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HomeSportPrep Hoops: Second-ranked Colony girls come back in last 90 seconds to...

Prep Hoops: Second-ranked Colony girls come back in last 90 seconds to clip No. 3 Wasilla, force three-way tie atop NLC

Alycia Shelley

Alycia Shelley found her stroke at just the right time Friday night for the Colony girls basketball team.

The junior guard scored seven points in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter, including a go-ahead 3-pointer at the 1:30 mark, to key the second-ranked Knights’ 50-48 come-from-behind win in front of a sea of red at No. 3 Wasilla.

Shelley and freshman Jericho Wuestenberg had a hand in 14 of Colony’s final 17 points to help the Knights beat Wasilla for the third time this season and force a three-way tie atop the Northern Lights Conference with the Warriors and top-ranked Mountain City Christian Academy at 8-2.

The NLC is the class of Alaska and Friday’s game featured three first-team all-state stars in Hallie Clark of Colony and Layla Hays and Mylee Anderson of Wasilla.

Almost lost in that mix was Shelley, a third-team all-state sharpshooter who made her presence felt in the second half. She had misfired for most of the game before zeroing in her aim, hitting shots to tie the game 36-36 and 44-44 before drilling a 3 to give Colony a 49-48 lead with 90 seconds left.

Shelley hit a free throw with 20 seconds left to make it 50-48 but missed the second foul shot to leave the door open for Wasilla. The Warriors called a timeout and drew up a play, first getting the ball to Hays who faced a double team and kicked it out to a shooter who missed a 15-foot jumper with 2 seconds left.

It was a stinging loss for Wasilla, which shot itself in the foot down the stretch to spoil a terrific night from Hays. The 6-foot-5 player-of-the-year candidate furnished 19 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots in an excellent effort.

Wasilla’s Layla Hays eyes a free throw. Photo by Bruce Eggleston/MatSu Sports

The surefire Division I center scored 11 points in the first half on shots at the rim. In the second half, however, she showcased the kind of explosive moves that have Power 5 schools salivating – a spin move kiss off glass, a coast-to-coast dribble drive jumper in the lane and bully-ball move in the post where she overpowered her would-be defender.

Hays also played fine defense, crashing the glass, altering shots and blocking a handful, including one emphatic rejection where she spiked the ball like she was back on the volleyball court.

She converted an offensive rebound putback to give Wasilla a 44-41 lead, but she didn’t attempt another shot the rest of the way as Colony defenders collapsed on her with two, sometimes three, defenders.

Anderson missed half the game after picking up her fourth personal foul with six minutes left in the second quarter. She returned in the fourth quarter and immediately grabbed an offensive rebound that led to a second-chance bucket by Hays. Moments later she drilled an NBA-range 3 to give the Warriors a 47-44 lead with 3:01 left.

From there, Wasilla (16-5) missed three of four free throws, a layup and a jumper to let the lead slip away.

Colony (22-2) built an early 19-11 lead on the shoulders of sophomore Morgan Ainsworth. She had eight quick points on runners and jumpers.

Colony’s Hallie Clark lets one fly. Photo by Bruce Eggleston/MatSu Sports

Clark finally got cooking in the second half and pumped in 10 points in the third quarter alone. She buried 3s to give the Knights leads of 30-29 and 39-38. The second trey came on an assist from Wuestenberg, who was falling out of bounds when she passed the ball to Clark, who just beat the third-quarter horn with the shot.

Even without Anderson, Wasilla’s guard play was solid behind Mielee-Mylz Merchant, Savannah Kroon, Livia Breshears and Kyndra Boling.

In the third quarter, Boling hit a jumper and moments later saved the ball from going out of bounds by firing a pass to Kroon, who made a touch pass to Breshears for a corner 3 and a 25-23 lead. Later, Kroon hit two free throws, a jumper and a 3 on an assist from Merchant to put Wasilla ahead 36-34.

The game featured 11 lead changes, with Shelley’s 3 late in the fourth quarter being the final one to push Colony’s winning streak to 13 games.

COLONY (50) – Clark 11, Ainsworth 10, Shelley 11, Wuestenberg 9, Karpow 7, Waggoner 2.
WASILLA (48) – Merchant 2, Kroon 14, Hays 19, Anderson 4, Breshears 3, Boling 2, Jackson 4.
Colony 14 5 20 11 – 50
Wasilla 11 9 18 10 – 48

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