Nordic Ski (Coach Timi Miner):
This weekend the Valdez High School Ski Team had their final time trial. The skiers raced 7.5 kilometers on classic skis in freezing weather. It was their longest race yet with fast and hard-pacted snow, they all pulled through to prove that skiers really are the toughest of athletes. Ben Stolen, Eric Auten, and Karen Cline all joined our team on skate skis and came in at 21.50, 22.09, and 38.58 respectively. William Benes, our newest skier, showed amazing improvement and pulled in at third with a time of 36.11. Blake Morrison, always consistent and hard working, came in at 49.00 and Aiden Stefanec, after fighting off a cold for a week, pushed through and came out with a time of 55.50. All skiers have been learning and improving as our short season is drawing to a close. We would also like to thank everyone who came out to ski with us!
Girls Varsity Basketball (Coach Joe Robison):
This weekend, the Lady Buc Basketball team welcomed Monroe Catholic to town for a couple of critical Aurora Conference games.
The Lady Bucs overcame a sluggish first half to pull away for a 48 – 35 win. The Bucs were led in scoring by sophomores Reese King and Ally Seiber, who poured in 13 each. Junior Jillian Fleming contributed 10 points. The Lady Bucs took control in the second half, outscoring the Rams 25 – 14.
The Buccaneer basketball team sent seniors Jade Watts and Ashley Ramoth out with a 44 – 25 win over Monroe on senior night. Both seniors played one of their best defensive games of the year, which was critical to the win. The Lady Bucs were paced by Ally Seiber with 16 points, while Jillian Fleming added 8. Seniors Jade Watts and Ashley Ramoth had 7 and 6 points respectively.
The Junior Varsity Lady Bucs were also able to get some game time this weekend as they scrimmaged the GMS Middle School team. The JV Team will travel to Wasilla next weekend for The Rally in the Valley Redington Tournament.
The Varsity Lady Bucs are off this weekend, before returning to action Feb. 14 in the Elks Tournament against Cordova.
“I was very proud our the girls this weekend. With the exception of the first half Friday, I thought we defended really well. Our goal is to put pressure on people and make them uncomfortable, and I really thought we were able to do that. Monroe has a couple of girls that can really score, and it was a total team effort to defend the way we did. We are getting a much needed break at a good time, and we will look to continue to get better heading into the Elk’s tournament”
Boys JV Basketball (Coach Lee Chadwick):
On Friday we played Monroe Catholic School. Although we took a quick lead the first quarter, a disastrous second quarter left us behind 17-25. Ultimately, we were not able to overcome the deficit much, eventually losing the contest 40-46. Kalin Woods led the scoring for the Bucs with 14 points and 5 rebounds.
Saturday was also an exciting game, anchored by the defensive efforts of Rafael Alfaro, Hayden Howard, and Jona Turner. We led by 3 at the end of the 1st period, and closed the half still ahead by three. At the end of the 3rd period, we maintained a slim 1 point lead. In the final minute of the game, we made 3 crucial baskets that gave us the lead and sealed the win with a final score of 41-35. Storm Rohrer led the scoring with 18 points and 8 rebounds, while Alfaro added 15 points and 7 rebounds.
Boys Varsity Basketball (Coach Bart Hinkle):
Friday, February 1st: Valdez 37, Monroe Catholic 41
Friday night was Black Out night at VHS as the Buccaneers squared off against Aurora Conference rivals Monroe Catholic Rams. Typical of a Bucs/Rams matchup, the game featured intense man-to-man defense, physical play, and extended offensive possessions – resulting in an 8-7 Monroe lead after the first quarter. The Bucs controlled the second quarter (15-6), to take a 22-14 lead into halftime. In the 3rd quarter the Rams returned the favor and outscored the Bucs 14-4, taking a 28-27 lead into the fourth quarter. The final stanza remained close throughout, with Monroe edging Valdez 13-10. The 41-37 loss to Monroe marked the first Aurora Conference loss for the Bucs this season.
