After a disastrous loss to Grace Christian in the championship semifinals of the 2014 3A State basketball tournament the Bethel Warriors’ varsity boys were determined to prove themselves worthy opponents to the private schools that have reigned supreme as of late atop the 3A classification.
Bethel would find themselves once again matched up against a private school- the Lions of Anchorage Christian, in the 3rd place game on Saturday played at UAA.
In the opening quarter Bethel was able to get Taylor Hoffman back onto the floor, something they hadn’t done since he suffered an ankle injury in Thursdays’ quarterfinal against Delta Junction. If Hoffman’s ability to change the game was not apparent before this game, it certainly was afterward. Compared to the Grace Christian game Bethel would find room to move, room to pass, and it was apparent that having another ball-handler on the floor was vital to the Warriors’ offense.
Bethel would find themselves locked into a tight game after the first quarter closed 16 to 13 in A.C.S.’ favor.
The Warriors would continue to battle back, but could never find the ticket to breaking away from A.C.S. as the two sides continued to trade buckets for two more quarters.
By the end of the third quarter it was apparent that these two teams were well matched, and for the second time in the game Bethel would trail by just a single bucket at a quarter’s end. At the end of the third A.C.S. led 50-47.
The fourth quarter was not Bethel’s finest of the tournament, and the end-result became apparent to Coach Cronk and the Warrior faithful when the bench cleared and the starters sat down for the remainder of their final game of the year. For two of those starters, Seniors Eto Naneng and Brett Smith, it would be the last time they would set foot on a court- or butt on a bench- in the Warrior blue and yellow. The final buzzer would sound and A.C.S. would claim their third-place prize, winning by a final score of 70 to 60.
Bethel’s Theodore Naneng led all scorers with 41 points.