Tie-breaker drops Nanook girls from first to third in Kotzebue
Girls varsity teams from Nome, Point Hope, Kotzebue and Houston met in Kotzebue last weekend for a four-way tournament. While all the northwestern teams came away with victories over Houston, none could assert their will over the rest of the field, and the Nanooks, Huskies, and Harpooners all finished with 2-1 records.
In the wins and losses merry-go-round, the Lady Nanooks got their second tournament victory against Kotzebue, but fell to Point Hope, who lost to the host Huskies. When the fog had lifted, the 2A Lady Harpooners were declared the tournament winner by a total points tie-breaker.
The most important victory for Nome over the weekend was their 45-41 showing against Kotzebue on Saturday. Senior Senora Ahmasuk hit five of six first half free throws, and got 12 of her team high 24 points before the break. The Nanooks carried a 24-19 lead into the locker room at intermission. Sophomore Kerry Ahmasuk hit two first-quarter three-point shots, while sophomore Taeler Brunette chipped in five points in the second quarter.
Senora’s nine third-quarter points matched the entire Huskies squad for the frame as the Nanooks extended their lead to six. Head coach Don Stiles says that his team’s leading scorer and captain fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter. The Huskies were clawing their way back late it the contest when Brunette hit two big free throws to secure the victory.
Kotzebue was led by Calia Sieh who scored 13 total points, with 11 coming in the second half. Ashley Ramoth chipped in 11 for the Huskies. Brunette was the Nanooks second leading scorer, finishing with nine. Kerry Ahmasuk chipped in eight.
The Nanooks lone blemish came at the hands of Point Hope in a 55-48 loss on Friday. Bridgett Oviok dropped four treys in the first quarter as the Harpooners jumped out to an early 20-16 lead. Stiles said although Point Hope extended that lead to 17, his team worked their way back to within a point with less than two minutes left on the clock.
Point Hope’s 11 three-pointers were the difference maker. Oviok finished the game with 18 points. Senora Ahmasuk was the game's high scorer as she put in 22. Junior Ivory Okleasik helped the Nanooks out with nine points.
Nome beat the Houston Hawks 38-36 in their first game of the tournament on Thursday. Senora Ahmasuk, who would later be voted to the tournament's All-Star team, led all Nanooks with 19 points. The weekend’s results brought the Nome girl’s overall season record to 8-8. They are 2-2 in Western Conference play.
Boys play in championship game
Boys teams from the same schools were also on hand in Kotzebue. The results from their bracket were quite murky until the conclusion of the final game. The Kotzebue boys entered the marquee, Saturday night matchup with the Nanooks undefeated with a 2-0 record. Nome had beaten Houston 56-54 on Thursday, but fallen to Point Hope 73-45 on Friday. They entered the deciding game with a 1-1 mark. Both the Harpooners and Hawks concluded the weekend with 1-2 records, so a Nome victory on Saturday would have left both the Huskies and Nanooks with 2-1 marks. Nome would have been the rightful tournament champs due to a head-to-head tie-breaker.
The Huskies, however, were able to keep all Nanook scorers under ten points as they cruised to a 59-33 victory. Kotzebue’s Bish Gallahorn had thirteen first-half points en route to 15 total, while teammate Harry Baldwin matched him as he connected on five three-pointers. Senior Nathan Tobuk led the Nanooks with nine points.
With junior Mikey Scott out sick, the Nanooks were out rebounded by the Huskies 35-27. Kotzebue was able to keep junior Ian Booth and sophomore Bobby Koezuna, who each had 19 points against Houston, to eight and three respectively. Overall the Nanooks shot 21 percent from the field against Kotzebue while connecting on only nine of 43 shots.
“He's a great shooter,” said Nanooks head coach Pat Callahan of Koezuna, who had been pressed in to action with the departure of Josh Bourdon from the team. “Teammates found him. Every time he’s open we want him to shoot.”
Booth was named to the Boys All-tournament Team. The Nanooks season record dropped to 3-13. They are 1-3 within the Western Conference.
Callahan hopes to have Scott back next weekend in Valdez. Both varsity squads will participate in the bracket-style Valdez Elks Basketball Tournament. The Nome boys will start the event with a game against Cordova. The Lady Nanooks will open with Nikiski. Teams from Grace Christian, Eielson, Kotzebue and Seward will also travel to the tournament.
Junior Huskies play at Beltz
As Nome’s varsity teams traveled north this weekend, the Kotzebue Junior Varsity boys came south to the Nome-Beltz gym for a series of games with Nome’s JV boys. The Kotzebue girls do not have junior varsity players.
Both the Nanooks and Husky squads were separated into A and B units, although some boys played on both. Kotzebue won all four contests. The score on Friday was 74-62. Saturday’s outcomes were 60-23, 49-34 and 76-58.
The Nanooks top individual scoring effort was turned in by Devon Otton who put in 29 points on Friday. Gareth Hansen had 20 on Saturday afternoon. Aaron Motis also scored in double figures over the two days. Players who scored nine in one game were Caleb Evatt, Joe Kinneen and Dawson Evans.
The junior varsity had goals for improvement in mind before their games. “We tried to play good defense, play at our pace, and not foul as much,” said Hansen.
“They were pretty tall,” said Otton after the game. “ We just need to box out and get rebounds.”
“I think there is a foundation there,” said Dan Sullivan, who has been one of the Nanooks assistant coaches for eight years. He said the Nome boys dug an early hole, and fell behind 19-2 in one of the games. That margin grew to a 30-point deficit. His team showed it’s spirit when, at one point, they closed the gap to just five points.
Sullivan emphasized that games at this level are developmentally based. To that end, on Thursday night both the home and visiting squads carried on the tradition of playing “scenarios.” This amounted to a cooperative practice in an empty gym. Coaches from the two squads came up with different playing situations for their teams. One example was the “eleven seconds on the clock, and your team is down by three” scenario. Sullivan says that the two teams took turns on offense and allowed for each of their players to work in the scenario. In all, the teams conducted seven to eight different situations.
Nome’s junior varsity boys and girls will host multiple teams from the region this coming weekend.
Girls JV and junior high
The Nome-Beltz junior varsity squad played an exhibition against a city league team. Jillian Stettenbenz led the Lady Nanooks with 10 points.
The Nome junior high boys played an intraquad game. Top scorers were Marcos Ornelos, with 25 points, Stephan Anderson with 18 points, and Joey Tocktoo with 16.