Eagle River's Sam Coy tries to drive past Dimond's Kelsey Anderson during the Wolves' opening-round loss at the Cook Inlet Conference tournament on March 2 at Dimond High. The loss ended Eagle River's season.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH
Eagle River seniors Nicole Carroll and Cassie Barsalou never won a varsity basketball game for the Lady Wolves, but they're anything but losers.
"Those two are great kids," said Wolves coach Terra Bingham after Carroll and Barsalou suited up for the last time in the team's 88-9 loss to Dimond in the opening round of the Cook Inlet Conference tournament at West High on March 2.
Both girls said they plan to go to college in Alaska next fall. Barsalou wants to study engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, while Carroll plans to study criminal justice at UAA.
Barsalou said she's not sure what kind of engineering she wants to do yet.
"It's kind of how my brain works," she said. "I'm dyslexic, so I can see things in ways other people can't see."
Carroll said she wants to be a police officer, and has her sights set high.
"I want to be a homicide detective for the APD," Carroll said.
She's already got plenty of experience with messy outcomes.
Eagle River lost every game it played this season just like last year but Carroll said she has nothing but positive memories of her time in the program and believes the experience will serve to toughen her up in the long run.
"You have to always keep your head up and stay positive," she said.
Eagle River had almost no chance against the top-seeded Lynx in the tournament's opening game. Dimond ran out to a 30-0 first quarter lead and got scoring from 10 different players in the rout. Keiahnna Engle led the onslaught with 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in just 18 minutes of play for Dimond, which also knocked Eagle River out of the tournament in last year's opening round.
Carroll made the game's only 3-pointer to finish with a team-high three points for the Wolves, who also got scoring from Shaniquia Singleton (2), Danielle Crow (2), Dana Panfil (1) and Karolina Williams (1). Barsalou led the Wolves with four rebounds.
Dimond's defense forced 35 Eagle River turnovers and held the Wolves to just nine percent (3-for-33) from the floor.
The Wolves finished 0-22 for the season.
Despite the final loss, both girls said they were sad to take off their uniforms for the final time.
"I'm going to miss everyone," Carroll said.
Barsalou and Carroll were the only seniors for the Wolves at the tournament, and Bingham said she's excited about the group she has coming back next season.
"They just need to have more experience together," she said.
To help get her players in the gym more, Bingham said she's planning a program to reward any player who takes 25,000 shots over the summer.
Neither Barsalou nor Carroll will be taking part in that. They'll be busy getting ready to take their academic games to the next level.
"With both of them I know they're going to go on to do great things," Bingham said.
Bingham said that she hopes that when her two seniors are out designing new buildings or fighting crime they are able to look back on their winless days as Wolves as a positive experience.
"You actually learn more lessons when times are hard, and times were hard," she said. "So I'm hoping that they can take that in life with every trial they have."
Contact Matt Tunseth at firstname.lastname@example.org or 694-2727