Thunder Mountain senior Jaya Carandang (3) scores past South Anchorage defenders Reese Gebauer (11) and Isa Costadasily (32) during the Falcons 73-37 win over the Wolverines on Thursday at the Thunderdome. (Klas Stolpe / For the Juneau Empire)
A well-tuned machine is only as good as its parts and Thunder Mountain High School sophomore guard Cambry Lockhart was definitely one of the pistons that ignited the Falcons’ 73-37 win over the South Anchorage Wolverines on Thursday at the Thunderdome.
“I think we know how to play our game,” Lockhart said. “When we play like that there are going to be good outcomes. I think we trust each other enough and we stick to our game and don’t really have that mindset of who we are playing, we just play our game.”
Lockhart flew from the first tip and assisted on a score by junior Kerra Baxter, connected on her own layup, was fouled on another scoring shot and hit the free-throw, assisted on a score by junior Cailynn Baxter, and after a steal and score by Jaya Carandang, Lockhart found space past the arch for nothing but net and a 14-9 lead.
“There is a good sophomore class in the state of Alaska,” Thunder Mountain coach Andy Lee said. “But right now you couldn’t convince me that there is a better sophomore than Cambry.”
Coasting into their home gym with a perfect 9-0 road record the Falcons showed fans what they have missed — an uptempo team that plays tough man-to-man, battles on the glass, and hits from all angles around the key.
“I think it is really fun, exciting, it feels really good to have a homecourt advantage again,” Falcons senior Mikah Carandang said. “It feels really nice having the fans to support us.”
After a rebound basket by Jenna Dobson, Carandang hit her own shot past the arch for a 19-9 lead after eight minutes of action.
The Falcons continued the onslaught in the second quarter as senior Ashlyn Gates hit inside, C. Baxter found a rebound score, K. Baxter had a steal and score, Lockhart followed with a steal and score and Lockhart buried her second shot past the arch for a 30-13 advantage with 4:47 remaining in the stanza.
The Falcons took a 38-15 lead into the break and would not be threatened in the second half as their size and quickness began to wear the visitors down.
“I think we rebound a lot,” Lockhart said of the Falcons team. “We focus a lot on that. That has kind of been our key for our past games. They were aggressive so we had to come out strong and work hard on defense and rebounding to get our offense.”
TMHS was up 46-15 with 4:33 remaining in the third quarter when Lockhart had a steal for a score, notched another basket, senior Mikah Carandang scored and added a free throw, and K. Baxter hit back-to-back baskets for a 57-25 advantage at the stanza’s end.
“We have all the chemistry within the team, and we trust each other,” Jaya Carandang said. “We all have been used to playing all together. Having that trust is really the key.”
After three straight periods of 19-point outbursts the Falcons would coast through the fourth quarter with 16 points, still outscoring the Wolverines by four points.
“It is always tough to come down here, like the evil empire coming down,” South coach Larry Wilson said. “They are a pretty good team. They play together, they work really hard on defense and we just didn’t match their energy tonight.”
Lockhart and C. Baxter scored 17 apiece for the Falcons, K. Baxter added 11, J. Carandang seven, M. Carandang and Gates six apiece, senior Kaidree Hartman five, senior Jenna Dobson and senior Kara Strong two apiece.
Thunder Mountain hit 9-15 at the charity stripe, South Anchorage 5-9.
Makaylen King led the Wolverines with 14 points, Skylar Morris and Karolina Rzeszut six apiece, Niveah Hearuell and Meadow Morris four apiece, Kiya White two and Isa Costadasily one.
“To the casual fan we probably looked like a juggernaut at times,” TMHS coach Andy Lee said. “But through a coach’s eyes we have a lot of holes. The exciting thing is that they are holes we are capable of filling. We have developed some depth and we need to pay attention to some details to get to the next level.”
Lee noted that level is one obtained now by schools such as Colony, Wasilla and Anchorage Christian.
“Until we fill in those holes I am not comfortable saying we are in that class yet,” Lee said. “We are certainly on the right trajectory. I don’t think we have rebounded to our potential yet and we have a very good half-court offense, we simply haven’t had an opportunity to run it because our transition game is very strong…and I like the consistency of our effort from players one through 12.”
The uptempo Falcons are definitely a speedy force to be reckoned with, not just on the road, but now at home as well.
“There is a difference between being shifty and sprints,” Lockhart said.
The Falcons are a lot of each.
TMHS will play at Juneau-Douglas on Tuesday and travel to Ketchikan Jan. 26-27
Thunder Mountain sophomore Cambry Lockhart (1) scores over South Anchorage’s Isa Costadasily (32) during the Falcons 73-37 win over the Wolverines on Thursday at the Thunderdome. (Klas Stolpe / For the Juneau Empire)
Thunder Mountain junior Kerra Baxter passes around South Anchorage defenders Karolina Rzeszut (14) and Isa Costadasily (32) during the Falcons 73-37 win over the Wolverines on Thursday at the Thunderdome. (Klas Stolpe / For the Juneau Empire)