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Service boys basketball team survives furious late rally attempt by West in statement victory

Jan. 24—A big basketball matchup in the Cook Inlet Conference was shaping up to be a major letdown through the first three quarters on Tuesday night as Service led West Anchorage by as many as 20 points. However, what looked like a rout became a lot more interesting in the final eight minutes.

The Eagles managed to outscore the Cougars 19-16 in the quarter, but the Cougars were still able to hunker down and win 64-54, avenging their first loss of the season to an in-state opponent from late December. With the victory, Service moves up to second in the CIC standings behind top-ranked Bettye Davis East Anchorage.

"We're growing and are trying to learn how to close teams out, especially the No. 1 team in the state (East)," Service head coach Jocquis Sconiers said. "We did a good job of battling and figuring out how to end strong."

West was able to get within six points with just under three minutes left to play in the game.

"They were scrambling to get back in the game and wouldn't quit," Sconiers said. "I told those guys that they're not going to quit."

Service got clicking on offense early and didn't let up or allow West to adjust defensively by scheming up ways to put their players in position to succeed.

The Cougars had nine players score at least a bucket and three reach double figures. Junior Logan Zadra led the team with 15 points followed by sophomore Leyton Lockard with 13 that included 12 in the first half.

"We're really talented and have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things on a basketball court," Sconiers said. "Our bench is really deep so I know there are so many people I can put in the game at a given point and time."

After sweeping the Eagles in the regular season last year, the Cougars had dropped their previous two matchups with West. That included a game last season in the Region IV tournament with an at-large bid for the state tournament on the line as well as the game earlier this season.

"We're going to see those guys down the line," Sconiers said. "They're a great basketball team with a lot of great athletes so it's just an honor to be able to play them."

In addition to having already faced West twice, Service has gone up against some of the other top contenders in the conference thus far. In January alone, they beat defending region champion Dimond by 31 points and narrowly lost to defending 4A state champion East last week 41-37.

"It's a great start and we're getting ready to head to Fairbanks for four straight games against No. 5 Thunder Mountain, No. 4 West Valley, and they're just as good as all these (CIC) teams," Sconiers. "We're looking to do some good things. We've just got make sure we take care of business at home."

The majority of Service's non-tournament games down the stretch will be on the road with just four home games in their final dozen.

"We'll get challenged at the very end but we'll be battle-tested," Sconiers said. "Our schedule is built to have challenges as we try to get to a state playoff berth."