Guided by senior night magic, Hutchison sweeps Galena
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - As the high school basketball season winds down, the 2021 graduating class is being recognized by their respective programs. Earlier this week, the Hutchison Hawks sent off their seniors in style with a sweep over the visiting Galena Hawks.
Senior night is often littered with jitters and nerves, as some know it is the last organized basketball game their home court. That rang true for Hutchison, coming slow out of the gates with just 16 first half points to Galena’s 29. Whatever adjustments were made by the players and head coach Bobby Carter at halftime worked, as Hutchison stormed out of the locker rooms with a 21-13 third quarter to get them back in the game. After knocking down clutch shots and coming up with key defensive stops down the stretch, Hutch took down Galena 51-48, sending the seniors off with a victory.
“Honestly like four years with them, we all came up from [junior varsity] to starting varsity, it feels good, it feels good to go through it with them.” said Hutch senior Cormac Kesey.
“[I was] kind of sad it is the last game, and I won’t be here again,” said fellow senior Tavin Kriska. “I am going to miss them.”
“We stick together for four years, we lost a couple of them, but we stuck it through.” added Andre Charlie, one of three seniors celebrated Monday.
Although the night was in honor of the seniors, it was junior Ryan Young leading the comeback charge, scoring 26 of his career-high 36 points in the second half alone to propel Hutch to victory.
“Ryan Young is an animal, he definitely brought us back in that one,” said Kesey, who scored nine points in the win. “It was something else.”
Young wasn’t alone in the Hawks’ comeback efforts, as Kesey’s three-pointer with 2:54 remaining brought Hutchison within two points of Galena. On the ensuing defensive possession, Young blocked a shot that fell into the hands of Kesey, who brought the ball up the other way. Patiently waiting to get an open look, Hutchison swung the ball around the top of the key before it landed right in Young’s shooting pocket, where he drilled a three-pointer from the wing to give the Hawks their first lead since 5-3 early in the first quarter.
On Thursday, the two teams met again, this time with conference tournament implications. In the opening round of the Aurora Conference tournament, Hutchison had a much easier time handling Galena, defeating them 58-35. Evan Moss scored a game-high 19 points, while Young added 16 in victory. Having to play the semifinals the same day, the Valdez Buccaneers bested the Hawks 53-46. Kesey led all scorers with 22 points, while Young had 12. Hutchison will look to fight their way through the consolation bracket for the second berth to the high school state basketball championships at 12:30 p.m. Friday.
The Hutchison girls also celebrated their graduating class, and also did so with a win. Led by 11 points from Paityn Taylor, Hutchison cruised to a 36-12 victory on senior night.
“It meant the world, just the fact that I am able to get my last big hurrah,” said Cora Black of competing in her senior season.
“I tore my ACL second game of last season so this was like my only shot,” said senior Leigha Rosenthal. “It is a pretty huge accomplishment for me, so I don’t know, I feel proud of myself.”
“The team work and the team and everything we got to bond over like basketball and just other things, I am going to miss that.” said Sydney Johnston.
“I honestly wasn’t going to be playing this year because of COVID and my parents encouraged me and I am really glad I did.” said Destiny Felix.
“It was really exciting and relieving because we almost had to cut off volleyball season, which was honestly really disappointing, so I was excited to get to finish my basketball season.” added Sophia Berg, who will be graduating a year early.
In a rematch during the Aurora Conference Tournament opener, Hutchison rallied to a 51-29 win over Galena, with Rosenthal and Keeley Silas scoring 14 points apiece in victory. Hutchison and Valdez tip-off semifinal action at 9:15 p.m. Thursday.
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