FAIRBANKS — The Kodiak Bears stole the show on the opening night of the inaugural Joe. T. Classic Basketball Tournament on Thursday at Lathrop High School.
The Bears boys and girls both posted wins in the opening round of the three-day, round-robin tournament named after former Lathrop coach Joe Tremarello, who died in September after battling brain cancer.
The Bears boys downed the West Valley Wolfpack 74-62, while the Bears girls pulled out a 47-42 win against the host Malemutes.
In other games Thursday, the Lathrop boys raced to an 80-44 victory against North Pole and the West Valley girls earned a 40-30 victory against Bartlett.
Today’s games feature the Kodiak boys against North Pole at 3 p.m., the West Valley girls against Kodiak at 4:30 p.m.; the Lathrop boys against West Valley at 6 p.m. and Lathrop girls against Bartlett at 7:30 p.m.
Rebounding and free-throw shooting proved to be the difference in the Kodiak boys win over West Valley.
“We sent them to the free throw line quite a bit and they rebounded well, while we continued to struggle on the boards,” said West Valley coach Kimani Shotwell. “Rebounding has been our Achilles heel all season, but we’ve got a group of hard-working kids and we’ll get if figured out.”
Kodiak was 33 for 46 from the free throw line, while West Valley made just 4 of 10 shots from the charity stripe.
Austin Frick had 22 points for the Bears, including 14 for 16 free throws. Josh Obes added 16 points for the winners, with Elijah Hiner nailed 15 and Jerruel Mongolis knocking down 10.
Daniel Hornbuckle registered a game-high 22 points, including five 3-point field goals, for West Valley. He also had seven assists and four steals. Jason Gordon added 14 points, and Charles Suddeth tallied 12 points to go along with eight rebounds and four steals.
The Kodiak girls outscored Lathrop 16-12 in the second quarter to preserve a five-point victory in a game that was close throughout.
Hannah Wandersee and Jerrica Nelson led Kodiak with 14 points apiece.
Erisha Talley and Ruthy Hebard registered 14 points apiece for Lathrop and Jasmine White had 12, but only one other Lathrop player scored points.
West Valley girls
Playing its first game with floor leader Hannah Mattson, who is out with a hand injury, West Valley put together a solid performance in claiming a win against Bartlett.
“I thought kids did excellent job,” said West Valley coach Steve Caciari. “We executed really well down the stretch.”
Callie Franz led a balanced West Valley attack with 9 points and Carlee Marques chipped in eight.
Sarah Johnson led Bartlett with a game-high 12 points.
The Lathrop boys raced out to a 48-18 lead in the first half and cruised past North Pole in the final game of the day.
Tremon Washington led the Malemutes with a 19-point performance and Everette Green added 16.
Austin McCoy was North Pole’s leading scorer with 10, and Alec Tucker added nine, all in the second half.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.