VHS basketball teams heading to state championships next week
Lady Bucs upset first and second seeds during regional tourney at Delta
Fans of Buccaneer basketball, rejoice. Both the girls and boys teams will be heading to Anchorage next week for the state championships.
The Lady Buccaneers took the top spot during the Region III championships in Delta last week, upsetting the apple cart and exceeding expectations.
"We got to regionals and they played exceptionally well," Coach Doug Fleming said in a telephonic interview Monday. "Everybody counted them out and they are moving forward with what they wanted to do."
The Buccaneer boys took second place after a series of four games, earning the second-place title and a shot at state.
The Lady Bucs began their journey to the top Thursday in an aggressive game against Eielson.
"They just worked their tails off against Eielson," Fleming said.
The Valdez girls began the first quarter by squeaking by Eielson with a 12-10 lead. Eielson came back strong in the second, outscoring Valdez by eight points. Going into the third quarter - down by six points - the team brought it on and outscored the opposition by eight points, beating Eielson 54-41.
Sydney Johnson led the team in scoring, netting 18 points - and 20 rebounds - towards the team's victory. Carlee Fleming scored 9 points and added four rebounds. Jade Watts and Kaylee MacDonald contributed 8 points.
The girls later took on number one seed, Galena.
In the words of Fleming, the Valdez girls "...took them down."
Valdez walked away with a 43-33 win - it's second game in one day.
Johnson again led the Lady Bucs, scoring 14 points and another 20 rebounds.
The Lady Bucs came up against a familiar foe for the Region III title: Monroe Catholic.
The Valdez girls were still stinging from a two-game loss to the Lady Rams - including a double-overtime game - two weeks ago.
Valdez came out dribbling against Monroe - a team that came into the tournament as second seed.
The Lady Bucs outscored Monroe in the first quarter, but the scored was tied at the end of the second, 12-12. The hometown girls pushed hard, taking the third and fourth quarters for a hard-earned 36-31 win - and the team's third conference title in a row.
"That was a great game for the kids," Fleming said. "A great team effort for the ladies."
Bobbi Mott, Johnson and Fleming were named to the all-conference team.
The Buccaneers boys' team took second place after winning two games, losing a third, then bouncing back for a second place finish and another shot at the state championships.
The Bucs took no prisoners Thursday in the team's first game against Galena.
The boys from Valdez went into the second half of the game with a 15-point lead, stretching the gap further in the third and fourth quarters for the win, 61-36.
Bennett Hinkle took the lead in game, scoring 15 points. Logan Heckathorn was no slouch, contributing 12 points, with Seth Auble hot on his heals with 10 points.
But the team was not allowed to rest on its laurels.
The Bucs took on Delta later that day, chalking up another victory, 66-50.
Hinkle and Auble were both on point, with Hinkle contributing 20 points, Auble 19 - plus 12 rebounds.
This earned the team a shot at the regional title Friday - and another game against Monroe Catholic. The Buccaneers had hoped to take the sting out of a double loss to Monroe in the team's final home games in Valdez earlier this month.
Monroe bested Valdez in the first quarter, but the Bucs came back in the second, and were behind by three points going into the second half. The deficit grew by another three points in the third quarter. Valdez took the fourth, but it was not enough to overcome the point spread, and Monroe beat the home team, 47-42.
Auble scored 11 points in the loss, and Hinkle scored 10. Heckathorn and Tyler Mann each contributed 8 points.
The Bucs got a shot at second place Saturday, by taking on Eielson.
Valdez was up by two points at the end of the first quarter, but was down by four at the end of the second. Eielson shot ahead even further during the third, outscoring Valdez by an additional five points. Valdez bounced back in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 points and keeping Eielson down to the single digits, handing the home team a 55-47 victory - and second place in regional championships.
Auble led Valdez to victory in the final game, scoring 20 points and contributing nine rebounds. Heckathorn had a great game with 10 points and two rebounds. Jalen Freeman contributed 9 points.
Both teams are solid contenders for the state title in Anchorage which begin late next week.