Thunder Mountain High School led for most of the game Tuesday night, but a surging Service High School clawed out a narrow lead late in the third quarter and, despite several late lead swaps, TMHS was on the losing end of a close contest.
The Cougars scraped by the Falcons 47-43, but TMHS led 27-20 at the half. Service did not pull ahead until reaching a one-point advantage with less than a minute left in the third quarter. The narrow lead was built on disruptive defense that limited Thunder Mountain to just five third-quarter points and 16 points total in the second half.
“It was unfortunate that we lost any sort of flow we had in the second half and we couldn’t get anything going,” said TMHS coach John Blasco, adding that 16 points is not an effective scoring half. “Service, they came hard at us, and they just finished in the second half.”
He said while Service played tough full-court defense in the first half, in the third quarter the Cougars began favoring a more aggressive 2-3 trap defense. The additional on-ball pressure stymied the Falcons and turnovers were frequent. However, Blasco said TMHS also made mistakes and failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
“Even with their pressure I think we had nine unforced turnovers,” Blasco said.
He said the early season, non-conference game offers a chance for TMHS to grow and noted it won’t be the last time the Falcons face consistent pressure all game.
There were some positive takeaways.
Junior forward James Polasky played well, putting up eight points and consistently securing rebounds.
“That team wasn’t small, they had a lot of height and athleticism, and James did a good job defending and on the boards for us,” Blasco said.
Junior guard Samuel Lockhart led TMHS in scoring with 14 total points, with half of them coming in the fourth quarter. Thomas Baxter also added 12 points. Service was led by freshman guard Leyton Lockard’s 15 points, which led all scorers.
Service High School is scheduled to play two more games in the capital city, but both are against Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé at JDHS. Both games were scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
The Falcons’ next chance to improve their 3-2 overall record will come next week.
“We’ve got a week of practice, then we head up to Anchorage next week for a very tough four-game stretch,” Blasco said.
That includes a game against West Anchorage High School and then three tournament games at Colony High School.