By Van Williams
Classic Media Director
The West Anchorage Eagles made it rain against the Ronan Chiefs of Montana in the first boys game of this year’s Alaska Airlines Classic, draining a dozen 3-pointers to propel a 65-45 victory at West High.
This was the first time West had knocked off a Lower 48 team in the tournament since 2018, when the Eagles beat Planet Athlete of Arizona 74-70 in coach Josh Muehlenkamp’s second season.
Boub Marial and Duey Cook each reached double figures and the Eagles shot the lights out from downtown, drilling 12-of-26 shots from 3-point land.
Marial scored 12 of West’s first 33 points to lead an early game surge that set the tone for the rest of the way. He finished with 14 points.
Cook chipped in 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including a 3-pointer to beat the second-quarter buzzer and send the Eagles into halftime with a commanding 38-22 advantage.
West’s Willie Zamora scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting from deep. Zamora, Aarion Alexander, Dean Laxa and Marial helped the Eagles drop in five 3s in the first quarter, much to the delight of the ‘Student Body Game’ crowd as the game was played in front of West’s entire 1,800 enrollment.
It was a scene. The band was on hand, along with about 30 cheerleaders. At halftime, there were performances by a cheer team, a school dance team and a two-man JROTC precision drill team.
West’s 6-foot-4 Mat Choul gave the home fans something to cheer about after he threw down a one-handed jam early in the third quarter as West’s lead had swelled to 45-24.
Ronan wasn’t overmatched so much as overwhelmed as the players made several silly turnovers and missed shots you know they normally make. The Classic is a big stage, and the jitters were there. But so were the effort and energy.
The Chiefs outrebounded the West 34-19, including an 11-3 advantage on offensive boards. Marlo Tonasket Jr. bagged nine points and eight rebounds and Josiah Misa grabbed seven boards.
Laurance Lozeau led Ronan with 15 points thanks in part to 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point land. Lozeau knocked down two triples in the first quarter, with the second one pulling Ronan within 23-12. But that was as close as the Chiefs got as West put its foot down, building the lead to as many as 26 points.
Both teams will be in action again on Friday. West advanced to the late semifinal against the Grace Christian/Metlakatla winner while Ronan will face the loser in the early consolation game.
Ronan 14 8 9 14 – 45
West 26 12 14 13 – 65
RONAN – Zepeda 3, Edmo 0, Lozeau 15, McCrea Jr. 2, Qualtier 0, Small 0, Pretty On Top 0, Finley 0, Misa 5, Coffman III 8, Gatch 3, Curley 0, Tonasket Jr. 9.
WEST – Alexander 6, Mikes 2, Cook 11, Zamora 9, Fritz 1, Laxa 6, Adlawan 2, Choul 7, Marial 14, Moun 4, Bithow 3, Falealo 0.