Trinity’s Rage City connection came up clutch as Daishen Nix and Madit Mou of Anchorage combined for 38 points to help the Thunder from Las Vegas rally in the second half to knock off defending tournament champion Colony 65-58 in the first round.
Nix – the UCLA-bound point guard who before the game was presented a plaque to recognize his selection to the McDonald’s All-American Game – bounced back from a nightmare first half to put Trinity over the top.
A huge crowd packed the iconic West High gymnasium, with fans showing up in droves to see Nix play in person. They got to see only glimpses, but liked what they saw as he poured in 20 points in 19 minutes.
The 6-foot-5 guard was forced to sit out most of the second and third quarters with foul trouble. He sat on the bench clutching a towel, waiting to go back in.
When he finally did return late in the third quarter, he immediately made his presence felt by rifling a skip pass to Mou for a 3-pointer that got the Thunder rolling.
That triple kickstarted an 11-3 run to end the third quarter. During that run Nix also had a highlight-reel play when he blocked a shot at the rim and then took the ball coast to coast and converted an and-1 layup. Moments later he soared through the paint with a beautiful finger roll.
Early on, he struggled in his much-anticipated return to his hometown; his first game here in four years. He missed a dunk. He missed three free throws. And he was called for three fouls, his third coming early in the second half that forced him to the bench.
Led by Mou (18 points) and Jackson Pillich (18 points), Trinity weathered the storm without its best player and outscored Colony 23-19 in his absence.
Mou is also from Anchorage and his sister currently plays for the West girls team.
He too shined in his homecoming, drilling 4-of-5 3-pointers and playing strong defense. Twice in the third quarter Mou pulled off a steal-and-layup sequence when points were hard to come by against a spirited Colony team looking to defend its title.
Colony last year under coach Tom Berg became just the fourth Alaska team to win the Classic in the tournament’s 22-year history. Berg’s boys looked poised for another win over another Outside team after knocking off St. Rita (IL) and Laredo (TX) last year.
Reigning all-tournament selection Patrick McMahon led the Knights with 19 points and, of course, he got in a few dunks. He hooked up with guard Jeremiah Hersrud on a beautiful alley-oop early in the fourth quarter that pulled Colony within 53-47.
>McMahon really showed himself to be an Alaska player-of-the-year candidate, carrying the Knights at times under the bright lights of the Classic.
But Mou and Pillich answered back – two 3s from Mou and four points from Pillich, including his own dunk. That pushed the lead to 63-53.
Before the game, Nix became the fourth Alaskan named to the McDonald’s All-American Game. The other three were Trajan Langdon in 1994, Carlos Boozer in 1999 and Mario Chalmers in 2005.
Trinity 14 11 23 17 – 65
Colony 17 12 12 17 – 58
Trinity – Nix 20, Glasgow 0, Lowery 3, Mou 18, Daniels 3, Njock 3, Pillich 18.
Colony – White 5, McMahon 19, Johnson 0, Spencer 10, Hull 0, Gatton 2, Hersrud 13, Baker 9.