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Monroe Boys head back to state tournament for 10th consecutive year

Published: Mar. 13, 2021 at 6:24 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Although they make it look easy, appearing in their 10th straight Alaska High School Basketball Class 3A State Tournament, Monroe Catholic Head Coach Frank Ostanik reminds his team what it takes to get to where they are today.

“We try to get them to understand that this is never easy, I know how hard these things are to win.” Ostanik said. “Just trying to get them to understand how blessed they are and how fortunate they are and to grow from that experience is a big part of it for us.”

The Rams returned their trio of 2020 Aurora All-Conference members this year in Quinn McHenry, Malachi Bradley and Jase McCullough. However, Monroe has been playing down one member, as McCullough continues to recover from a calf injury.

In the Aurora Conference Championship game Friday, it was the other All-Conference members stepping up, with McHenry and Bradley combining for 41 points in a 56-35 win over the Valdez Buccaneers. The two scored all 11 of Monroe’s points in the opening quarter and continued build on it throughout the contest. McHenry, the senior headed to Sonoma State University next year, dropped 18 points, while Bradley, the standout sophomore, bullied his way to a game-high 23 points.

This very tournament, as well as the state tournament, was canceled just days prior to tip-off last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and these players have been eyeing this moment ever since.

“It means everything,” McHenry said after the championship win. “We just got to cash in on all the work and stuff that we missed out on last year so it definitely feels good to prove to everybody and to ourselves we could do it.”

After a tightly contested first quarter, the Rams opened up the game with a 17-7 second quarter, which was enough to launch them to the state tournament for the 10th consecutive year possible.

While it was the expected leaders taking control of the game, it is the entire roster that has helped the Rams become Aurora Conference champions.

“I applaud our guys one through 13, I’m very lucky to be able to work with a group that cares as much as they do,” Ostanik said of his team. “The results as what you see in games is a lot of times due to the eight, ninth, 10th guy on down and so I’m very grateful to those guys for sure.”

Monroe will head into the State Tournament as the number one seed out of the Aurora Conference. The State Tournament is scheduled for March 25-27 at various schools in the Mat-Su Valley.

Two teams make it to state out of the Aurora Conference. On Saturday, the Buccaneers defeated the Delta Huskies 61-46 to punch their tickets to the state tournament.

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