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Bethel Lady Warriors advance to state basketball tournament after placing second in regions. Boys cap off season with strong finish

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Courtesy of Mel Fredericks
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The Bethel Lady Warriors are advancing to the state basketball tournament after placing second in the 3A Western Conference Regional Tournament in Kotzebue.

After winning their last game of the 3A Western Conference Regional Tournament on March 12 in Kotzebue, the Bethel Lady Warriors are going to the state basketball tournament. The Bethel boys just missed the state tournament in a nail biter of a game, where the coach said that the team gave it their all.

“Oh man, I’m so excited,” said Bethel Regional High School senior Ava Lieb, co-captain of the Lady Warriors. She lost her voice cheering for the boys team this weekend. “Bethel girls haven't been in the state championships since 2018. Since I was in eighth grade, which is pretty exciting because our goal was to make it to the state tournament. And that’s what we did this weekend, so I’m pretty proud of us and can’t wait to see what will happen in that state tournament.”

On March 11, the girls lost the regional tournament championship game to the Barrow Whalers 40-52. But they rebounded the next day, beating the Nome Nanooks 45-39 to take second place in the regional tournament and advance to state. It was the fourth time that Nome and Bethel’s girls teams had faced off in just two weeks.

“It was definitely a pretty physical game,” said BRHS junior and co-captain Bryn Garrison. “‘Cause I know they're really hungry to beat us ‘cause how much we've beaten them already.”

Looking ahead to the state tournament, Lieb said that they were just going to enjoy being there, a place no player on the team has been before.

“We're just gonna go play our game, Warrior Basketball, and we're gonna have fun and see what happens,” Lieb said.

The Bethel boys almost joined the girls team at state. It was a difference of two points in their final match of the regional tournament.

“Just a couple of things that just bounced the wrong way,” said head coach Eric Jung.

On March 11, the Bethel boys lost to Nome 37-53. On March 12 they lost to the Barrow Whalers 59-61. But Coach Jung said that the results of the tournament don’t show how well the team played this weekend.

“All three games over the course of the tournament for us were our three best games of the season. We want to talk about peaking at the right time; we definitely did this year,” Jung said.

The team played especially well in the last game against Barrow, where senior and team captain Peter Crow put up an amazing 35 points. The game was close from the start until the very end.

“It sucks to have lost the game; it would have been great to have gone to state,” Jung said. “But if you're gonna lose out here and end up having your season end, losing by two to the fifth best team in the state, playing a great game as they're also playing a great game. And that's not a bad way to go out if you have to lose.”

The state 3A basketball tournament begins March 23 in Anchorage. Tune into KYUK 640 AM to follow the Bethel Lady Warriors in their first state tournament in four years.

Greg Kim is a news reporter for KYUK covering environment, health, education, public safety, culture and subsistence. He's covered everything from Newtok's relocation due to climate change-fueled erosion to the Bethel chicken massacre of 2020.
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