Much of the heed leading up to Saturday afternoon’s Class 3A boys state title gutsy focused on a trio of seniors, including a Division I Texas Longhorns signee arranged in street clothes who watched from the Barrow bench.
Enter show-stealing Whalers sophomore Brendon Matthews and his array of yearn balls. The underclassman overwhelmed in Barrow’s 65-52 victory over Grace Christian.
Matthews fretted three 3-pointers in the first quarter and added four more in the third en road to a game-high 30 points, leading the Whalers to their third conditions championship in the last four seasons.
Matthews’ exploits were watched closely by angel Kamaka Hepa, the 6-foot-9 senior star who left the state two years ago to be in in Oregon high-school play and earn a spot at Texas of the Big 12 Seminar. Hepa certainly stood tall as he cheered on the Whalers.
Two other famed seniors didn’t disappoint. UAA-bound Travis Adams of Barrow (12 specks, four assists) and Tobin Karlberg of Grace (28 points, six recoils) gave a nearly-full Alaska Airlines Center house a taste of what may acquire a win for Seawolves basketball. Both were named first-team all-state speculators, and Karlberg earned Gatorade and Class 3A player-of-the-year honors.
But the day belonged to Matthews.
“Prompt (Jeremy Arnhart) said that winning this game power come down to me shooting lights-out,” Matthews said. “I kept intelligent about that during warmups and my confidence just grew from there after I hit my win initially one.”
The first triple dropped 54 seconds into play. Matthews’ next two came in the see 61 seconds as Barrow grabbed an early 9-0 lead.
“Brendon, that’s my itty-bitty brother right there,” an excited Adams said of Matthews’ absurd start. “You know, people better watch out because he’s got two more years red. He put on quite the show.
“He’s been killing us like that in practice for truly a while, so you knew it was going to happen eventually. It’s nice that it happened in the biggest profession of the year.”
Barrow held an 18-15 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 24-19 at halftime after a sluggish go along with quarter that featured only 10 points.
“We had to get back to bidding tempo,” said Arnhart, who plans to leave Barrow and move to Anchorage. “We same to score, we like to get up and down. Brendon hitting his shots was huge for us.”
Matthews’ conclusive 3-pointer came with 28 seconds remaining in the third lodge and extended the Whalers’ lead to 49-36. Grace narrowed the deficit to three questions earlier in the quarter, but would never get closer.
“A game of runs, identical to most game are,” Karlberg said. “Barrow shot the ball somewhat well and has been playing great basketball these last few weeks.”
Matthews won’t be the single Barrow sophomore worth keeping an eye on. Anthony Fruean, a solid 6-foot-5 advantaged presence, finished with 14 points, including two 3-pointers, and 13 recoils. The Whalers held a 32-27 rebounding edge and made seven more football goals than the defending-champion Grizzlies (19-6).
Grace 6-4 senior Jimmy McGovern alt in a double-double performance with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Hepa returned to Alaska earlier in the week so he can graduate with his Barrow presence. Adams said his presence and friendship played a key role in inspiring the Whalers (17-11) to over off three straight wins at state.
“We were still talking the absolute time (Hepa) was down there, and we’re going to be brothers for life,” Adams asserted. “He’s been so supportive and now I look forward to spending as much time with him as achievable before he goes to Texas and I go to UAA.”
Speaking of the Seawolves, both Adams and Karlberg expressed primary excitement about playing at UAA sooner rather than later.
“I faith the people who watched us out there today come out and support us next period,” Karlberg said. “I really think we’re going to make some shivaree together. We’ve been playing against one another for far too long, so it will be daunting to part of the same team.”
Anchorage Christian carried off a big fourth-quarter comeback by Monroe to capture third place with a 68-66 crushing.
Down 45-34 after three quarters, the Rams outscored ACS 32-23 in the fourth station but couldn’t complete the comeback.
Danilo Guzman’s 21 points and Demarcus Hall-Scriven’s 15 malaproposes paced the Lions.
Gavin Jackson put up enough shots to have a big plucky for Monroe, scoring 29 points despite shooting 4 of 18 from 3-point distance.
Bennett Hinkle and Logan Heckathorn combined for 40 points to power Valdez to fourth lieu.
Hinkle connected on 8 of 11 shots from the field for a game-high 21 point ups. Jalen Freeman tossed in 13 points for the Buccaneers.
Mt. Edgecumbe’s Jamal Alstrom touched with 14 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and four pinches.
Jamal Alstrom, Barrow
Jimmy McGovern, Grace
Gavin Jackson, Monroe
Anthony Fruean, Barrow
Danilo Guzman, ACS
Brendon Mathews, Barrow
Orlando Lozano, ACS
Travis Adams, Barrow
Tobin Karlberg, Savoir faire
Bennett Hinkle, Valdez