Lady Warriors lose by 1 point in nail-biter finish
The Bethel Lady Warriors were ahead of the Valdez Lady Buccaneers for the first three quarters, but the Lady Buccaneers caught up in the fourth quarter when they scored 20 points. Valdez’s Destiny Day made some last-second free throws. With 0.4 seconds left after a foul, that gave the Lady Warriors a small window to try to pull off the upset.
In the end, the Lady Buccaneers won 42-41 and the Lady Warriors got second place at the Donlin Gold Invitational Basketball Tournament.
Valdez’s head coach, Carey Wade, was prepared for this moment.
“We came in knowing that we were very evenly matched and it would be tight all the way through, so we just came in hoping to give our best effort and hoping we ended up on top. We're very evenly matched,” Wade said.
Wade also said that the team is pretty young with only one senior, the rest are sophomores or freshmen, but that she is pleased with their development.
“My four sophomores, we call them the Fab Four: Destiny Day, Lola Compahos, Riley Wade, Kelli Malcuit. They bring it and they're young, but they are hungry for it. So I would watch for them for sure. We're still making some mental errors and that kind of thing, but we're just kind of working through it and learning the game a little bit,” Wade said.
Wade thinks that the close game against the Lady Warriors can only raise her team's confidence and resilience.
“I think just the fact that we came back in the fourth quarter and overcame, just the mental part of that, that was big for them. They haven't done that yet. They haven't been hungry for it like that. Yeah. So that's, that's gonna be big for us, I think. I think we might have turned a corner, so I'm pretty excited,” Wade said.
Regina Lieb is the head coach of the Lady Warriors basketball team. She knew that the tournament would be tough.
“There was definite ups and downs, definite moments when we were pushed. And, you know, moments when we work really well together. Homer came out really, really strong when we saw them last week. And, you know, it was a different outcome. We won by 10 last week, but this weekend, you know, we fell short. Unalakleet plays tough all the time. They come out here, they're scrappy, they can shoot, they work hard. Just staying with Valdez today,” Lieb said.
With only two more home weekends left in the season, Lieb acknowledged the importance of playing in front of the hometown crowd and what it means for the team.
“There is nothing like playing in front of the Bethel crowd. It gives us so much pride to walk out here and have all the people come from the community. And we love coming out here, you know. We have so much pride walking out here and playing in front of the community. We have so many supporters, people who love these kids and come out every time we're here. And it's just an amazing atmosphere,” Lieb said.
The second-place finish in the tournament didn’t disappoint Lieb. She said that the team has heart and will grow from the experience.
“They stick together, their motto is 'team together,' you know, and they rise to the level that they want to, you know, every week we set a new bar. Every game we set new standards and new goals, and they always rise to it and they know what they need to do. We're in it. This is a marathon. You know, it's not a sprint, we're, this is our, these are our steps towards March,” Lieb said.
With this loss, the current record for the Lady Warriors is 4-6. The team travels to Barrow this week to face the Whalers on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27.