Hooper Bay junior Harold Hoelscher started emptying a bottle of water onto his coach's head court side at Sullivan Arena, and several teammates followed suit as the Warriors celebrated their school's first state basketball championship.
After being shut out in the first quarter, Hooper Bay roared back for a 51-28 victory over Metlakatla in the Class 2A boys final late Wednesday night.
"I'm so happy," Hoelscher said. "I dreamt of this as a little kid, as a 12-year old going to practice with dad."
The Warriors trailed 6-0 after one quarter, but with support from raucous cheering sections on both sides of the court, charged to an 18-14 halftime lead. When senior Albert Simon drilled a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to put Hooper Bay up 30-19, the crowd unleashed one of its loudest roars.
"That was an awesome, awesome moment," Simon said.
The Warriors continued to ride their momentum in the fourth quarter and when Hoelscher turned a steal into a layup with about 4 minutes left, Hooper Bay led 42-22 and Hoelscher felt a huge sense of relief.
"I just knew we were gonna win it," he said.
Class 2A player of the year Kacy Green led Hooper Bay with a game-high 22 points, Morgan Lake scored 13, Simon kicked in 10 and Hoelscher led the defense with six steals.
Drew Yliniemi led Metlakatla with nine points on three 3-pointers. Eight other players scored for the Chiefs, who shot 30 percent from the floor compared to Hooper Bay's 44 percent.
"It's disappointing, because we're a lot better than that," Metlakatla coach Tony Scott said. "They crammed down and took away our bigs, just by doubling them and tripling them every time they touched the ball. We had to knock down shots to get' em away from doing that and we just didn't do it."
At the start of the season, Hooper Bay coach Albert Green told all his players to dedicate the season to someone they loved and he thought that helped inspire the Warriors throughout the year.
"Awesome, Awesome group of boys," said a drenched Green, the Class 2A coach of the year. "I'm just really proud of my boys. They just won't quit."
Reach Jeremy Peters at email@example.com or 257-4335.
By JEREMY PETERS