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Prep Hoops: New name, new coach, same Lions, who extend win streak; Wednesday Bithow leads West over Tikigaq at Alaska Airlines Classic

Mountain City Christian Nyami Mathot goes in for a layup. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

New name, new coach. Same girls basketball dynasty.

Mountain City Christian is no longer called ACS, but the school still goes by the Lions and there was a lot of resemblance to the team that has run roughshod over Alaska competition for the last six years.

MCC took control with a 17-2 run in the third quarter Tuesday against Grace Christian to win 54-44 in a battle of unbeatens in the first round of the Alaska Airlines Classic girls tournament at West High.

Keelie Kronberger pumped in 16 points, Morgan Maldonado added 13 points and Nyami Mathot collected nine points and six rebounds. Those three players combined to score 15 of the final 17 points for the Lions, who are now coached by Alexia Norvelli after she took over for Chad Dyson.

With the win, MCC (4-0) extended its record winning streak against in-state competition to 127 games. Grace didn’t make it easy, forcing the Lions to roar back from a five-point halftime deficit.

Sophia Lentfer furnished 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Grizzlies (9-1).

Not only were the teams undefeated coming into the game, but MCC is the defending ASAA Class 4A state champion and Grace the defending ASAA Class 3A state champion.

Mountain City Christian coach Alexia Norvelli watches her team at the Alaska Airlines Classic. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

You couldn’t ask for a better tournament opener.

Lentfer and Ella Boerger (11 points) combined for eight points in the first quarter as Grace built a 14-9 lead.

Maliyah Alex, a key holdover from last season’s squad, knocked down a 3-pointer to put MCC in front 15-14 before Grace responded with a 10-4 run keyed by 3s from MJ Van der Horst and Molly Schild to help the Grizzlies take a 24-19 advantage into halftime.

The second half was all MCC.

Kronberger scored on a drive and then hit a 3 to give the Lions the lead for good at 27-24. They scored the first 17 points of the quarter before Lentfer scored on an offensive rebound right before the horn to snap the team’s nearly eight-minute scoreless streak.

Grace Christian’s Sophie Lentfer drives to the basket. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

Lentfer kept it going in the fourth quarter when she scored seven points during a 10-6 spurt, capped by a three-point play on an up-and-under post move that pulled Grace as close as 42-36.

The Lions sealed the deal behind 6-of-7 free throw shooting down the stretch, with Maldonado making five of them.

Grace Christian 14 10 2 18 – 44
Mountain City Christian 9 10 17 18 – 54

GRACE – Wiggers-Pidduck 3, Jackson 0, Schild 3, Boerger 11, Van der Horst 3, Jones 5, Lentfer 19.
MCC – Maldonado 13, Nyaw.Majoik 2, Mathot 9, Alex 5, Kronberger 16, Nyat.Majoik 3, Scheaffer 6.

West Anchorage 58, Tikigaq 37

Wednesday Bithow made a dynamic debut in the Alaska Airlines Classic.

The star freshman for West Anchorage poured in 18 points and blocked two shots to lead three players in double figures in a 58-37 win over Tikigaq of Point Hope.

Bithow canned 7-of-10 shots, including both 3-pointers. Re’Zhanai Wyche and Ariel Misa each chipped in 10 points for the Eagles, the two-time defending Cook Inlet Conference champions.

West’s Wednesday Bithow rises up. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

Bithow bagged nine of her team’s first 18 points to get the party started. She hit a 3, ran the court and was tough to stop.

The 5-foot-6 guard exceeded double digits after converting a pretty scoop shot to put West ahead 22-5.

Misa showed off a smooth jumper, hitting a nice turnaround before draining a 3 at the end of the first half as the Eagles (2-2) took a 34-12 lead into halftime.

Bithow’s second 3 of the night gave West a 51-27 lead.

Tikigaq got going in the second half behind reigning Class 2 Player of the Year Jennifer Nash. The point guard wiz racked up 15 points and five assists. Last year she had a game with nine assists.

Haley Nashookpuk added nine points and seven rebounds while Ella Kowunna added seven points for Tikigaq (3-4).

Nash scored the game’s most memorable bucket in the fourth quarter after dribbling between her legs and drilling a step-back 3. Moments later she drained another 3 from the wing.

Unfortunately for the Harpoonerettes, by the time she got cooking the game was toast.

Tikigaq 4 8 15 10 – 37
West Anchorage 18 16 17 7 – 58

TIKIGAQ – E.Kowunna 7, Nash 15, Hunnicutt 0, Rock 0, T.Nashookpuk 6, H. Nashookpuk 9, J.Kowunna 0, Frankson 0.
WEST – Bithow 18, Wyche 10, Witwer 0, Queen 8, Galang 0, Harris 2, Sallah 0, Misa 10, Timberlake 4, Tauali 6.

Tikigaq’s Jennifer Nash with a scoop shot. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

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