FAIRBANKS – The Monroe Catholic Rams will play in the championship game of the Service Tip-Off Tournament tonight in Anchorage.
The Rams jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in racing to a 60-34 triumph over the Eagle River Wolves in Friday night’s semifinal contest.
Monroe will take on the host Service Cougars in tonight’s championship game. Service advanced to the title contest with a 69-51 victory against the Palmer Moose.
“Service is the best team in the state,” Monroe coach Frank Ostanik said Friday night after watching the Cougars win their semifinal game. “They’re physical, play hard and pressure you all over the court.
“They’re the kind of team that will give us fits,” Ostanik added. “It’s just a great opportunity for us to play the best team in the state on their home floor.”
Balanced scoring and another stingy defensive performance by the Rams proved to be the keys in Friday night’s triumph.
Eleven of the 14 Monroe Catholic players who saw action scored points for the Rams, who were led by the 15-point performance of David Stepovich. Tyler Wells added 10 points for the winners.
Stepovich scored two field goals, two of Monroe’s five 3-pointers and was 5 for 7 from the foul line. Milo Hajdukovich also dropped a pair of 3-pointers on the Wolves to account for all six of his points.
Monroe Catholic raced out to a 17-7 lead in the first quarter and saw its lead grow to 38-14 at halftime and 55-22 at the end of the third quarter.
“The first half was the best half of basketball we’ve played all season,” Ostanik said. “We came out focused and did exactly what we wanted to do. It was the first time we defended like we did last year.”
Isaiah Banks and Daniel Dirscherl scored eight points apiece for Eagle River.
It was Monroe’s fourth win in as many nights to open the season. The Rams defeated the Eielson Ravens and West Valley Wolfpack on Tuesday and Wednesday in Fairbanks, then knocked off the Houston Hawks in the tournament opener on Thursday in Anchorage.
The Lathrop Malemutes jumped out to an early lead and raced past the Delta Huskies in a boys high school basketball endowment game Friday night in Delta Junction.
An endowment game does not count on a team’s overall record and part of the proceeds generated from the event are returned to the Alaska School Activities Association.
The Malemutes led 21-10 at the end of the first quarter and 35-18 at the break. Lathrop closed out the game with a 17-7 run in the fourth quarter.
“Our necks are going to be sore tomorrow because we did a lot of watching Lathrop run up and down the court tonight,” said Delta Junction coach Rick Vanden Boom, who was missing two starters Friday night. “Lathrop came out and got on it and played their game.”
Gabriel Cunningham led the Malemutes balanced offensive attack with 14 points. Everett Green chipped in 12, while Kyle Carlson and Tevin Gladden had nine apiece.
John Crabtree registered a game-high 19 points for Delta Junction and Aaron Williams added eight.
Delta Junction plays at Eielson tonight.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.