Eagle River's Dominic Young drives past West's Myles Snell-Burton during the Eagles' victory in the opening round of the CIC tournament at West High on March 2.
The 2011 prep hoops season came to a bloody, emotional end for Nate Yaw and the Eagle River boys basketball team.
"It was horrible," Yaw said after his team suffered an 83-44 loss to top-seeded West in the opening round of the Cook Inlet Conference tournament at West High.
Yaw was limited to just 13 minutes of action due to a string of misfortunes that began early and lasted right up until the final whistle. He played just 4:13 in the first half after picking up his third foul midway through the first quarter. After returning to the game, he took a hard spill on his backside and missed several minutes with a cut lip.
"I tried to play as hard as I could and do as much as I could while I was out there, but it was tough," said Yaw, who still managed to score a team-high eight points in the loss.
Eagle River senior forward Dominic Young said Yaw's early departure certainly contributed to the 45-16 score at halftime.
"Nate definitely helps out with leadership out there on the floor," Young said. "That definitely took us out of our game a little bit."
Dominique "Choppy" Queen scored all of his game-high 23 points in the opening half for West, which shot 52 percent from the floor and forced 28 Eagle River turnovers.
"Turnovers have been our Achilles heel all season," said Wolves coach Craig Harrison, whose team finished 2-18 for the season.
Eagle River's Colton Palmer does his best to intimidate West's Choppy Queen during West's 83-44 win in the opening round of the CIC tournament on March 2.
Harrison said he was still pleased with the game because of the effort his team gave, with players diving for loose balls, earning battle wounds and hitting the floor until the bitter end.
"It just goes to show you the type of character we had this year," he said.
Young scored eight points and grabbed eight boards for Eagle River, which also got seven points and seven rebounds from senior center Colton Palmer. The Wolves will lose eight seniors to graduation, making the opening-round loss that much tougher to take for the close-knit bunch.
"On and off the court we hung out a lot," Young said. "We're good buddies."
This year's playoff exit was especially difficult for Harrison, who had to watch his first four-year crop of players in their final game under his tutelage.
"I'm a little emotional," he said.
Harrison said he felt especially bad for Yaw, whose season was a lesson in adversity.
"He's had some shining moments, but it's been a struggle for him," Harrison said.
Yaw, Young and guard Kyle Taylor were the team's captains, and the trio had been together since middle school. While all three said they have aspirations to play college ball, Young said the final game in navy and silver stung.
"We grew up together, we've been playing together forever," Yaw said. "So this is just like, no more, high school's over."
But while the good times they shared on the court may have come to an abrupt end, Young said he's not dwelling on the tough loss.
"Basketball isn't any of our lives," he said. "We're still young. Life is a mountain, and we've just got to climb it."
Harrison, likewise, said he's trying to take the loss in stride and is already looking forward to next year's campaign.
"I'm disappointed for these guys but I'm not deterred," he said. "We'll be back."
Taylor said that he has no regrets about his time alongside his Wolves teammates.
"Over the years we've definitely had some good times," he said. "And made some good memories to look back on."
Contact Matt Tunseth at firstname.lastname@example.org or 694-2727
EAGLES 83, WOLVES 44
March 2, West High
Eagle River 9 7 15 13 44
West 27 18 20 18 83
Eagle River (44) Madubuko 1 0-0 3, Viotto 3 0-0 8, Carlos 0 2-3 2, Yaw 4 0-2 8, Young 3 2-7 8, Taylor 2 0-0 5, Johnson 1 0-0 3, Palmer 2 3-4 7. Totals 16 7-16 44.
West (83) Norman 3 4-6 10, Queen 8 2-2 23, Bookert 2 3-4 7, Bowser 2 0-0 4, L. Brown 1 0-0 2, Gaines 2 0-0 4, Snell-Burton 0 1-2 1, Hernandez 2 1-2 5, Sharp 2 0-0 4, K. Brown 7 1-1 17, Nidoy 1 2-2 4, Eisses 1 0-0 2. Totals 31 14-19 83.
3-point goals Eagle River 5 (Viotto 2, Madubuko, Taylor, Johnson), West 7 (Queen 5, K. Brown 2). Total fouls Eagle River 18, West 16. Fouled out none.
This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, March 10, 2011.