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HomeSportPrep Hoops: Eagle River boys catch fire in second half, stave off...

Prep Hoops: Eagle River boys catch fire in second half, stave off elimination in CIC Tournament (plus, Bartlett boys, South & Chugiak girls win)

Eagle River’s Drew Legenza. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

Drew Legenza wasn’t ready for his high school basketball career to end Tuesday night.

The Eagle River senior saved his team’s season with a second-half surge that saw him outscore South by himself during a decisive run that carried the seventh seeded Wolves to a 51-44 road win on Day 1 of the Cook Inlet Conference Tournament.

Legenza scored a game-high 19 points, with 13 coming in a 21-12 surge Eagle River used to take control and prevail in the elimination game, helping the Wolves claim the season series against the Wolverines.

Jack Wallace added 13 points for Eagle River, which outscored South 36-25 in the second half to advance to the second round.

Jordan Griffin also gave the Wolves a lift as he twice hit go-ahead baskets in the second half. His 3-pointer gave Eagle River its first lead at 26-25 and triggered a celebratory fist pump from coach Hal LaPointe Jr. Later, Griffin’s jumper put his team ahead for good at 38-37.

Legenza made it stick after the 6-foot-1 guard converted two layups and drained a dagger 3 to make it 45-37.

CIC Tournament
Boys
First Round

Bartlett 52, Chugiak 50
Eagle River 51, South 44
Thursday @ WHS
Second Round
4:30pm Eagle River (6-18) vs. West (16-8)
7:30pm Bartlett (12-13) vs. Dimond (14-10)
Friday @ WHS
Semifinals
4:30pm ER/West winner vs. Service (19-7)
7:30pm Bar/Dim winner vs. East (23-1)
Saturday @ WHS
4:30pm Third Place Game
7:30pm Title Game

This was a gut-check win for an Eagle River team that came into Tuesday having dropped 18 of 23 decisions on the season and suffered through losing streaks of eight games and seven games. Welcome to life in the big, bad CIC, which makes decent teams look less than.

Credit the Wolves for not throwing in the towel. They finished the regular season by beating South and Chugiak in league games and now have started the postseason 1-0.

Early on, South made it rain as Caleb Doerr, Fafo Lefano and J.P. Castillo each splashed 3s to help build a 15-4 lead. Tanner Smith’s offensive rebound putback made it 25-20.

Castillo’s 17 points made him the lone double-figure scorer for the sixth seeded Wolverines. His and-1 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter gave his team a 33-28 advantage.

Smith’s jumper gave South its last lead of the night at 37-36.

From there, Eagle River held South to just six points the rest of the way to survive and advance to the second round as the tournament moves to West High School for the final three days.

EAGLE RIVER (51) – Legenza 19, Tauaefa 5, Skinner 2, Griffin 9, Wallace 13, Atkinson 2.
SOUTH (44) – Doerr 5, Castillo 17, Lefano 3, Yarrington 6, Miller 2, Smith 6, Marchant 3, Pichardo 2.
Eagle River 4 11 19 17 – 51
South 11 8 16 9 – 44

Bartlett boys 52, Chugiak 50

Lok Kulang’s driving layup with 2:02 to play gave the fifth-seeded Golden Bears the cushion they needed to hold on for a first-round win home win over the eighth-seeded Mustangs.

With his team nursing a 45-42 lead, Kulang got a key bucket to create some breathing room. Moments later, Adrien Phiachantharath hit a free throw and then converted a steal and layup to make it 50-44 with 29 seconds to play.

Jai Jordan’s 11 points led the Bears, who got scoring from eight different players. Marquez Nevitte added eight points.

Chugiak’s Tyler Cage pumped in 29 points and helped keep the game close late. His wing 3 drew the Mustangs within 44-40 and seconds later his two free throws made it 44-42.

Peyton Harr’s 3 pulled Chugiak within 50-47 with 17 seconds left.

CHUGIAK (50) – Abbett 0, Cage 29, Lockwood 1, P.Harr 7, Kalai 0, Juliussen 2, R.Harr 0, Docksteader 2, Lane 0, Walker 4, Larson 4, Curtis 0, Hales 0.
BARTLETT (52) – S.Drussell 7, Nevitte 8, Phiachantharath 6, Jordan 11, A.Drussell 1, Bayath 3, Kulang 7, James 9.
Chugiak 8 16 9 17 – 50
Bartlett 5 21 14 12 – 52

South girls 39, Eagle River 29

A 12-0 run to open the fourth quarter sparked the sixth seeded Wolverines in a first-round home win.

Reese Gebauer and Meadow Morris combined for nine points in the key surge that stretched South’s cushion to 38-22.

Before that, Skylar Morris, Makaylen King and Niveah Heartwell had produced much of the team’s offense, combining for 21 of South’s first 26 points.

Isa Costa da Silva gave South its first lead at 13-12 after making a steal and going coast-to-coast for a layup. Thirty-five seconds later she rolled her left ankle and left the game, although she returned for the second half thanks to an assist from the trainer.

Heartwell’s jump gave the Wolverines a 26-16 lead late in the third quarter.

But Eagle River made a late run, getting as close as 26-22 on Rollman’s post bucket and later pulling within 38-29 on Darby Buyse’s 3-pointer. Buyse led all scorers with 12 points.

EAGLE RIVER (29) – Buyse 12, Palazzini 4, Rollman 6, Reed 5, Masimer 2.
SOUTH (39) – King 8, S.Morris 9, Heartwell 7, M.Morris 4, Gebauer 5, Rzeszut 4, Costa da Silva 2.
Eagle River 9 4 9 7 – 29
South 6 9 11 13 – 39

Chugiak girls 45, East 26

The fifth seeded Mustangs scored 21 of the game’s first 30 points and carried that momentum on their home court to earn a season sweep of the eighth seeded T-birds.

CIC Tournament
Girls
First Round

South 39, Eagle River 29
Chugiak 45, East 26

Thursday @ WHS
Second Round
3:00pm South (11-13) vs. Service (15-9)
6:00pm Chugiak (11-12) vs. West (9-13)
Friday @ WHS
Semifinals
3:00pm Sou/Ser winner vs. Bartlett (15-9)
6:00pm Chu/West winner vs. Dimond (21-5)
Saturday @ WHS
3:00pm Third Place Game
6:00pm Title Game

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