Kyler LaBonte led the Bucs in scoring with 14 points, followed by Jalen Freeman with 10 points and 7 rebounds. Bennett Hinkle successfully drew an offensive foul.
Saturday, February 2nd: Valdez 50, Monroe Catholic 45
Saturday was Senior Night. In addition to recognizing the Seniors (and their parents) prior to the game, the Bucs started five Seniors [Ike Watson, Kyler LaBonte, Bennett Hinkle, Logan Heckathorn, and Justin Prax]. Going into Saturday, the Senior class sported a career record of 69-34. Of those 34 losses, 16 have come at the hands of the Monroe Catholic Rams. None of the 69 wins have come against Monroe. Saturday night represented the last guaranteed chance for the Senior Bucs to defeat the Rams. The calendar read Groundhog Day…the Bucs were committed to ensure it did not play out that way in the VHS gym.
In front of a large, amped up, hometown crowd the spotlight (literally) shone on the Senior Bucs. Much to the delight of the crowd (and fellow Buc teammates), Justin Prax made his first-ever career start. Both teams appeared to feed off the energy in the gym, as the first quarter featured efficient offense, timely shooting, and hard-nosed defense. Monroe ended the 1st quarter up 18-11. The shooting efficiency dried up in the second quarter as scoring became hard to come by. Only 9 points were scored between the two teams; the Bucs netted 3 of those – leading to a 24-14 Monroe lead at the half.
The half-time talk had little to do with “X’s” and “O’s”, and instead focused on one message: play with heart, live with the results. The Bucs responded accordingly- winning the 3rd quarter by a tilt of 13-10, and reducing the Monroe lead to 34-27 entering the 4th quarter. Kudos to the Valdez fan base – the Bucs seemed to feed off the energy in the gym, as they clawed their way back into the contest via suffocating pressure defense, timely big plays, and a spirited team effort – resulting in a 41-41 tie game with approximately 57 seconds left in the game and Monroe with the ball. An impressive defensive stand and rebound sent the game into a 4:00 overtime period.
Monroe scored first, establishing a 43-41 lead until a pivotal offensive rebound by Kyler LaBonte led to a Jalen Freeman 3-pointer that put the Bucs ahead 44-43. It was their first lead since early in the first quarter, and once they had it, they did not relinquish it. The stifling defense continued and forced Monroe into a must-foul situation. Four converted free throw attempts by Jalen Freeman cemented the 70th win of this Senior class: a memorable 50-45 victory over the Monroe Rams.
The Bucs shot 5-of-8 from the 3 point line and 13-of-21 from the free throw line, including timely shots down the stretch. The scoring was balanced amongst the traditional starting five [Bennett Hinkle (16), Jalen Freeman (10), and Kyler LaBonte, Ike Watson, and Logan Heckathorn with 8 apiece].
The Bucs have an open weekend coming up, and next play in the 42nd annual Elks Tournament that they will host February 14th-16th. One of the longest running tournaments in Alaska, this year’s tournament promises to showcase premiere boys high school basketball. The eight team field consists of the #1 ranked (4A) Dimond Lynx, #1 ranked (3A) ACS Lions, #2 ranked (3A) Valdez Buccaneers, #4 ranked (3A) Barrow Whalers, #3 ranked (2A) Glennallen Panthers, #4 (2A) ranked Cordova Wolverines, as well as the Bethel Warriors (3A) and Kodiak Bears (4A).
This Week in Sports:
Regional Nordic Ski Meet: The Nordic Ski Team will leave on Thursday for the Region VI Ski Meet in Fairbanks. The Meet will be on Friday and Saturday at Birch Hill.
Redington JV Basketball Tournament: JV Boys, JV Girls, and Cheerleaders will leave for Redington for the Rally in The Valley JV Basketball Tournament on Thursday. Girls play Redington at 6:00 pm and Boys play Redington at 7:30 pm.