In middle school, Daishen Nix and Isaiah Moses spent endless hours on basketball courts in Anchorage helping each other work on their game. Then they went different directions in high school and figured they’d probably never face off in a high school game.
But they got their wish in the Alaska Airlines Classic.
After a four-year wait, Nix and Moses squared off in the tournament title game and the two Anchorage players put on a show in front of a sellout crowd of 3,500 fans at West High.
Nix (21 points) claimed the trophy after Trinity knocked off previously undefeated Dimond 70-63, but Moses claimed the spotlight with a 42-point performance that earned him Classic MVP honors.
It was a battle between Alaska’s player-of-the-year favorite and a McDonald’s All-American, two local products that brought out fans in droves. There was a buzz in the air, an excitement that had been brewing all weekend in anticipation of this matchup.
Early on, Nix – a 6-foot-5 guard headed to UCLA – spearheaded a 19-0 run in the first quarter. He had a hand in 11 of those points with seven points and two assists.
Moses hadn’t even scored at that point, halfway through the first quarter.
Oh, but that would change.
Moses – a 6-foot guard headed to UAA – pumped in Dimond’s next 11 points as he drove the lane like a race car, zig-zagging around defenders on his way to the cup. He single-handedly pulled the Lynx within 25-16.
Dimond kept riding that momentum and clawed back to 30-29 on a pair of free throws from Jaren Carle (11 points). Suddenly, we had a game. The crowd’s energy grew a little more.
Nix’s driving layup ended the first half with Trinity ahead 38-34.
He almost got a chance to drive away with a new car as his name was drawn for a halftime contest. When it was announced he would not get to attempt the half-court shot for the new ride, the crowd booed. The person picked didn’t make the shot.
Moses didn’t miss many shots in the second half, carving up the Trinity defense like a holiday ham. Moses was hard to handle as he zoomed by defenders and around them for layups, including one when he danced around the 6-foot-8 Jan Madi Njock before putting up a shot while falling to the court. Count it, plus the foul.
That three-point play pulled Dimond within 44-43 and moments later he gave Dimond its first lead since 5-0 at 47-46. It wouldn’t last as the lead bounced back and forth until Jackson Pillich (19 points) put Trinity ahead for good at 56-54.
Nix, who avoided foul trouble and looked more relaxed compared to his first two tournament games, put the game away with some Pac-12-ready skills.
He jammed a two-handed flush off an offensive rebound in traffic and then had a blow-by drive for an easy two that made the score 64-57.
Yet even then, Moses kept it interesting with back-to-back 3-pointers to get the Lynx within 66-63. Trinity closed it out at the free-throw line, with Nix putting the finishing touches on a triumphant homecoming.
Trinity 23 15 12 20 – 70
Dimond 9 25 15 14 – 63
Trinity – Nix 21, Glasgow 2, Lowery 4, Mou 0, Daniels 8, Njock 16, Pillich 19.
Dimond – Ivanoff 0, Carle 11, Moses 42, Bland 0, Casey 0, Jenkins 2, Grant 8, Lena 0, Dobbins 0.