to produce 14 points.
The Bulldogs were down 32-25 in the final quarter when a 7-0 spurt tied the game with 4:30 remaining. Thompson started the run with a 3-pointer, the lone 3-pointer for the Bulldogs on the afternoon. Eliza Chadwick and Kyla Jorgensen then both hit layups to tie the game.
After Barrow’s Jennifer Martelle and Thompson trade free throws, Chadwick gave the Bulldogs the lead with a layup with 3:10 left. Pili answered right back with a layup to tie the game at 35.
There was no scoring until 1:00 left, when Tasha Thompson gave Nikiski a 36-35 lead by hitting 1-of-2 from the foul line. Pili then came down and missed a 3-pointer, but ended up with the ball again and assisted on a layup by Leslie Hopson that gave Barrow a 37-36 advantage with 20 seconds to play.
Nikiski called timeout with 11 seconds left, then turned the ball over. Because Barrow was not yet in the bonus, Nikiski had to foul twice to send Pili to the line with .9 seconds remaining. Pili missed the first and Nikiski immediately called timeout. The Bulldogs were not able to advance the ball the length of the court and get a shot after the timeout.
Chadwick paced the Bulldogs with 16 points. Her spark off the bench was key in the Bulldogs taking an 8-4 lead after the first quarter. Also for Nikiski, Kyla Jorgensen and Becca Carlson had six points apiece, Hannah Thompson had four points, Sherra Pritchard had three points and Tasha Thompson had one point.
For Barrow, Hopson added 12 points.
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