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Prep Hoops: Lexi Cook pumps in 27 points to lift Metlakatla over Tikigaq for 2A girls state crown

Metlakatla’s Lexi Cook lets off some steam after winning state. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

There was a changing of the guard Saturday night in Class 2A girls basketball.

Metlakatla wiped away years of frustration after erasing a third-quarter deficit to beat perennial powerhouse Tikigaq 51-42 in the state tournament championship game in front of 3,500 fans at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Junior Lexi Cook scored 10 of her game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter as Metlakatla won the school’s first girls title in its fifth appearance in the state final dating back to 1989.

The 6-foot forward stood tall for the Miss Chiefs, making 11-of-15 shots from the field and five of six from the line in addition to grabbing 13 rebounds.

Saturday’s game was a rematch of last season’s title tilt as Tikigaq was gunning for a three-peat.

“We knew we had to be ready for them,” Cook said. “We knew they were good. We knew they were a tough team.”

2A Girls All-Tournament
Jennifer Nash, Tikigaq
Raeleen Bradley, Unalakleet
Cheyenne Fields, Glennallen
Lily Esmailka, Susitna Valley
Kennedy Cook, Metlakatla
Lexi Cook, Metlakatla
Ryley Booth, Metlakatla
Sophie McManus, Nenana
Tatiana Nashookpuk, Tikigaq
Kristy Housler, Nenana

Led by last year’s 2A player of the year Jennifer Nash, the Harpoonerettes rallied from a 12-point deficit to take a 34-33 lead late in the third quarter on Ella Kowunna’s free throw.

Nash pumped in 10 of her team-high 19 points in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, she knocked down a 3 to tie the game 37-37 and moments later hit a pair of free throws to forge a 39-39 deadlock.

But Cook carried Metlakatla down the stretch as her team beat Tikigaq for the first time in at least eight years.

“They wanted it just as much as us,” Cook said.

Metlakatla coach Tyson Hayward applauds after his team drilled a 3-pointer. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

Metlakatla ended the season on a 20-game winning streak and finished 21-2 overall, losing to 3A Grace Christian and 4A Bartlett over Christmas break.

The Miss Chiefs also got a big lift from Ryley Booth, who scored all 11 of her team’s points in the third quarter.

Booth played big with Tikigaq focusing on taking Cook out of the low post, where she hurt the Harpoonerettes in the first half with 16 points.

“We knew they were going to make adjustments and collapse, so it opened up the outside shot,” said Metlakatla coach Tyson Hayward.

Cook scored her team’s first 10 points as she used her length and strength to her advantage. She kept it going in the second quarter and her layup pushed Metlakatla’s lead to 20-8.

Tikigaq’s Jennifer Nash looks to make a move against the defense of Metlakatla’s Bree Chavez. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

Nash and Tatyana Nashookpuk (10 points) got the comeback started. They hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Harpoonerettes their first lead of the game at 32-30.

Credit Cook and Booth for providing the 1-2 punch Metlakatla needed to knock out the champs.

“We knew it’s a game of runs. We’d go on a run, they’d go on a run,” Hayward said. “It’s whoever can shorten the span of runs.”

TIKIGAQ (42) – Oktollik 0, E.Kowunna 3, Nash 19, Hunnicutt 0, Rock 6, T.Nashpookuk 10, Oktollik-Nashpookpuk 4, J.Kowunna 0, A.Nashookpuk 0, Muktoyuk 0.
METLAKATLA (51) – K.Cook 5, Winer 0, Chavez 4, L.Cook 27, Booth 13, Hayward 0, Williams 0, Buxton 0, Saa.Buffalo 0, Sar.Buffalo 2, Martinez 0, Nelson 0.
Tikigaq 6 10 18 8 – 42
Metlakatla 16 8 11 16 – 51

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