Sharpshooting helps Colony girls into 4A state basketball semifinals

Mar. 21—Despite a 9:30 a.m. Wednesday tip-off at the Alaska 4A state girls basketball tournament, Colony guard Alycia Shelley skipped her normal morning eye-opener: a Lotus Energy Drink.

She clearly didn't need the boost.

Shelley, a junior, scored a game-high 17 points including five 3-pointers as top-seeded Colony cruised past North Pole 62-33 in the quarterfinals at Alaska Airlines Center.

"I'm definitely a morning person so I was ready," she said. "I was really ready."

The Knights got off to a quick start as a team, taking an 18-3 lead after the first quarter.

First-round games are split between the auxiliary court and main gym on Wednesday with both 3A and 4A tournaments going and Colony head coach Chandice Kelly said playing on the main court was beneficial.

"This is the first time in three years that we've got the first game on the big court," she said. "That's a huge advantage — to be able to get up and down with the depth perception and just be able to play on that court."

The higher ceilings and larger dimensions of the gym didn't bother Shelley, who hit 5-of-7 of her 3-point attempts.

"It doesn't really bother me," Shelley said "I just find it more exciting. It's brighter lights. It's really a great experience."

Kelly said she's been practicing her shot, even using a shooting machine to help maximize her time in the gym. Her Colony teammate Hallie Clark hit another 4-of-8 chances from beyond the arc and the Knights were 10-for-23 in total for an impressive 40%.

North Pole had its best run during the second quarter, outscoring Colony 15-12 to cut the Knights' lead to 30-18 at the half.

The Knights displayed a deep bench on Wednesday with eight players getting in the scoring column. Kelly said that when and how the Knights utilize their bench players will depend on Friday's semifinal opponent.

"It's really going to depend," she said. "Dimond is fast and Thunder (Mountain) is tall. It's going to depend on matchups."

Thunder Mountain topped Dimond 58-44 and will face off with Colony on Friday at 3:15 p.m.

Shelley added a game-high five assists. Clark finished with 14 and Tonya Karpow added 12 for Colony. Taimane Skipps was the leading scorer for North Pole with nine points.

While the offense was purring on Wednesday, Shelley said defense will be the key to reaching the team's biggest ambition — a 4A state title.

"We definitely have to lock down on our defense," she said. "That's been our biggest struggle this year. We'll have to be ready for the person (each of us is guarding) and get ready for help defense."

In other action in Wednesday's 4A girls first round, Wasilla topped Bartlett 47-22



Image 1 of 21

Colony's Ella Hopkins passes from the inside. Thunder Mountain faced Colony in the girls 4A semifinals on March 22, 2024, in Anchorage. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Thunder Mountain stuns West Valley in overtime

Thunder Mountain trailed West Valley for virtually the entire game, crawling back late in regulation to take a brief lead and force overtime.

In the overtime period, the Falcons and senior point guard Samuel Lockhart kept coming. Lockhart's driving basket with 17.2 remaining in overtime put Thunder Mountain up 52-51. He was fouled and his free throw made it 53-51 as West Valley was unable to get a good shot up as time expired.

"Just believing in each other and trusting the process," Lockhart said of the comeback. "We've had a lot of fourth-quarter comebacks. We've been here before and we've been down worse. It was just trusting in each other that we're going to come back and we aren't done yet."

The Falcons trailed 39-30 heading into the fourth quarter but stormed back, with the help of Lockhart's offense. He finished with a game-high 28 points and sunk 9 of 10 free throws, many in crunch time. Lockhart said head coach John Blasco has players shoot 50 free throws each practice. That practice came in handy. He made a pair to tie the game at 44-44 with 1:10 remaining in regulation and two more in the final 45 seconds to put Thunder Mountain up 46-44.

"It's just a lot of hours in the gym shooting free throws," he said. "Makes it a lot easier out here in front of these crowds."

West Valley's Leyton Nield was nearly Lockhart's equal for much of the game. The lefty scored 24 and was super efficient making 8 of 11 field goals and 8 of 10 free throws.

As a No. 6 seed topping a No. 3 seed, the win for the Falcons was considered a bit of an upset. West Valley had topped the team from Juneau 62-51 during the regular season.

"We thought this was our game to win," he said. "We played them earlier in the season and were up in the fourth quarter and ended up blowing the lead."

In other first-round action, Service topped Wasilla 55-41 to move into the semis on Friday.

4A Girls Basketball Tournament

At Alaska Airlines Center



Colony 62, North Pole 33

Wasilla 47, Bartlett 22

Thunder Mountain 58, Dimond 44

Mountain City Christian Academy 59, Service 54



Service vs. Bartlett, 9:30 a.m. (Auxiliary gym)

North Pole vs. Dimond, 11 a.m. (Main court)


Colony vs. Thunder Mountain, 3:15 p.m. (Main court)

MCCA vs. Wasilla, 4:45 p.m. (Main court)


4th/6th, 9 a.m. (Auxiliary gym)

3rd/5th, 9 a.m. (Main court)

Championship, 5:30 p.m. (Main court)

4A Boys Basketball Tournament

At Alaska Airlines Center



Service 55, Wasilla 41

Thunder Mountain 53, West Valley 51 (OT)

Bettye Davis East 55, Palmer 36

Monroe Catholic 53, West Anchorage 43



Wasilla vs. Loser West Valley, 12:30 p.m. (Main court)

Palmer vs. Loser West Anchorage, 12:30 p.m. (Auxiliary gym)


Service vs. Thunder Mountain, 6:15 p.m. (Main court)

Bettye Davis East vs. Monroe Catholic, 7:45 p.m. (Main court)


4th/6th place, 10:30 a.m. (Auxiliary gym)

3rd/5th, 10:30 a.m. (Main court)

Championship, 7:30 p.m. (Main court)