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Valdez hosting 2019 Aurora Conference Basketball Tournament March 7-9


This week in sports:

Valdez will be hosting the 2019 Aurora Conference Basketball Tournament on March 7-9. This is a double elimination tournament with six boys' teams and six girls' teams. Visiting teams are: Delta, Eielson, Hutchison, Monroe, and Galena. Games start at 9:00 a.m. this Thursday, March 7, in the Valdez High School gym.

JV Boys Basketball (Coach Lee Chadwick):

On Thursday, the JV boys basketball team played Delta in Delta Junction. We led at the half by 4 points. The third quarter was a high scoring quarter by both teams, with the teams tied going in to the fourth. Ultimately, we allowed Delta too many second chance baskets, and ended up losing the game by a score of 45-50. It was a hard fought and exciting game to watch. Aiden McAtee led the Bucs with 17 points, and Dennis Mott had 7 rebounds.

On Friday, we had an informal scrimmage session with Monroe Catholic. We competed well, and only lost one of the several "quarters" we played them.

Saturday was the JV's final game against the West Valley Wolfpack. Having split two games with them previously this year, the game promised to be a good one. Our team expanded by five players from the varsity team that were unable to travel, and they played the bulk of the minutes. An early lead by the Bucs melted away at the end of the half. West Valley led for most of the second half, with the Bucs narrowing it to a 1-point lead in the fourth quarter. Ultimately, turnovers and shot selections in the final few minutes hampered our effort at a comeback, and we ended up losing by 4 points. Stats were unavailable for this game as the statisticians were video-streaming the game for people back home. Despite the loss, it was great opportunity for the younger varsity players to get some valuable game time prior to them heading in to the upcoming region and state tournaments.

Varsity Girls Basketball (Coach Joe Robison):

Thursday, March 28, at Delta

The Lady Bucs played at Delta on Thursday night and despite a long bus ride, were able to come away with a 41-23 win. The Bucs relied heavily on their defense, as they struggled shooting from the floor. The Lady Bucs forced 30 turnovers, and held Delta to 20 percent from the field. Valdez was led by Ally Sieber with 12 points and Jade Watts with 9 points. Reese King also had nine steals.

Friday, March 1, at Galena

The Lady Bucs lost 37-53 to a really good - and hot shooting - Galena team on Friday night. The Lady Hawks made six 3 pointers in the first quarter, en route to 12 for the game. The Lady Bucs fought hard, but were not able to overcome the hot shooting of the Lady Hawks. Galena ended the game going 12 for 21 from the 3-point line.

Saturday, March 2, at Galena

Despite their best defensive performance of the year, the Lady Bucs fell to Galena 28-30 on Saturday. The Lady Bucs held a very good offensive team to 22 percent from the field while forcing 25 turnovers. Reese King and Jade Watts had excellent defensive games, with King totaling eight steals. The Bucs had the lead late in the fourth quarter, before a late Galena score.

Coach's Comments

I was really proud of how the girls responded on Saturday night. Galena is an excellent basketball team that can really score. We didn't have an answer for their hot shooting on Friday, but were able to get back to our defensive identity on Saturday. We really pride ourselves in being relentless on the defensive end and I thought we did that. We just didn't play well enough offensively. The regional tournament should be a lot of fun.

Varsity Boys Basketball (Coach Bart Hinkle):

Thursday, February 28: Valdez 65, Delta Junction 43

For the second consecutive week, the Bucs traveled north for a three-day Aurora Conference stint - with the Thursday game against the Delta Junction Huskies.

Unlike the week prior, the Buccaneers took the court with desire and an intensity that not only matched, but exceeded, that of the hometown Huskies. The first quarter saw the Huskies sink three 3-pointers en route to a tally of 16, but the Bucs answered with 18 points of their own to take a 2-point lead into the second quarter. It was a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the night, as they outscored Delta 17-8 in the second quarter to enter intermission up 35-24.

The spirited effort and quality play continued in the third quarter with the Bucs netting 16 and the Huskies 14. In the fourth quarter Delta only managed 5 points while the Bucs scored 14 to cement a 65-43 victory. The win represented not only an Aurora Conference road win, but also one of the more complete victories the Bucs registered this season, and a 33-point swing from the previous contest versus Delta.

The Bucs out-rebounded the Huskies 29-21 and forced them into 17 turnovers, while only committing eight of their own. All 12 rostered Buccaneers registered playing time, with three players scoring in double figures: Bennett Hinkle (21 points, five assists), Jalen Freeman (15 points, five rebounds), and Logan Heckathorn (14 points). Ike Watson grabbed eight rebounds and successfully drew an offensive foul.

Friday, March 1: Valdez 51, Galena 18

On Friday, seven of the 12 Varsity Buccaneers traveled to Galena to face the Hawks in the last two regular-season games of the year. The Buccaneers entered the weekend as the #1 seed in the upcoming Regional Tournament, but needed two road wins to solidify the seeding.

The Bucs ensured their seeding was not in jeopardy on Friday, as they thoroughly outmatched the Hawks - holding the home team to single digit scoring in each of the four quarters, en route to a dominant 51-18 win. The Bucs used early pressure to establish a 14-2 first-quarter lead followed by a 30-11 halftime advantage. In the third quarter the Hawks were blanked, but for a lone free throw - resulting in a 41-12 Buccaneer lead entering the fourth quarter.

Valdez held Galena to 8-for-37 shooting from the floor and forced them into 18 turnovers. The Buccaneers featured a balanced offensive attack, with Kyler LaBonte leading (12 points), followed by Bennett Hinkle and Ike Watson (10 points apiece). Ike Watson also snatched 13 rebounds and successfully drew an offensive foul.

Saturday, March 2: Valdez 64, Galena 33

Saturday night was Senior Night for the Galena Hawks, who were kind enough to recognize the Valdez Seniors as well prior to tip-off of the boys game. The Galena gym was standing-room only and pulsing with atmosphere after witnessing a thrilling finish to a hotly contested game. The Galena boys fed off the emotion to begin the game, jumping out to an early lead and scoring 8 first quarter points. The Bucs responded mid-quarter and were able to establish a 15-8 lead entering the second quarter. Each team matched their first-quarter offensive output in the second quarter - resulting in a 30-16 Buccaneer lead at halftime. The Bucs took control of the game in the third, outscoring Galena 21-5, and cruised to a 64-33 victory.

All eight rostered Buccaneers saw sizable game action, as Justin Prax traded in the brown oxford dress shoes for some ivory-white Adidas when he was called into action during the second half. Prax was a clear crowd favorite throughout the fourth quarter, but the frenzy-inducing moment for the crowd came when Douglas Cummins received the ball on the right wing, stepped back, and drained a 3-pointer.

Cummins wasn't the only hot Buccaneer for the night, as Logan Heckathorn shot a scintillating 10-of-12 from the floor, including 5-of-6 from behind the arc, on his way to scoring 27 points. Heckathorn also successfully drew an offensive foul. Bennett Hinkle chipped in 10 points while dishing out eight assists and notching six steals. Jalen Freeman netted 9 in less than one half of play.


The Buccaneers finished the 2018-2019 regular season with an 8-2 record in the Aurora Conference, tied with Monroe Catholic and good enough (via tiebreaker) for the #1 seed in the upcoming Aurora Conference Regional Tournament. On Thursday evening (March 7), the Bucs will take on the winner of the #4/#5 game featuring the Hutchison Hawks and Delta Huskies.


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