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Prep Hoops: East boys, Mountain City Christian girls rank No. 1 in first ASR/Class 4A Coaches Poll

by | Feb 12, 2024 | Basketball, Cover Story, Prep Spotlight

East coach Chuck Martin talks during a timeout. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

The inaugural Alaska Sports Report/Class 4A Basketball Coaches Poll featured a slam dunk, a Big 3 and a double-double.

All the coaches agreed the East boys are the team to beat as the T-birds were the unanimous No. 1 choice among the 16 boys coaches who voted.

It wasn’t so cut and dry on the girls side, though. Mountain City Christian Academy got 10 of the 14 first-place votes while Colony and Wasilla also received top-ranked consideration as the top three teams were separated by 10 points.

Meanwhile, Thunder Mountain was the only school to be ranked in both polls.

East (16-1) ran away in the boys voting with 80 points, a 39-point differential that resembled the team’s 23-point average margin of victory this season.

The defending state champion T-birds lead the Cook Inlet Conference at 8-0 and their lone loss came against nationally ranked St. Joseph (CA) in the Alaska Airlines Classic.

“East is still the top team and their record shows it,” said Juneau-Douglas coach Robert Casperson.

Alaska Sports Report/Class 4A Boys Coaches Poll

1 East Anchorage (16-1) 80
2 Service (13-6) 51
3 West Valley (13-3) 44
4 West Anchorage (12-5) 36
5 Monroe Catholic (13-4) 8
5 Thunder Mountain (13-6) 8

ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: Colony 7; Juneau-Douglas 3; Dimond 2.

First-year MCCA coach Brad Lauwers believes a combination of reasons make the T-birds No. 1.

“Talent, coaching, work ethic and talent,” he said.

The double dose of talent Lauwers refers to is East’s 1-2 punch of all-state standouts Akeem Sulaiman and Muhammed Sabally.

“Their two star players produce night in and night out,” said Service coach Jocquis Sconiers.

Tuesday’s statewide schedule includes several marquee matchups as No. 1 East hosts No. 4 West in Anchorage, No. 3 West Valley travels to No. 5 Monroe Catholic in Fairbanks and No. 5 Thunder Mountain hosts Juneau-Douglas in the capital city.

West Valley’s Emmanuel Bostick (left) and Leyton Nield look for a rebound. Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

“No one is talking about how well Monroe is doing with only five, six guys,” Sconiers said. “They are outsized every game, but they are always in the contest.”

North Pole coach Travis Church is intrigued by the balance in the Southeast and Mid Alaska conferences.

“Top teams in each conference can beat each other on any given night,” he said.

He’s also got his eye on Northern Lights Conference leader Colony (13-3).

“Colony is flying under the radar,” Church said. “Started off slow and have won 10 straight.”

On the girls side, the defending state champion MCCA Lions had their six-year, 134-game winning streak against Alaska competition snapped last month but coaches still view them as the top team.

“Mountain City Christian’s elite shooting and imposing size make them a tough matchup,” said Bartlett coach Darian Lawson.

MCCA (14-1) received a lion’s share of the first-place votes and led the poll with 62 points, nine ahead of No. 2 Colony and 10 in front of No. 3 Wasilla.

Alaska Sports Report/Class 4A Girls Coaches Poll

1 Mountain City Christian (14-1) 62
2 Colony (16-2) 53
3 Wasilla (11-4) 52
4 Thunder Mountain (15-1) 22
5 Dimond (14-5) 11

ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: West Valley 5; Bartlett 4; Juneau-Douglas 2.

MCCA extended its new winning streak to four games after holding off Grace Christian 55-53 over the weekend.

“In my numerous observations of their games this season, their shooting consistency has been nothing short of special,” Lawson said. “Mountain City Christian possesses a rare combination of offensive firepower and defensive tenacity that sets them apart from the rest.”

Colony (16-2) received one first-place vote and edged Wasilla 53-52 in voting a week after beat the Warriors 65-52 on the court.

“I feel that Wasilla and MCCA get all the hype,” Colony coach Chandice Cronk said. “We just beat Wasilla by 13 last week and there wasn’t one thing said in any sort of sports report.”

Mountain City Christian’s Maliyah Alex is a key component to her team’s press defense. to Photo by Stephanie Burgoon/Alaska Sports Report

Lathrop coach Antwuan Cooks has noticed the Knights and voted them No. 1.

“I like their togetherness, their dominance,” the first-year coach said. “That has to be their culture enforced by the coaching staff. Their sportsmanship matches this.”

Wasilla (11-4) received three first-place votes and is the only team from Alaska to knock off Mountain City Christian in six years.

No. 4 Thunder Mountain has won 15 of 16 games and will host two games against No. 2 Colony on Friday and Saturday. Colony brings a seven-game winning streak to town.

No. 5 Dimond (14-5) has a Cook Inlet Conference clash with league-leading Bartlett (11-6) on Tuesday. The Golden Bears lead the CIC at 8-0 and received votes in the poll but are unranked.

“I believe the thing that stands out to me the most is seeing the playing field start to even back out after the last couple of years,” Lawson said. “I think anyone can be beat, and it really comes down to who’s night it is.”

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