A season of despair came to a sudden end for the Chugiak boys basketball team against Bartlett, which used a 23-3 run at the end of the third quarter to take a 66-53 win in the opening round of the Cook Inlet Conference basketball tournament at West High on March 2.
"It went downhill real fast," said Chugiak coach Orin Wear, who resigned after two years as head coach following the game.
Up until the fateful quarter, the Mustangs had held their own against the eventual tournament champions. After a slow start, Chugiak put together a 12-0 run and went into the locker room down just a single point after back-to-back baskets by senior Colby Mitchell to end the half.
Chugiak actually grabbed the lead early in the third quarter at 35-34, then proceeded to watch as the Golden Bears knocked down shot after shot while they themselves went ice cold.
"I think we just let our guard down a little bit and they capitalized, boom, boom, boom," said senior guard Greg Ghramm, who scored six points, dished seven assists and played all 32 minutes. "It happens that quick in basketball."
Mitchell scored 24 points and had eight rebounds for Chugiak, which also got 13 points from senior guard Dylan Fullmer.
The Mustangs will lose eight seniors to graduation, and Mitchell said the group had much higher expectations for the season than a first-round defeat.
"We definitely expected a lot more," he said.
Trent Anthony scored 17 points to lead Bartlett, which also got 14 from Jal Deng.
Chugiak actually shot a better percentage than Bartlett, but the Mustangs were done in by the details. They were outrebounded 40-26, went just 3-for-10 from the free throw line and were outscored 14-3 off the bench.
Mitchell said the loss was indicative of how the season went for Chugiak, which played everyone tough (the Mustangs beat Bartlett during the regular season and lost to No. 3 seed Dimond in overtime), but rarely found itself on the winning side of the scoreboard.
"Our team just has mental lapses," Mitchell said. "It falls apart for two minutes every game, and that's what decides it."
Chugiak outscored Bartlett 15-9 in the fourth quarter, but by that time the damage was already done.