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West Valley basketball sweeps Lathrop in matchup between crosstown rivals

Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 7:48 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In a rivalry as old as, well, not as old as time, but still pretty old, the West Valley Wolfpack and the Lathrop Malemutes battled on the hardwood in a Mid Alaska Conference doubleheader Thursday.

Lathrop, looking to avenge their loss to West Valley at the Mt. McKinley Bank Holiday Classic last weekend, came out with no shortage of energy in the rematch. It was tight throughout the first two quarters, with the crosstown rivals trading buckets, neither able to grab hold of the momentum. Lathrop received a boost heading into halftime when Jaylen Thomas nailed a buzzer beating three-pointer that gave the Malemutes a 37-33 advantage after 16 minutes of play.

Sometimes, it just comes down to midgame adjustments. West Valley coach Colton Growden kept his team in the locker room for nearly the entire break, hammering home the necessary adjustments to take control of the contest.

What was said at the half seemed to have resonated with the Wolfpack, as the Red and Gold held the ‘Mutes to just four points in the third quarter and only seven in the fourth, which was enough for them to bust the game open and walk away with a 71-48 conference victory over their biggest rival.

“Going into halftime, coach got on us,” said senior leader Cortarius Mingo. “He was telling us get our energy up, get back on defense, move our feet, lock down our man and we executed that in the second half and that’s what led to the dub [win].”

Junior guard Tyriq Luke dropped 24 points against Lathrop, his former school, helping the Wolfpack outscore the Malemutes 38-11 in the second half.

“We had to pick up our intensity and we had to play better defense in the second half,” Luke added to what was mention at halftime. “It is a really big win, it feels good for sure.”

Senior big man Judah Ward scored 15 points and collected eight rebounds, while sophomore Stewart Erhart added 13 in the win.

“Every day, every game, every practice, there is improvement,” Mingo said. “We are always looking to moving forward, never taking a step back and so far so good, we have done that every game.”

Lathrop was paced by Thomas’ 13 points, while senior Ben Kraska chipped in seven points and six boards in defeat.

West Valley Girls Remain Undefeated

The girl’s matchup tipped-off next and it was a similar storyline, as Lathrop was looking to bounce back from their loss to West Valley at the Holiday Classic as well. When facing Lathrop’s sophomore standout TT Tagovailoa, it is hard to stop her, so you have to only hope to contain her. The Wolfpack did *just* enough of that to come away with a 46-41 conference win over their crosstown foes. Senior Rachel Cockman’s post game was too strong for the Malemutes, scoring eight baskets en route to a 21-point performance. Cockman, a recent Western Colorado University signee, touched on how the squad was able to pick up the bigtime ‘W’.

“It just took a lot of defense and the passing has been so much better than it was last year and just us working together, it is really coming together right now,” Cockman said after the victory. “I mean, it is such blessing to be out here on the court in the first place, so just playing each and every game like it’s our last, because it really could be.”

Tagavoila had 17 points, while Tristian Martin produced 13 in the loss. Ali May, West Valley’s point guard, contributed 12 points in the win.

“She is my best friend, we train together every day and it such a blessing to be out here with her.” Cockman said of her fellow senior May.

Both Lathrop programs will visit North Pole on Tuesday to continue MAC action, while West Valley takes on Eielson the same day.

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