Kodiak stymied Monroe’s high-octane offense, but the Rams were able to convert their free throws in the final quarter to fend off the upset-minded Bears, 47-34, in a boys game at the Joe T. Classic Thursday at Lathrop High School in Fairbanks.
“This was about as high caliber a basketball game you can play,” Kodiak coach David Anderson said. “It was just a dog fight for both teams.”
Monroe came into the contest averaging 86.7 points per game and had an average margin of victory of 45 points in its first nine games.
The Bears defense was able to keep the Rams well below their season average, as Kodiak was within six points to begin the fourth quarter. Monroe hit nine of 12 free throws in the final two minutes to grab its 30th consecutive win, a streak that began last season.
“We have been working on our defense all week,” Anderson said. “We weren’t allowing them to fastbreak and get the ball out quick.”
Monroe is the state’s top 3A team in the Alaska Coaches Association rankings and has won the past two state titles in that classification.
The Rams have thumped some of the state’s top 4A squads — Colony, West Anchorage and Thunder Mountain — this season. Eight of Monroe’s 10 victories have come against 4A teams.
Frick, who missed Kodiak’s last two games with a sprained ankle, tallied 11 points. Alec Canete-Hall also had 11 points, while Tyler Canete-Hall had six.
Scooter Bynum led the Rams with a game-high 18 points, while Tyler Wells added 13.
The Bears took an early 7-4 lead behind a Frick 3-pointer and an inside deuce from Tyler Canete-Hall.
Monroe tied the game at nine, then scored the next two baskets to take a six-point lead into the second quarter.
The Rams increased their lead to nine on a Wells long ball midway through the second.
Kodiak answered with a pair of Frick free throws and two points from Alec Canete-Hall to trim the deficit to 21-16.
A 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Monroe an eight-point halftime cushion.
Canete-Hall cut the score to 28-23 with a driving layup near the end of the third, but a Wells trey quickly pushed the lead back to eight.
Kodiak got as close as seven in the fourth and kept the deficit to single figures until the final two minutes of the game.
“We tried to foul them and they made their shots,” Anderson said. “A missed shot on their side and a hit on ours and this one goes down to the wire. We were very tough on them.”
The Bears have lost three straight to even their record at 4-4.
Kodiak, the defending Joe T. Classic winners, plays host Lathrop at 8 p.m. tonight and finishes the tournament Saturday against Juneau at 4:30 p.m.
Lathrop opened the tournament with a 72-53 win over Juneau.
Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at email@example.com.
RAMS 47, BEARS 34
Monroe 9 7 9 9 — 47
Kodiak 15 9 7 16 — 34
Monroe (47) — Burcell 0 0-0 0, McCullough 1 2-4 4, Bynum 7 2-4 18, Steporich 1 0-0 2, Erickson 0 0-0 0, Neville 0 0-0 0, Wells 3 4-4 13, O’Kelly 0 0-0 0, Nickerson 3 4-5. Totals — 15 12-17 47.
Kodiak (34) — Mangalus 0 0-0 0, Frick 3 3-4 11, Alcaide 0 0-0 0, Bezona 1 0-0 2, A. Canete-Hall 5 1-2 11, T. Canete-Hall 3 0 0-0 6, Garcia 2 0-1 4. Totals — 14 3 7 34.
3-point goals: Monroe 5 (Wells 3, Bynum 2), Kodiak 2 (Frick 2). Total fouls: Monroe 12, Kodiak 19. Fouled out — Bezona.