Birchwood Bowl Debacle

The Chugiak and Eagle River rivalry is alive and strong.  Unfortunately for the Eagle River Wolves, that means the Birchwood Bowl trophy stays in the Mustangs hands for another year.  This game was anticipated to be a huge win for the Wolves, who were 5 and 5 going into the game against a Mustang team that was winless in the CIC this year.

In the first meeting of the two teams at Eagle River, the Wolves demolished the Mustangs.  So the table was set for the Wolves.  This should have been a cake walk.  All the Eagle River fans were salivating for a win, which would put the Wolves above .500 and in one of their best ever positions going into the CIC tournament.

Junior Hunter Hill grabs a rebound in the loss to Chugiak

Junior Hunter Hill grabs a rebound in the loss to Chugiak

The pre game started and was really overboard for a winless team.  The lights went out, the music came on, spotlight sweeping the gym, and the Mustangs took the floor.  I personally felt that instead of focusing on a cool introduction, the team should focus on Basketball.  In my opinion, it was a joke.  Unfortunately, the Eagle River players did not take the Mustangs seriously.

The game started, and Eagle River jumped out to a comfortable lead, but Chugiak hung in there.  Senior center for Eagle River went baseline and elevated for a dunk.  This could have demolished the Mustangs, and pushed the Wolves into a win, but Waterman did not throw down a thundering dunk.  He just kind of played it safe and wanted to make sure the ball went into the hoop.  I remember rivalry games and as much as coaches do not like a missed gimme shot, if you do not go big, you are not going to get the crowd into it.

Junior Shaquan Rhoades heads to the hoop for a lay up

Junior Shaquan Rhoades heads to the hoop for a lay up

The game remained close going into half time with Eagle River in the lead.  I had two concerns.  In close games, I have observed the Wolves do two things, they can give up a lot of points in the 3rd quarter and then rely on attempting a bunch of three point shots in the 4th quarter to try to regain the lead.

Senior Kevin Waterman heads to the rim for a dunk against Chugiak

Senior Kevin Waterman heads to the rim for a dunk against Chugiak

The third period started and there was a big problem.  Senior Chris Parker was sitting on the bench.  It is unclear why, and I did not even ask the question why.  But having him sit on the sidelines took Eagle River out of the game.  Do not get me wrong, this is one of the first Wolves team that has talent everywhere you look.  Having both Waterman, and Junior Hunter Hill backing each other up, and guards like Parker, Junior Shaquan Rhoades, Sophomore Thomas Jones, Senior Forward Kelechi Madubuko and Freshman Chaz Jenkins, and a variety of other impact players on the bench, they have a very good squad, but when you take Parker out of the equation, it sucks the life out of the team.  And that is what it was doing in the Chugiak game.

Senior Chris Parker hangs in the air against Chugiak

Senior Chris Parker hangs in the air against Chugiak

Parker finally came off the bench in the fourth, and was able to bring some life back into the Wolves.  With the game tied late in the 4th quarter there was hope that the Wolves would pull it off, but it was not going to happen.  Down by 1 point with seconds left, Rhoades drove into the lane, hacked, bumped, grabbed, he somehow was able to get a shot off, but it would not fall.  And to top it off, the officials did not call any of the numerous fouls the were going on right in front of them.  It was obvious from the calls in the first game of the night, these officials wanted to get all three games done as quick as possible and go home.  Obvious traveling violations, blatant hacking, grabbing, and three second calls were not being called.  Even inbounding the ball with a foot on the line was overlooked.

Junior Shaquan Rhoades attempts a layup through traffic

Junior Shaquan Rhoades attempts a layup through traffic

So, the Birchwood Bowl stays at Chugiak for another year.

On another note, even though the Eagle River girls fell to Chugiak in the game before the Boys varsity game, they played a great game.  The first quarter got away from Eagle River, but that was because the coach sat players for disciplinary reasons, and Chugiak jumped out to a large lead, but with players back on the floor for the rest of the game, Eagle River held Chugiak to 17 points over three quarters.  It was disappointing to see them give up a potential win over discipline.

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