FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Lathrop Malemutes basketball program wrapped up their regular season slate with a Mid Alaska Conference doubleheader against the West Valley Wolfpack on Friday.
The Malemute girls honored a trio of seniors prior to their final game on Joe T. Court; Lianna Tuck, Aniya Tuck and 1,000-point career scorer Ella Roberts.
Lathrop outlasted the Wolfpack 49-47, anchored offensively by freshman TT Tagovailoa, who drained five three-pointers on her way to a game-high 20 points. Lianna Tuck contributed 11 points, while Roberts chipped in 10 in the victory, as the Malemutes conclude MAC play with a perfect 6-0 record.
"Well it's great, we practice really, really hard, we work really, really hard," Roberts said of the team. "We have come together as a team really well, our chemistry is great."
"I'm excited that I get to finish it with the same people I started it with, my seniors," Lianna Tuck said prior to the game. "I think it is going to be exciting, but at the same time really emotional because I don't think I am going to continue basketball after this, so I am going to make this last time count."
"Being that motivational player is a really, really big deal," Aniya Tuck said of her contributions. "Cheering your teammates on when they're down on the sidelines is very important, that is one of the things that shows in every game. Whenever somebody subs out, we stand up and cheer for them and that is a really big deal, it's a really big deal."
Sheridan Blasey had a team-high 13 points for the Wolfpack in the loss, while Hadley Blasey added 12.
Lathrop and West Valley now prepare for the MAC Tournament in North Pole March 13-14. The #1 Malemutes will get a bye, awaiting the winner of #2 West Valley and #3 North Pole on Friday at 3:30 p.m.
The Lathrop boys celebrated the careers of a pair of seniors ahead of their season finale, honoring Mehki Briggman and Jhon Rones. Rones finished with 13 points, while Tyriq Luke poured in 22, but it wasn't enough in Lathrop's 80-55 loss to the Wolfpack. West Valley saw a 20-point performance from senior Terrell Peter, while Cortarius Mingo and DeMarcus Davis each punched in 18.
The two seniors touched on the underclassmen they're leaving behind and the Lathrop basketball culture.
"At first it was hard because most of them were not listening but during the middle of the season they were all trying to listen and trying to actually win," Rones said of the underclassmen. "These kids are actually good and they're actually trying and I feel like they're going to be good in the future."
"I have looked up to a lot of guys like D'Angelo [Belton] and Chateau [Reed] and the guys before me, I pay my respect to them guys and just do it for them," Briggman said. "Jhon, my other senior, I always sit next to Jhon and talk about it is our senior year and we have to go crazy."
The Lathrop Malemutes will be the #2 seed in the MAC tournament this weekend, facing #3 North Pole at 5 p.m. The winner will face West Valley on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. in North Pole.
Eielson and Delta also had their senior games earlier this week. The Eielson boys sent off Christian Tucker, Toby Tristan, Patrick McIntosh, Jeriah Roberts and 1,000-point scorer Christian Bolten, while the girls graduate Georgia Able and Robin Baker. For Delta, their boys seniors include Drenen Magee, Jahfe Rodriguez and Jason Montes, who is also a part of the 1,000-point club, while the girls don't have any seniors to send off.