Chalmers, Hebert-Truax join Alaska Sports Hall of Fame

bbragg@adn.comDecember 9, 2013 

Two basketball players -- one a two-time NBA champion, the other a woman whose stellar playing career is rivaled by her outstanding coaching career -- are the latest inductees in the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

Mario Chalmers, one of only a handful of people to win championships in high school, college and the NBA, and Jeannie Hebert-Truax, who followed her record-setting career at the University of Miami by building a juggernaut at Wasilla High, headline the Class of 2014.

Also gaining entrance:

• The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, which in 30 years has forged a reputation as a riveting, arduous test of dogs and mushers.

• The UAA men's basketball team's upset of Michigan in 1988, a 70-66 neutral-court victory against a Wolverines team that went on to win the NCAA tournament that season and sent numerous players to the NBA.

The four selections represent the eighth group of inductees to the Hall of Fame, which relies in part on a public vote to pick members.

Chalmers and Hebert-Truax join a list of 27 individuals in the Hall of Fame. The Quest is the eighth event honored and UAA's upset of Michigan is the 12th moment.

The annual induction classes are deliberately small, Hall of Fame executive director Harlow Robinson said.

"We want this group to be very elite," he said. "It's not the Hall of the very, very good."

elite hoop stars

Chalmers and Hebert-Truax rank among basketball's elite at any level.

Chalmers is a guard for the Miami Heat, winners of the last two NBA championships.

"It's a honor to go out and rep Alaska every night," Chalmers said in a tweet to the Hall of Fame.

Chalmers gained fame as Super Mario, the guy who sank the pivotal 3-point shot with time running out in the 2008 NCAA championship game, forcing overtime and helping Kansas to victory over a Derrick Rose-led Memphis team. Kansas retired his No. 15 jersey earlier this year.

In high school, Chalmers was a three-time Alaska Player of the Year who led the Bartlett Golden Bears to two state titles.

Two decades before Chalmers made an impact playing hoops in Miami, Hebert-Truax turned in a brilliant career with the University of Miami, where she was a record-setting guard from 1988-92. She remains one of the school's all-time best, ranking second in career assists (694), third in points (1,766) and fifth in steals (237).

A resident of Tok until she was 14, Hebert-Truax was standout high school athlete at North Pole and Monroe. She led Monroe to state basketball championship as a junior and senior and also helped the Rams to a state volleyball championship.

She began teaching at Wasilla in 1994 and has led the Warriors to four Class 4A state championships. In March, she and the Warriors won a third straight state title, just the second girls team in state history to win three in a row.

Chalmers and Hebert-Truax bring the total of basketball players in the Hall of Fame to six. Others are Trajan Langdon of Anchorage, Carlos Boozer of Juneau, Wally Leask of Metlakatla and Herb Didrickson of Sitka. Chuck White, who coached at East and West, is the only other basketball coach in the Hall of Fame.

upset for the ages

Basketball yielded a third selection in the newest class of inductees -- UAA's stunning upset over second-ranked Michigan in December 1988.

The game is frequently overlooked in conversations about the biggest upsets in college basketball history, a list that often leads with Chaminade's 1983 victory over top-ranked Virginia. In some ways, UAA's upset of Michigan was bigger -- it happened on a neutral court during the Utah Holiday Classic, whereas Chaminade's came on its home court in Honolulu.

Michigan, coached by Bill Frieder, had Glen Rice, Rumeal Robinson, Terry Mills and a whole lot more talent. At the end of the season, the Wolverines were crowned NCAA champions.

UAA, coached by Ron Abegglen, had several players who had helped the Seawolves to the NCAA Division II championship game the season before (they Seawolves lost to UMass-Lowell). Against Michigan, Michael Johnson scored 20 points, Todd Fisher scored 18 and Ron Fischer added 16.

Michigan was 11-0 and outscoring opponents by an average of 33 points per game coming into the game in Salt Lake City.

As moments go, few Alaskans witnessed this one. Most heard about it the next day, including UAA athletic director Ron Petro, who was in Tokyo with the school's hockey team.

"Holy Jesus," he said. "That's unbelievable."

long, hard quest

The Yukon Quest joins the Iditarod as one of eight enshrined events. As it heads into its 31st running, the race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse is no longer "Alaska's other long-distance sled-dog race."

The 1,000-mile Quest is a race of attrition, heroics, surprises and danger. Once considered the little brother to the more famous Iditarod, it has earned its own fans and fame over the years, producing champions like Lance Mackey, heroes like Brent Sass and transfixing fans with tales of wicked weather, notorious mountain passes and long, lonely runs between checkpoints.

"The race got its start in the summer of 1983 when two pressmen from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner -- "one who was a musher and one who didn't like dogs," said selection panel chairman Bob Eley of Fairbanks -- started dreaming up a race from Fairbanks to Circle City.

"By the time the night was over," Eley said, "they were on the phone talking to someone in Whitehorse."

Their idea had grown from a 150-mile race to a 1,000-mile race across trails used in the Klondike Gold Rush.

Selections for the Hall of Fame were made by a nine-member panel, with the public vote counting as a 10th ballot. Sunday's selection meeting was three hours of robust discussion and difficult voting, said Eley, chairman of the selection panel.

"Even when you were done with your ballot, you wanted another one so you could write down more names," he said.

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335. She is a member of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame selection panel.

Class of 2014

PEOPLE

• Mario Chalmers

• Jeannie Hebert-Truax

EVENT

• Yukon Quest

MOMENTS

• UAA men's basketball team's 1988 upset of No. 2 Michigan

Class of 2013

PEOPLE

• Herb Didrickson

• Buck Nystrom

EVENT

• Equinox Marathon

MOMENTS

• Chris Clark's Olympic Marathon Trial victory

• Les Anderson's world record king salmon

Class of 2012

PEOPLE

• Bill Spencer

• Vern Tejas

EVENT

• Gold Medal Basketball Tournament

MOMENT

• UAF wins Top of the World Classic

Class of 2011

PEOPLE

• Kikkan Randall

• Chuck White

EVENT

• Mount Marathon

MOMENT

• Scott Gomez brings home the Stanley Cup

Class of 2010

PEOPLE

• Bradford Washburn

• Reggie Joule

• Lance Mackey

• Rosey Fletcher

EVENT

• Midnight Sun Baseball Game

MOMENTS

• Dick Mackey and Rick Swenson's Iditarod photo finish

• Elliot Sampson's upset cross country victory

Class of 2009

PEOPLE

• Norman Vaughn

• Hilary Lindh

• Nina Kemppel

• Red Boucher

• Wally Leask

EVENT

• World Eskimo-Indian Olympics

MOMENTS

• First winter ascent of Mount McKinley

• Doug Herron's record 800-meter run

Class of 2008

PEOPLE

• Joe Redington Sr.

• Carlos Boozer

• Mark Schlereth

• Trajan Langdon

• Rick Swenson

EVENT

• Great Alaska Shootout

MOMENT

• Tommy Moe's Olympic gold medal

Class of 2007

PEOPLE

• George Attla

• Scott Gomez

• Tommy Moe

• Susan Butcher

• Kristen Thorsness

EVENT

• Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

MOMENTS

• First ascent of Mount McKinley

• Libby Riddles' Iditarod victory

Alaska Hall of Fame

 

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