Undefeated Kodiak girls team has coach with unique experience at state tourney

Mike Nesper

In 2001, Amy Fogle coached the Kodiak boys basketball team to an undefeated season, capped with a Class 4A state title.

She has a chance to repeat history this season -- only this time with Kodiak's girls.

Fogle and the Bears enter Thursday's state tournament with a 24-0 record. But Fogle, the 4A girls coach of the year, isn't thinking about her team's record or another state title.

"I'm just worried about today's practice," Fogle said as the tournament approached.

The other seven teams in the tournament have improved throughout the season, Fogle said, and no one can be taken lightly.

"Every team that's in there ... should be seriously considered," she said.

Kodiak is one of three Northern Lights Conference squads in the tournament and is the top-ranked girls team based on Winning Percentage Index. Three Cook Inlet Conference teams, West, East and Dimond, are also vying for the title.

East handed West its only loss of the season, a 35-34 setback in the conference championship. The Eagles and T-birds are on the same side of the bracket and could have a rematch in the semifinals.

No matter who reaches the finals, one thing is certain: Wasilla won't be there. This year will mark the first time in four years that the three-time defending champion Warriors won't be playing for a state title. Wasilla finished third in the NLC tournament -- and gave Kodiak a scare in the semifinals -- and the two at-large berths went to Soldotna and Dimond.

Records are meaningless at state, Fogle said. The team playing the best ball at the end of the season wins the crown.

"I hope that's us," she said.

Kodiak needs to stay relaxed, Fogle said, and take each game as if it were the middle of the season.

"We can't stress about what time of the year it is," she said. "We just have to continue doing what we've done all season."

The Bears, who have 10 upperclassmen including five senior starters, like to run the floor and press on defense, Fogle said. If Kodiak controls the tempo, she likes her team's chances.

Known for supportive fans, Fogle expects plenty of Kodiak residents to pack Sullivan Arena, especially with two teams to watch.

"The community is excited," she said.

Kodiak's boys, led by Class 4A coach of the year Dave Andersen, are the eighth seed and meet top-ranked West in the opening round Thursday.

West is one of three CIC teams in the tournament, along with East and Service. East and Service met in last year's state title game, with the T-birds winning 66-59.

The Cougars, who have 4A Player of the Year in Reece Robinson, have finished second at the last two state tournaments. Service also finished second in the conference tournament, falling to West 72-59 in the championship game.

Despite a first-round exit from the conference tourney, East gets a chance to defend its title because it earned one of the two at-large berths in the boys tournament. The T-birds, seeded seventh, open against No. 2 Lathrop.

Reach Mike Nesper at mnesper@adn.com or 257-4335.