Nome Nanooks are state champions
By Peter Loewi
The Nome-Beltz High School Boys Basketball Team won their first 3A state championship, beating Grace Christian 49-47. Leading up to the championship game, the Nanooks defeated Hutchinson of Fairbanks 68-39 in opening round action at the Class 3A State Tournament. Finn Gregg led the Nanooks with 16 points and six steals. Dawson Schaeffer added 15 points, Caden Hanebuth added eight points and eight rebounds, four steals and four assists. Richard Cross made 3-4 from 3-point range on his way to 13 points.
The Nanooks advanced to the semi-final game against the Houston Hawks. Houston came into the game with a perfect 24-0 record. The Nanooks were led by Jade Greene’s 21 points. Finn Gregg added 16 points and five rebounds. Caden Hanebuth contributed 10 rebounds and five assists, for a winning score of 62-55.
The championship game on Saturday pitched Nome-Beltz against the number one seeded team from Grace Christian of Anchorage. Prior to this game Grace Christian was undefeated against Class 3A teams in this season.
Nome trailed early 9-1 and 12-3 before pulling to 28-21 at the half-time. With the game knotted up at 45-45, Finn Gregg was able to draw a charge, giving the ball back to Nome. Dawson Schaeffer hit a floater with 21 seconds left to give Nome-Beltz the lead for good. Richard Cross came up with a huge deflection at the 2.5 second mark to force Grace into a low percentage shot that missed at the buzzer.
During halftime of the championship game the NBHS Cheer squad joined forces with Bethel Cheer, Barrow Cheer and Valdez Cheer to perform a combined half-time cheer routine.
Nome ended its season with a 20-7 record, the Western Conference Championship and the Class 3A State Championship.
Nome’s last State Championship was won in 1983, the year before ASAA adopted the current classification system that divides schools by size in 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A divisions. Nome previously appeared in the State 3A Championship games in 1997, 2009 and 2010.
Overall, Nome High and Nome-Beltz have won a total of 10 State Championships over the years.
Nome has won the Class B championship in 1950/51, 1952/53, 1954/55, 1955/56, 1963/64 1964/65; the Class C championship in 1969/70; and the Small Schools championship in 1975/76 and 1982/83.
Upon the Nanook’s return to Nome on Sunday, Nomeites came out in force for an impromptu victory parade from the airport through town. The Nome Police Department, Fire and EMS vehicles, and state troopers led a long line of Nanook fans after meeting the team at the airport.
“I like coaching here because the town loves basketball so much,” Coach and NBHS Athletic Director Pat Callahan said. Callahan said he was “overwhelmed” and “still processing the awesome thing,” running on just a few hours of sleep in the last few days returning thousands of texts.
The Nanook 3A State Champions are Deacon Callahan, Richard Cross, Jade Greene, Finn Gregg, Caden Hanebuth, Ethan Hannon, Orson Hoogendorn, Joseph Martinson, Dawson Schaeffer and Jonathon Smith.
Cross, Gregg, and Schaeffer were on the All-Tournament Team.
Karis Evans, Raina McRae and Paris Hebel of the Nome Cheer Team won “Cheerleader of the Game” awards.
The cheer team is Karis Evans, Paris Hebel, Avery Immingan, Kara Johanson, Iryna Kadatska, Lauren Kingstrom, Addison Knudsen, Raina McRae, Cameron Minix and Brenna Scholten. Their head coach is Bailey Immingan-Carpenter and the assistant coach is Rebekah Albertson.
Evans and Hebel were on the All-Tournament Team.
Caden Hanebuth and Dawson Schaeffer have been selected to play in the 2022 Senior All-Star game. The game will take place at Grace Christian High School on April 16.
The Nome Common Council in their regular meeting on Monday applauded the Nanooks on their historic victory and reiterated the wish to celebrate the students’ achievements. Mayor John Handeland assured the community that a celebration is in the planning and that it will be announced as soon as particulars are worked out.