FAIRBANKS — After a rousing ceremony dedicating the Lathrop High School basketball floor “Coach T Court” in memory of the late Joe Tremarello, the crowd was silent when the Malemutes opened the prep basketball season hosting the North Pole Patriots.
And the crowd remained silent for more than 3 1/2 minutes in honor of “Coach T.”
The only thing heard in a packed gymnasium was the sound of the officials’ whistle and reports of foul calls to the scorer’s table, and few instructions shouted out by players.
There were no coaches barking, no cheers for baskets or jeers for an inadvertent whistle or missed call. Just silence.
Lathrop’s version of Silent Night came to a crashing halt when Terrell Ford tipped in an errant shot by one of his teammates to give the Malemutes their 10th and 11th point.
Fans from both teams roared their approval in a burst of sound that hasn’t been heard in the Lathrop gym in a long time, if ever.
“That was great,” Lathrop coach Milo Griffin said after the Malemutes raced to a 71-30 victory against the Patriots. It got everyone involved in the game.”
The Silent Night is modeled after a tradition at Taylor University in Indiana.
“Maybe we can start a new tradition here as well,” Griffin said. “We’ll see how everything works out.”
Ironically, Ford’s historic basket at Lathrop were the only two points he scored in the Malemutes’ runaway win.
“We played well tonight,” Griffin said. “We had a really good transition game.”
Kyle Carlson led four Lathrop players in double figures with 17 points. Cole Berner scored 15 points for the Malemutes, while Everett Green and Gabriel Cunningham tallied 10 points.
Ray Tamse was the only North Pole player in double figures with 11 points. He knocked down three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws.
Josie Broderick crossed the 1,000-point threshold as the North Pole girls rallied to edge the Malemutes 52-49 in a hard-fought battle.
Broderick nailed a 3-pointer in the second half to land exactly on the 1,000-point mark. North Pole coach Keenan Hollister immediately called time out so Broderick could be honored. She received the game ball from Lathrop coach Dave Stewart and an ovation from the crowd when her accomplishment was recognized.
Broderick, who has signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Alaska Nanooks next season, finished with a game-high 28 points as North Pole overcame a 27-22 halftime deficit to claim the win in the conference and season openers for both teams.
“It was a hell of a kick off to the season,” Hollister said. “It was the leadership of my three senior — Josie (Broderick), Raegan (Smothers) and Erika (Croxen) — that made the difference tonight.”
Hollister said Smothers and Croxen played most of the third quarter with three fouls and parts of the fourth with four fouls.
“They were able to step up and tell their teammates what to do without fouling,” Hollister said. “My two new starters — Willow Stewart and Raelyn Verney — did an awesome job as well.”
Smothers added 12 points for the Patriots, while Stewart chipped in 10 and Croxen accounted for the other two.
Lathrop also had four players combine for all its points.
Jasmine White knocked down 22, while Ruthy Hebard tallied 15, Erisha Talley put in eight and Rachel Jordan registered four.
Lathrop and North Pole were the only two Interior teams to open the season Saturday night.
Eielson will open at Monroe Catholic on Tuesday night at Boileau Hall and North Pole is back in action Tuesday night at Hutchison.
Lathrop plays endowment games on Friday night at Delta Junction.
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