FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Monroe Catholic basketball programs made a point to protect their home court during the 11th annual Mt. McKinley Bank Holiday Classic at Boileau Hall over the weekend. The Rams did just that, as the boy's and girl's teams combined to go 6-0, sweeping the Holiday Classic Championships with double-digit victories on Saturday.
The Monroe boys came scorching out of the gates in their 65-43 win over the Grace Christian Grizzlies in the championship game Saturday night. The Rams filled up the basket with 24 first quarter points, led by senior Gabe Silas' four three-pointers. The Rams kept their foot on the gas with 40 second half points en route to the Holiday Classic title. Freshman Malachi Bradley dropped a game-high 23 points, while junior Quinn McHenry provided 14 points. Bradley and Silas were named to the all-tournament team, while McHenry was tabbed the tournament MVP after averaging 16.3 points per game throughout the weekend.
"There came a time that everybody started to work together, we figured out what we wanted to do," McHenry said after Saturday's victory. "This is our house, we wanted to protect the floor and that's what we went out and did. We just decided that we're sick of starting out sluggish, we were sick of starting off slow and we just decided we're just going to go out there and take what's ours right away."
A tough break for the Rams came in the third quarter, when Silas injured his shoulder and had to exit the game. The senior had 14 points before exiting the game, and it looks like they will be without one of their leading scorers for some time.
A key to Monroe's early season success has been the addition of freshman Malachi Bradley. A rare advantage Bradley has over other freshmen, is he already has a year of high school experience under his belt, when he played for 1A Tanana last season, leading the team in scoring as just an 8th grader.
"My whole life, I just knew I had to be the main guy and do like a lot of things. Working with all the new teammates, it's good to have other good teammates instead of being the one doing everything." Bradley said of his status with the new team.
The Rams advanced the championship game after two strong performances to open the tournament. Monroe defeated the defending 4A State Champion Ketchikan Kings 84-78 on Thursday, before taking down the 2019 3A State Runner-up Valdez Buccaneers 81-60 on Friday.
The Monroe girls turned heads this weekend with a perfect 3-0 performance. Their dominance was on full display in Saturday's championship game against the Grizzlies, when the Rams did not allow a single point the first quarter; not one. This set the tone for the rest of the game, where they defeated Grace Christian 37-24. Katie Bast, the tournament MVP, scored a team-high 11 points in the win, while sophomore Shelby Eidenmiller and senior Grace Hodges were named to the all-tournament team.
"I want to see them rewarded for putting up with me and for what I ask of them," Rams head coach Bob Burcell said after Saturday's game. "I've told them that this community here, and this is a community that I'm coaching in, that they're ready for them to be good again. It's been awhile, you have so many people pulling for you. I'm excited for them, I'm excited for their folks, and I'm excited for the community."
The Rams took care of business all weekend, defeating Ketchikan 44-39 on Thursday, before overpowering Aurora Conference foe, the Bucs, 52-43 on Friday.
"I came in here realistically looking for two wins. Two wins would have been great, but to get three is exciting." Burcell added.
Both the Monroe teams will have some time off before hosting the Hutchison Hawks on January 14. The boys tip-off at 6 p.m., while the girls are scheduled for 7:30 at Boileau Hall.