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Story Last modified at 11:19 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Birchwood Bowl returns to Chugiak
Crowd helps Mustangs build momentum throughout game

BY CONNER CIMMIYOTTI
For the Star

photo:Sports

Chugiak players hold the Birchwood Bowl aloft following their 65-46 win over Eagle River on Feb. 24 at Chugiak.
STAR PHOTO by Matt Tunseth

After a loss to the rival Wolves earlier this season, the Chugiak Mustangs were looking for redemption in the annual Birchwood Bowl battle Feb. 24 at Chugiak High.

They got it.

After four intense periods, the Mustangs came out on top in a 65-46 victory, holding the coveted Birchwood Bowl aloft in a jubilant post-game celebration.

"Everyone was just real excited and focused on winning this game," said Chugiak guard Nic Harris. "We wanted a win badly after losing before to these guys. And it's a big deal to win the Bowl so we're happy."

With a close game at 12-15 in favor of Eagle River at the end of the first period, the Wolves came out with momentum in the second. But after a pair of dunks from Colby Mitchell – the second a surprise alley-oop from Greg Ghramm – the momentum switched to Chugiak.

"That dunk really got us going," said junior center Steven Puterbaugh, who finished with a team-high 15 points.

Senior guard Nic Harris agreed that the team's big second quarter was the difference.

"We put on a big run," he said.

Harris had 13 points, including three 3-pointers. By halftime, the Mustangs had jumped ahead 32-24, sending their home fans into a frenzy. Both teams' cheering sections seemed to be getting into the game, and the teams were feeding off the intensity.

Puterbaugh and Harris combined for 14 points in the third quarter as the Mustangs continued playing off their newfound momentum, increasing their lead to 51-39 heading into the fourth.

Eagle River never threatened late, and the Chugiak crowd counted off the final seconds as the Mustangs cruised to victory.

"The home crowd was behind us the whole time," Puterbaugh said. "They do a lot for us."

Eagle River's Kyle Taylor, who finished with a game-high 22 points, said neither team had trouble getting ready for the big game.

"We came out looking for another win and it's Chugiak, you know," he said. "That alone gets us pumped."

Conner Cimmiyotti is a junior at Chugiak High School.

MUSTANGS 65, WOLVES 46

Feb. 24, Chugiak

Eagle River 15 9 15 7 – 46

Chugiak 12 20 19 14 – 65

Eagle River (46) – Viotto 2 0-0 6, Yaw 3 0-0 6, Young 1 3-9 5, Taylor 7 3-3 22, Palmer 3 1-2 7. Totals 16 7-14 46.

Chugiak (65) – Johnston 2 0-0 4, Fullmer 1 0-0 3, Harris 5 0-0 13, Trull 4 0-0 9, Ghramm 3 1-2 8, Snell 0 0-1 0, Mitchell 5 1-3 11, James 1 0-0 2, Puterbaugh 6 3-3 15. Totals 27 5-9 65.

Three point goals – Eagle River 7 (Taylor 5, Viotto 2), Chugiak 6 (Harris 3, Fullmer, Trull, Ghramm). Total fouls – Eagle River 16, Chugiak 17. Fouled out – none.



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.