Thunder Mountain’s Iayanah Brewer, left, and teammate Tasi Fenumiai, right, battle for the ball against North Pole’s Alex Hodal, front, and Claire Richmond at TMHS on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain’s Iayanah Brewer, left, and teammate Tasi Fenumiai, right, battle for the ball against North Pole’s Alex Hodal, front, and Claire Richmond at TMHS on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Falcons burst into season with blowout

Thunder Mountain holds North Pole to one point in first quarter

The Thunder Mountain High School girls basketball team pulled a rare first-quarter stunt in their season opener against North Pole.

With about two minutes left in the frame on Thursday night at TMHS, coach Chandler Christensen emptied her bench. It was the right move to make — her team had already built a 20-point lead and showed no signs of slowing down. Thunder Mountain went on to win 57-39, marking their second win in as many years over the Interior school. TMHS beat North Pole 49-45 on the road last December.

Basketball Preview: Preparation, experience could be difference makers for TMHS girls

Senior Charlee Lewis led the Falcons with 12 points on 6 of 8 foul shooting. Lewis’ two free throws started a 27-1 first-quarter onslaught which saw the Patriots turn the ball over on almost every possession.

“I turned to (assistant coach) Arnold (Ibias) at the end of the first quarter and said, ‘That might be more points than we scored in the first game last season,’” Christensen said. “What we’re looking to see now moving forward is, we’ve got to keep the intensity up even when we take the (full-court) press off. We took the press off, we stopped looking to push the ball up.”

Thunder Mountain swarmed North Pole’s guards the minute they took the ball out of bounds. When North Pole senior Megan Grant and others tried to pass the ball out of trouble, it would be quickly intercepted and taken back the other way.

“We didn’t expect too much pressure, so we were a little rattled,” Grant said. “We weren’t coming to the ball as we should.”

Lewis finished the first quarter with nine points and Nina Fenumiai added eight. Fenumiai got her own rebound and put the team up 18-0 midway through the quarter, prompting North Pole coach Robert Borda to call timeout. Freshman Maryn Long broke the Patriots’ scoring drought with a free throw shortly thereafter.

“We just tried to keep thinking about the defense, just keep trying to get steals,” Lewis said. “We didn’t really think of the score until we sat down at the first timeout.”

Thunder Mountain relaxed its full-court press late in the second quarter, and led 35-11 at halftime.

Junior Breeauna O’Rear converted the Patriots’ first field goal with 4:30 left in the second quarter. Prior to that point, all of North Pole’s points were off free throws.

Freshman Claire Richmond scored all of her 17 points in the second half for the Patriots. O’Rear finished with 16 points.

The TMHS girls and boys teams now hit the road for nonconference games against Sitka. The girls team was 0-2 against the Lady Wolves last season, losing by double digits both times, while the boys team went 1-0.

The TMHS girls play at home next Jan. 11-12 against Colony.


• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.


Thunder Mountain’s Mary Neal Garcia falls and is called for a foul against North Pole’s Laura Donovan at TMHS on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Thunder Mountain’s Mary Neal Garcia falls and is called for a foul against North Pole’s Laura Donovan at TMHS on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

North Pole’s Megan Grant, left, knocks the ball away from Thunder Mountain’s Tazdi Hauck at TMHS on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

North Pole’s Megan Grant, left, knocks the ball away from Thunder Mountain’s Tazdi Hauck at TMHS on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in Sports

Thomas Waerner, of Norway, celebrates in Nome his win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Waerner is still waiting to return to his home in Norway. Waerner and his 16 dogs have been stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions and flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus pandemic. (Marc Lester | Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)
Virus strands Norway racer in Alaska after Iditarod win

Man and 16 dogs been stranded in Alaska by travel restrictions and flight cancellations.

JDHS baseball coaches bid farewell to seniors

We will never know how good we would have been. I do know that we would have worked hard all year

Sosan Monsef hands off the baton to teammate Sadie Tuckwood during the 2018 Alaska Track and Field State Championships. (Courtesy Photo | For JDHS Track & Field)
JDHS track and field coaches bid farewell to seniors

The 2020 Track & Field season was looking to be one for the record books.

TMHS baseball coaches bid farewell to seniors

Unfortunately, these fine young men will never get to know what it… Continue reading

JDHS boys soccer coaches bid farewell to seniors

These seniors had a great run during their years playing soccer at JDHS.

TMHS softball coaches bid farewell to seniors

The Falcon softball team and coaching staff wishes the best to our five graduating seniors

JDHS softball coaches bid farewell to seniors

We were looking forward to having a successful season with our four seniors leading our team.

Eva Goering signs her committement to play college soccer for North Idaho College. (Courtesy photo | Heidi Johnson)
Double trouble: Two JDHS soccer players headed to Idaho together

They’ve been playing together for a decade.

Braden Jenkins has committed to playing college basketball at Luther College. (Courtesy photo | John Blasco)
Thunder Mountain trio signs to play college basketball

The last time three players signed in one year was 2014.

Courtesy Photo | Eldred Rock Lighthouse Preservation Association
                                A fundraiser run benefiting a nonprofit focused on preserving and protecting Eldred Rock Lighthouse, seen in this photo, will be a virtual event this year. Runners can complete a course located on Pioneer Road on Douglas at any time April 12-18 and submit their results electronically.
Lighthouse-protecting nonprofit isn’t running out of fundraising ideas

With virtually every other event canceled or postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic,… Continue reading