Alaska high school basketball’s historic winning streak came to a crashing halt Friday night in Wasilla, where the Warriors posted a 47-32 wire-to-wire win over Mountain City Christian Academy.
Wasilla scored 14 of the game’s first 15 points and maintained a double-figure lead for the final three quarters to snap MCCA’s 133-game, six-year winning streak against in-state competition.
Alaska player-of-the-year favorite Layla Hays of Wasilla recorded 15 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots. The 6-foot-5 first-team all-state junior forward dominated the paint and helped slow down a Lions team that has run roughshod over Alaska since 2018, winning six straight state championships – four at the Class 3A level and the last two since moving to Class 4A.
Before Friday, MCCA, formerly known as ACS, hadn’t lost to an Alaska team since Feb. 9, 2018, when the Lions fell 55-33 at Wasilla.
Wasilla’s coach back then was Jeannie Hebert-Truax, and the living legend was on the sideline Friday in her patented white blazer and red pants. It’s her big-game look, and her team looked just as chic.
First-team all-state junior point guard Mylee Anderson scored nine points, directed the offense and was leader of the pack for a smothering defense that gave MCCA a taste of its own medicine.
Over the years, the Lions have made a killing by executing a stifling, pressing defense that commonly forced turnovers and created easy baskets. But the shoe was on the other foot Friday.
Anderson and other guards such as Savannah Kroon, Livia Breshears and Katie Jackson did well to break the press and slow down the Lions on offense.
MCCA never got in sync offensively, which prevented the Lions from setting up their defense. They also missed a lot of shots they normally make, and you gotta give Wasilla credit for some of that.
Anderson was a difference maker with her court vision, deft dribbling and activity on defense. She got the party started with a corner 3-pointer 15 seconds into the game to bring the crowd to life.
The Wasilla High gymnasium was packed with nearly 1,000 in attendance, a great setting that provided a ton of atmosphere.
The Warriors (11-3) responded to the terrific turnout by racing out to a 7-0 lead, and then extended it to 14-1 after Kyndra Boling converted a layup on an assist from Hays.
MCCA responded with a 10-1 run, highlighted by back-to-back 3s by Keelie Kronberger on assists from Maliyah Alex.
Wasilla led 15-11 after the first quarter and it felt like it was going to be a tight game. But that feeling faded fast after Wasilla opened the second quarter on a 12-0 run and held MCCA to just three points in the eight-minute frame to carry a 29-14 lead into the break.
Midway through the third quarter, Anderson scored on a drive and was fouled hard on a clean play. There would be no easy layups. Moments later, Hays scored in the post on a left-handed finish as the lead swelled to 36-19.
When MCCA’s Nyatuong Majiok drilled a 3 from the top of the key, it was her team’s first make from long range in more than 12 minutes.
Jasmine Schaeffer gave the Lions a lift, blocking Hays, hitting a nice scoop shot and nearly converting a reverse layup on a nice blow-by drive.
Morgan Maldonado led MCCA with 14 points, including a pretty spin move finish and foul that made it 42-30, the closest the Lions had been since the early stages of the second quarter.
But Wasilla closed it out with a 5-2 run to hand MCCA (10-1) its first loss since the Lions fell to Bellarmine Prep (WA) last season, a stretch of 34 games.
The Wasilla players celebrated and hugged after the final buzzer as the crowd cheered, but Hebert-Truax was quick to tamp down the enthusiasm and get them in line for the customary postgame handshake. No doubt she reminded them that this was the first of a handful of head-to-head meetings between the Northern Lights Conference frontrunners in the buildup to March Madness.