Alaska sports digest for Wednesday, June 26


Midnight Sun flourishing

The Midnight Sun Volleyball Club's 18s, composed of many of Alaska's best high school seniors and juniors, have blitzed through the bracket at the 30th annual Volleyball Festival in Phoenix, Ariz., and qualified for Thursday's championship match.

After dropping its opening match Monday to Legacy Elite (S.C.) in two games, Midnight Sun reeled off nine consecutive match wins, all by two-game sweeps. Among Midnight Sun's three victories Wednesday was one over Legacy Elite.

The Midnight Sun team is one of 501 age-group teams entered in the age-group tournament. More than 7,000 players ages 12-18 are participating.


Match-play tourney begins

Golfers will experience an altered format and an altered Eagleglen Golf Course this week in the Alaska Golf Association's State Match Play Championship.

The usual Friday start was moved back to Thursday and the usual 36-hole men's stroke-play qualifier was shortened to 18 holes in an effort to give players a chance to play at least one match.

As always, the men's field will be trimmed to a 16-player championship bracket to determine a state champion. But what used to be a 16-player handicap bracket will be expanded to 32 players. That means 48 men will avoid stroke-play elimination and have a chance to play in a match.

The fields for the women and senior men are always small enough that golfers have always played at least one match.

Thursday's 18 holes will determine seeding for men, women and senior men divisions, with bracketed match play beginning Friday. Championship matches are Sunday.

Each division will crown a new state champion, because last year's champions are not entered -- men's winner Mike Oldenkamp, women's winner Rynae Baca and senior champion Bill Toney.

Players will face an altered 15th hole at Eagleglen. Damage done to the 15th tee box by a raging Ship Creek last fall changed the once-strategic par-5 into a short par-4.


Bush team takes title

The Alaska Ice boys basketball team, a traveling team made up of players from rural Alaska, turned heads last weekend by winning the U-17 championship at the Mid-America College Exposure Tournament in Lincoln, Neb.

The Alaskans beat the Alternates, an AAU team from Omaha, Neb., 58-44 in the title game.

Tyler Eide of Nome pumped in 20 points in the championship game, including 11 in the first half, and Ito Naneng of Bethel tossed in 12, including 10 in the second half. Cass Mattheis of Nome, a 6-foot-9 center, added 11 points.

Doug Boyer, a coach for the Ice, said that even with Mattheis the Alaskans faced a size disadvantage.

"Every team we faced had boys who ranged from 6 feet to 6-9," he said in an email. Every other team also drew players from large population bases.

The Ice, which also includes players from Glennallen, Barrow, Galena and Unalaska, are part of the Elite Traveling Basketball Club, which focuses on the development of rural Alaska high school athletes. The club fields a boys team and a girls team; both are currently playing tournaments in the Lower 48.

Anchorage Daily News