The Wolves picked up their first win of the season on Jan. 28 at home against Thunder Mountain, thanks in part to the return of Nate Yaw, who along with fellow senior captains Kyle Taylor and Dominic Young combined to score 57 points in the team's 70-61 win.
Eagle River forward Nate Yaw gets past Thunder Mountain's Matt Seymour for two points as teammate Clarence Summers looks on during the Wolves' 70-61 win over the Falcons on Jan. 28 at Eagle River. Yaw, a senior and four-year starter, scored 18 points in his first game back from knee surgery.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH
"It took a while for the team to get the unity together, but we've got it now and it feels real good," said Young, who scored a game-high 21 points and hauled down 15 rebounds.
Yaw missed the first seven games all losses as the Wolves struggled to find their rhythm without the four-year starter.
"He's a big guy that can get in and out of tight spaces," said Taylor, who nailed five 3-pointers, including four in the second half. "Then he can kick it out at any time."
Yaw had surgery on his right knee about two months ago, and said he's still only about 75 percent recovered. But after posting 18 points and 10 boards in his season debut, he already appeared in mid-season form against the Falcons.
"I'm getting there," he said.
Things weren't so rosy early on against Thunder Mountain. Eagle River looked sluggish in the first half, shooting just 22 percent from the field and trailing 32-19 at halftime. Wolves coach Craig Harrison said he felt like his team was too excited against the Falcons in the early going, leaping at ball fakes and allowing the Falcons to get easy buckets.
"We were jumping like kangaroos," he said.
The second half was all Wolves. Young got the team fired up right off the bat with a big three-point play, and Yaw followed by scoring six points in 90 seconds, forcing Thunder Mountain to call timeout in the face of the renewed Wolves attack.
Young said Harrison's halftime pep talk helped to calm the team's nerves and put the game in perspective.
"Coach told us if we don't play, it's going to be another loss," he said.
The Thunder Mountain timeout did little to stem the Eagle River charge, as the Wolves capped a 22-12 quarter on an 8-0 run that was finished off in style with a deep Taylor trey.
The Wolves continued their surge into the fourth, taking their first lead of the game at the 6:25 mark on a tip-in by Young. Taylor then knocked down two more triples in the next three minutes.
Thunder Mountain put together an 8-3 run late in the quarter to cut the lead to 64-61, but a crucial steal by Steven Carlos with under 30 seconds left led to a fast-break basket by Yaw that provided the insurance the Wolves needed.
While the team's top three scorers did most of the offensive damage, Harrison was quick to point out the defensive work put in by the Wolves' supporting cast of Carlos, Kelechi Madubuko Colton Palmer, Trevone Johnson and Branden Viotto.
"With an effort like that, if we get those consistently we're going to be a hard out," Harrison said.
Carlos, Madubuko and Viotto each added three points, while Palmer and Johnson had two.
Getting the first win of the season was a big weight off the team's shoulders, Young said.
"It's a relief," he said.
But the Wolves aren't going to be satisfied with a lone win, and Yaw said he thinks the now-complete team is ready to compete in the Cook Inlet Conference.
"I think we can win a lot more, we've just gotta be able to play hard and we've gotta want it," he said.
Contact Matt Tunseth at firstname.lastname@example.org or 694-2727.
WOLVES 70, FALCONS 61
Eagle River 10 9 22 29 70
Thunder Mountain 14 18 12 17 61
Eagle River (70) Madubuko 0 3-4 3, Viotto 1 0-0 3, Carlos 1 1-2 3, Yaw 6 6-10 18, Young 7 7-11 21, Taylor 6 1-2 18, Johnson 1 0-0 2, Palmer 1 0-0 2. Totals 23 18-29 70.
Thunder Mountain (61) Hinsworth 2 1-2 5, Tupau 2 0-0 6, Seymour 1 4-4 7, Lanz 1 0-0 2, Grussendorf 0 1-2 1, Jones 4 1-2 9, Tupon 1 3-4 6, B. John 4 3-5 11, S. John 6 4-4 14. Totals 21 15-23 61
Three-point goals Eagle River 6 (Taylor 5, Viotto), Thunder Mountain 4 (Tupau 2, Seymour, Tupon). Total fouls Eagle River 23, Thunder Mountain 22. Fouled out none.
This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, February 3, 2011.