Thunderous cheers and loud foot-stomping from the crowd, rousing music played by the Homer High band directed by Amy Johnson and an energetic team of Mariner cheerleaders were second only to the action in the Homer High School Alice Witte Gymnasium Friday night as the Mariner girls and boys basketball teams took on the Seward Seahawks.
The Mariner boys grabbed the lead at the beginning of their game, with Seward starting to close the gap by the end of the first quarter and Homer leading by a mere 10-9. In the second quarter, the Seahawks continued their drive, gaining a seven-point lead and a 20-13 score by halftime.
Coming back onto the floor, the Mariners picked up the pace, slipping past Seward to as much as a nine-point lead, but ending the eight-minute period with the Seahawks gaining a narrow 32-31 foothold.
In the final race for the finish, Seward gained and maintained the lead until the Mariners tied it 40-40 from the free-throw line with three and one-half minutes left on the clock. Thirty seconds later, Seward used a free-throw advantage to regain a one-point lead.
The final two minutes of the game were a fast-paced, back-and-forth battle, with the Mariners using free throws to break a 44-44 tie and then sinking one more basket for a 48-46 finish.
“The team captain is the one to speak to the team during one of those final time-outs,” said Mariner Head Coach Mark Casseri. “He told the team to not let up and push hard to win the game. That was Quinn Daugharty.”
Casseri said he and assistant coaches Tim Daugharty and Dan Miotke “just remind the players of the team goals and what they do very well as individual players to meet the team goals.”
The girls played a close game, with the Mariners tied 14-14 at the half and ahead 16-14 at the end of the third quarter. With less than three minutes left in the game, the Seahawks inched ahead to a 21-17 victory.
“The Mariners fought for control of the game and did an excellent job on defense,” said Homer Head Coach Connie Akers. “It was a tough ending, but the girls did a really good job holding Seward’s top two scorers to significantly fewer points then they typically score.”
The Mariner girls and boys teams head to the far northern reaches of Alaska basketball this week to play in the Whaler Invite in Barrow.
Homer’s girls and boys teams play Barrow tonight, beginning at 7:30 p.m.; Mt. Edgecombe on Friday, beginning at 4:30 p.m.; and Hutchison on Saturday, with games starting at 4:30 p.m.
While Akers was reluctant to predict the tournament’s outcome, she said, “I’m confident that the (Mariner) girls will play good defense and make some good plays on the court. Like any game, if we rebound well, we stand a good chance of winning. Our losses have been by close margins, so the team is upbeat about our play.”
Mariner fans can watch the Homer High boys and girls teams in action during the Homer Winter Carnival, when they are host to girls teams from Grace Christian, Point Hope and Delta Junction, and boys teams from Point Hope, Delta and King Cove.
“I really like the tournaments we’ve been in this season,” said Akers.
“We’ve seen many new teams, giving us opportunities to score and defend against a wide range of abilities, defensive styles and offenses.”
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.