In their first home games in nearly two years, the Bethel Warriors got even with the Tanana Wolves
After a nearly two year hiatus, the Bethel Warrior Dome hosted its first home games this past weekend. The varsity boys played the Tanana Wolves on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8. The Wolves won the first night’s game, but the Bethel Warriors came back to snag a narrow win on Saturday, Jan. 8. Saturday’s tense game grew more tense when the teams tied and the game went into overtime.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Warrior Dome. This afternoon's contest is a rematch of last night's game between the visiting Tanana Wolves and our own home team, the Bethel Warriors,” said long-time Bethel basketball announcer Palmer Bailey. It was his first home game back too.
The Bethel Warriors took a comfortable lead throughout the first period and into the second. The Wolves pulled ahead of The Warriors, but in the 30 seconds before halftime, the warriors held possession of the ball and ran through their plays, dancing around the Wolves. With just seconds to spare in the first half, captain Peter Crow, a senior, made a mad dash and a pass to co-captain Mathew Fredricks, a junior, who pivoted quickly, aimed, shot, and scored a 3-pointer. Fredricks' score tied the game at the end of the first half.
The Tanana Wolves are, overall, a little taller and a little more in practice than the Warriors, who didn’t have a season last year. The Wolves did and went on to be the state runner-up in the 1A section.
But that didn't stop the Warriors. They started out the second half strong, going into the fourth period with a more than 10 point lead over the Wolves. But then the Wolves started gaining on the Warriors. With thirty seconds to go in the game, the Warriors’ lead dwindled to just three points.
With just six seconds on the clock, Tanana Wolves senior Isaac Morgan scored a 3-pointer. The small crowd of Tanana fans behind the Wolves’ bench went crazy, and Warriors head coach Eric Jung called a time out.
The fourth quarter ended with a tie, and the game extended into overtime.
Overtime was tense, with each team trading off as the leader. Finally, the Warriors pulled back ahead. The game ended with a final score of 56-55, and the Warriors fans erupted into cheers.
The Warriors are happy with their win, though Jung said that he wished his team would have let him relax a little.
“I told the kids I'm not as young as I always lie and say that I am. I gotta take it easy on my heart,” said Jung.
Team captain Crow, the point-leader for the game, was thrilled to be playing at home again.
“It just feels good to be home in front of our home crowd. And to play a good team like that and come up with a win. That feels good,” said Crow.
The home crowd was more sparse than usual, but energetic and excited. Each player was only allowed to invite two vaccinated guests to the game.
Co-captain Fredricks looked energetic and alive on the court. He said that he’s happy to be back after a bleak winter of no basketball last year.
“I was barely able to leave my house. I had nothing to do when there's no basketball season,” said Fredricks.
He said that his days have changed a lot since starting practice up again just over a month ago.
“It really brightened up my life,” said Fredricks.
The Warrior Girls’ varsity team was at the Warrior Dome to support the boys team. They said that it was good to see the boys win, but they’re excited for their own comeback. The Palmer team that they were scheduled to play that weekend pulled out of the games.
But the girls will get to see their first home game back in nearly two years during the annual Donlin Gold Tournament at the end of January.