Big games from seniors Gregory Trefon and Tyler Anelon helped carry the Newhalen boys basketball team to its first state title Wednesday at the Sullivan Arena, a fast-paced 91-79 victory over Golovin.
"A team always goes with its senior leadership, and we've had strong senior leadership," Newhalen coach Bob Rychnovsky said.
The win gave Newhalen the sweep of Class 1A title games, with the girls' team taking its first title earlier Wednesday.
Last night, I couldn't sleep that much," Trefon said. "I was nervous for both us and the girls.
Trefon scored a team-high 26 points to go with nine rebounds, and Anelon racked a double-double with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Sophomore Jonathan Tretikoff pitched in 23 points for the Malamutes, doing most of his damage on five first-half 3-pointers.
"I sparked the team and brought us back to the game," Tretikoff said. "I just had fun and played with my heart."
Four of Tretikoff's 3-pointers came in the first quarter, with his fourth coming at the buzzer to give Newhalen a 21-19 lead through one period. The Malamutes trailed by as much as seven in the first period, but never trailed again after Tretikoff's trey.
"We rode defense all the way through," Rychnovsky said. "We put a lot of pressure on their guards."
Golovin's guards continually ran the floor at a fast pace and attacked the rim. Junior John Peterson finished with a game-high 28 points and sophomore Casey Sherman hit for 27.
"I feel like we should have won that one, but just got frustrated," Sherman said.
While Golovin was making its first appearance in a state title game, Newhalen was making its third in four years and fifth overall. Anelon, having played in the state tournament for four straight seasons, was present for the team's last two runner-up finishes, the most recent coming last year. Anelon's emotions ran high after Wednesday's win, tears streaming down his face.
"It's unexplainable," he said. "I was so hungry for it."
If it wasn't for Anelon nailing a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in the Aleutian Chain Conference championship game earlier this month, the Malamutes wouldn't have been in this week's state tournament.
Anelon said he drilled a trey with about two seconds remaining and gave his team a 69-68 victory in the title game, claiming the only available state bid from the Aleutian Chain Conference.
"He's a wonderful young man," Rychnovsky said. "I haven't seen anyone dominate 1A ball the way he has. He'll do anything."
Anelon did a little bit of everything Wednesday, hitting two 3-pointers, leading his team in free throws made and attempted, dishing four assists and making two steals. Each time Golovin made a run in the second half, it seemed Anelon made a big rebound or corralled a loose ball to help the Malamutes extend their lead back to double digits.
Newhalen continually found gaping holes in the Golovin defense throughout the second half. When Anelon wasn't driving for layups, Trefon was. Trefon fouled out in the game's closing minutes, after the Malamutes had the game well in hand. He exited to loud applause from a small, but rowdy Newhalen crowd.
"It's really kind of emotional," he said. "It feels great."
Reach Jeremy Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4335.
Newhalen (91) -- Cobb 7, Tretikoff 23, T. Anelon 21, Grindle 4, Trefon 26, M. Anelon 10.
Golovin (79) -- Sherman 27, Ningeulook 2, Olson 1, Ione 10, Amaktoolik 11, Peterson 28.
Newhalen 21 28 12 30 -- 91
Golovin 19 17 15 28 -- 79