A short but not so sweet halftime talk from coach Ryan Hales spurred Chugiak's girls basketball team to a third consecutive Cook Inlet Conference win on Jan. 18 at home over Service.
"I came out with a broken clipboard if that's any indication," Hales said.
Chugiak's Madison McAleavey launches a 3-pointer while teammate Tracie Haken battles for position inside during the second half of the Mustangs' 46-39 win over Service on Jan. 18. McAleavey's jumper gave the Mustangs a 31-28 lead, and they never trailed again, improving to 3-1 in the Cook Inlet Conference.
Star photo by Matt Tunseth
After watching his team struggle with poor shooting and rampant turnovers in the opening half against the Cougars, Hales said all he told his team was to go back out on the floor and play hard-nosed defense.
"It was very short and precise," he said.
Hales' words did the trick, as Chugiak overcame a five-point halftime deficit to take a 46-39 victory.
Erinn Scotland had 15 points and six rebounds to lead Chugiak, while Jessica Tramp added nine points, 11 boards and five steals.
Hales was particularly frustrated with his team's inability to handle the ball. Chugiak had 32 turnovers in the contest 16 in each half and Hales said he squad must get better if it wants to compete with the top teams in the CIC.
"We still have not put four quarters together," he said.
Service ended a tight first half on a 7-1 run to take a 27-22 lead into the break. Chugiak might have been in an even deeper hole if it wasn't for the play of Scotland, a junior guard who came off the bench to score 11 points in the half.
"Erinn stepped up big time tonight," Hales said.
The difference in the third quarter was defense. Chugiak held Service to just one field goal in the frame as the Mustangs put together a 13-3 run to take a 35-30 lead into the fourth.
Chugiak also began to heat up from the floor in the second half. After shooting just 24 percent in the first, the Mustangs made half their shots in the third and nailed both 3-point attempts, including a big bomb from sophomore Madison McAleavey that put Chugiak up 31-28.
The Mustangs never trailed again, holding Service to just 17 percent shooting in the half while making 45 percent of their own tries from the field.
Tracie Haken scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds for Chugiak, which also got five points each from Mollie Matthis and Kelsey Heller, three from McAleavey and one from Mackenie Matthis.
The win was impressive in that the Mustangs had to do it without a pair of key players Jessi McMullen and Kendra Zeller who are both battling injuries. Things got worse in the second half when Mollie Matthis went down with a bruised chest.
"We are very injured right now," Hales said. "We're not at our full potential right now, but for what we have we did alright."
Chugiak improved to 3-4 overall and 3-1 in the CIC.
The limping Mustangs are in for their biggest challenge of the young season beginning Feb. 2, when they'll travel to Anchorage for the 16-team Dimond Lady Lynx Shootout, one of the premier in-season girls' tournaments of the season.
Winless Wolves' woes continue
Eagle River fell to 0-11 on the season with a pair of losses to South and Houston.
On Jan. 18, South got scoring from every player in its lineup to take a 54-23 CIC win over visiting Eagle River. Juile Stark had 12 points to pace the Wolverines.
Dana Panfil had nine points to lead Eagle River, which dropped to 0-4 in the CIC.
Though their season has been a tough one, the Wolves found a reason for optimism against Houston, outscoring the nonconference Hawks 23-12 in the second half of Houston's 35-28 win.
"I told the girls that if we'd played the first half like we did the second we'd have won this game by 10 points," said coach Terra Bingham.
Freshman Sam Coy poured in nine of her team-high 13 points in the second half for the Wolves, who trailed 23-5 at halftime. Panfil added 11 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter, while Danielle Trubiano scored four.
Free throws were a big factor in the game. Eagle River went just 2-for-13 from the line while Houston made eight of its 13 attempts.
Bingham said she's not worried about her team's disappointing record.
Instead, she's focusing on getting her young team to play all four quarters with intensity something that showed in the team's comeback bid against Houston.
"We go hard all the way to the end," she said.
Although the wins haven't come yet, Bingham said she does believe her team is making strides in the right direction.