Lathrop Boys, Girls advance to MAC Finals
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Two tickets to the Class 4A State Basketball Tournament are available out of the Mid Alaska Conference between the boys and girls brackets. Wednesday night, Lathrop and North Pole squared off to see who would face West Valley in Thursday’s MAC Championship for a spot at state.
Lathrop Girls Prevail
Back to full strength as a program, the Lathrop Malemutes turned defense into offense throughout the four quarters on their way to a 70-21 win over the Patriots in the MAC semifinals. Sophomore TT Tagovailoa, who has missed some games this year, led all scorers with 16 points, 10 rebounds, a ton of steals and her share of dimes en route to victory. Torrin Johnson-Oats and Jayda George provided double-digit performances, while senior Tristian Martin added nine points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. While this team has no shortage of talent, it is their chemistry that often propels them to victory.
“First of all, when they get along it is always a good thing,” said head coach Dave Stewart after the win. “They like playing together, they swing [the ball around], they work with each other, you see them communicating, they’re teaching each other. My older girls are teaching the young ones and telling them in a nice way where to be and when to be there and that is working pretty well for us.”
The Malemutes will face the West Valley Wolfpack at 6 p.m. Thursday with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the State Tournament.
The loss marks the end of North Pole’s season. Leading scorer Alicia Guzman shared what the coach’s message was after the game and the community’s support throughout an uncertain season.
“He mentioned how good we did, that is the best we have ever played against Lathrop and that we are going to get them next year,” the sophomore said. “I am very thankful for them and everything they do; pictures and congratulating us on games, they’re very nice.”
Lathrop Boys Advance
The Malemutes didn’t allow the Patriots to hang around very long on Wednesday, jumping out to a 30-point lead by halftime on their way to a 66-23 win. Starter Earl Parker rested an injury for most of the contest, but his teammates had his back. Senior Pukah Tagovailoa led the way offensively with 15 points, while fellow senior Ben Kraska added 12 and gave his teammates plenty of open looks with timely passes.
“I am unbelievably proud of my guys, I mean we have all worked hard to get here, there is no reason to stop.” said Kraska after the victory.
“I like how everybody works together, encourages each other, [it] reminds us to work hard no matter what.” added junior Jaylen Thomas.
A classic cross-town rivalry: West Valley and Lathrop at 7:30 p.m. for the MAC Championship. The last time these two teams faced, Lathrop bested West Valley 62-59 March 9.
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