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HomeSportPrep Hoops: East boys unanimous No. 1, MCCA strengthens grip as top-ranked...

Prep Hoops: East boys unanimous No. 1, MCCA strengthens grip as top-ranked girls squad in ASR/Class 4A Coaches Poll

Mountain City Christian’s Lukas Underhile boxes out East’s Akeem Sulaiman. Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

Alaska Class 4A boys basketball coaches are in agreement East is the best team, but East coach Chuck Martin hopes to convince his players that whoever the T-birds take on is the best team.

“It’s still early,” Martin said.

In other words, rankings don’t guarantee success so don’t get cocky.

With the postseason on the horizon, Martin wants the T-birds to buckle up for the stretch run, but ironically, they’ve been the ones who’ve taken the rest of the state on a ride this season.

The defending state champions are 19-1 and have won 10 in a row. They’ve also won 21 straight against Alaska competition dating back to last year’s Cook Inlet Conference Championships.

“East continues to play well and consistently against top conference opponents,” said Dimond coach Krehg Perez. “They are the only undefeated high school program in Alaska.”

East received all 14 first-place votes in the Alaska Sports Report/Class 4A Basketball Coaches Poll to earn its second straight unanimous No. 1 ranking.

Alaska Sports Report/Class 4A Boys Coaches Poll

RANK TEAM POINTS
1 East Anchorage (19-1) 70
2 West Valley (14-3) 46
3 West Anchorage (13-6) 41
4 Service (15-7) 36
5 Monroe Catholic (14-5) 8

ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: Colony 4; Thunder Mountain 2; Juneau-Douglas 2; Bartlett 2; Dimond 1.

The T-birds looked the part last week, going 3-0 with wins over West, Soldotna and South by an average of 29 points.

“East Anchorage continues to dominate the competition,” said Service coach Jocquis Sconiers.

The poll’s top spot didn’t change, but much of the top 5 did as West Valley moved up two spots to No. 2, West Anchorage moved up a spot to No. 3 and Service dropped two spots to No. 4. Monroe Catholic stayed at No. 5.

Coaches ranked teams on several factors, they said, including head-to-head competition, road wins and strength of schedule.

Mountain City Christian Academy coach Brad Lauwers has his own method. You’ve heard of the WPI, well he uses the PPI.

“The Personal Power Index,” Lauwers quipped.

The CIC features three ranked teams while another two teams also received votes. East sits atop the standings at 10-0 while the next four teams are separated by a single game, meaning one loss could be the difference between second and fifth.

“The CIC is a blood bath every night,” Sconiers said.

Monroe Catholic’s William Bast rises up for a jumper. Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

West beat Service 63-58 in OT last week to take sole possession of second in the CIC at 7-3, one game ahead of Service, Dimond and Bartlett.

West (13-6) has gone to OT against No. 4 Service, No. 1 East and No. 2 West Valley this season.

Bartlett coach Steve Drussell believes the CIC is the state’s toughest conference and pointed to his team as an example. The Golden Bears are 10-9 overall, with two losses against ranked teams in the CIC and three against Lower 48 competition.

“If we wanted to base (the poll) on overall records, 4A schools should schedule more 1A and 2A games – which some programs do – and others try to schedule the toughest schedule possible to prepare them for their conference play,” he said. “Difference philosophies.”

Second-ranked West Valley (14-3) beat No. 5 Monroe Catholic 53-25 in its only game of the week.

“They are really long,” West coach Josh Muehlenkamp said of the Wolfpack. “They defend well and control the pace of the game. They use their size to their advantage and are going to be a hard matchup for anybody.”

The Wolfpack are 6-2 in their last eight games, with one of those losses coming to Monroe a week earlier in the Mid-Alaska Conference clash.

The Rams (14-5) splitting with West Valley went a long way with Perez.

“That shows they can be a contender against teams that have been successful against the other top teams in the state,” he said. “Top teams seem to be evenly matched this year, showing anyone can win on any given night.”

Alaska Sports Report/Class 4A Girls Coaches Poll

RANK TEAM POINTS
1 MCCA (16-1) 63
2 Colony (20-2) 51
3 Wasilla (13-4) 42
4 Dimond (17-5) 19
5 Thunder Mountain (15-3) 17

ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: Bartlett 3; West Valley 2; Service 2.

On the girls side, Mountain City Chrisian garnered 11 of 13 first-place votes to take the No. 1 ranking with 63 points, a dozen more than No. 2 Colony. That differential was nine points a week ago.

Third-ranked Wasilla got the other two first-place votes as the top three teams in the poll stayed the same. The only change saw Dimond and Thunder Mountain flip.

When you look at the poll and see three Northern Lights Conference teams sitting 1-2-3, you gotta give the league its flowers as the best in the state. And it’s not that close.

“All of them have the potential to look like the best team in the state on any given night,” said Bartlett coach Darian Lawson. “It is really difficult to say who is the top team between those three teams.”

Mountain City Christian’s Morgan Maldonado drives on West’s Tonya Karpow. Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

Colony lost to MCCA but beat Wasilla, which knocked off MCCA. Oh, the conference tournament is going to be lit.

Right now, though, Colony coach Chandice Cronk sees the two-time defending 4A state champion MCCA Lions as the team to beat.

“I have picked MCCA first because at the end of the day they have beaten us twice,” she said. “They are a legit team with lots of threats. We are constantly preparing in practice and games for our next matchup with them.”

MCCA (16-1) has rattled off six consecutive wins after suffering a loss to Wasilla last month that snapped a six-year winning streak against in-state competition.

That impressed Service coach Harvey Watson.

“Mountain City earned my first-place vote due to their bounce back,” he said. “Winning the Grace tournament and winning their conference games.”

South coach Larry Wilson agreed but added the Knights to the mix.

“MCCA has been consistent and tough to beat in the toughest conference in Alaska,” he said. “Colony can claim the same.”

The Knights (20-2) proved that last weekend after sweeping one-loss Thunder Mountain in a two-game series to push their winning streak to 11 games.

Colony coach Chandice Cronk talks with her team. Photo by Bryan Boyett/Alaska Sports Report

Wasilla (13-4) swept Kodiak on ‘The Rock’ to move to 10-1 in its last 11 games.

Meanwhile, Dimond (17-5) has won five straight and sits atop the CIC standings by a half-game over Bartlett, which lost 55-29 to the Lynx last week.

“Dimond is a team to look out for,” Cronk said.

Don’t sleep on Thunder Mountain, Wilson said. The Falcons from the capital city have 6-foot twins who are being recruited by UAA.

“Thunder Mountain has a solid core and could beat anyone any day,” Wilson said.

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