When the Class 2A Player of the Year had to be helped off the floor late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s state championship game with calf cramps, the top-seeded Tikigaq Harpoonerettes didn’t panic.
Other players stepped to lead the team to a 49-39 victory over the third-seeded Nenana Lynx in the Class 2A girls basketball state championship game at the Alaska Airlines Center.
It’s the second straight state title for Tikigaq (20-2), which had never before won back-to-back state titles.
The Harpoonerettes are a small but close-knit squad. Many of the players are related to each other, and most have been playing basketball together since the second grade.
“We don’t have a lot of players -- we have eight players," coach Ramona Rock said. "We play against some teams that are bigger than our village. We have 850 people and we play some schools that have 1,300 to 1,500 students.”
Once team leader Bridgett Oviok went to the bench, Angela Lane, a junior, sank consecutive buckets down the stretch. One of five Lanes on the team -- others are Makayla, Jada, Sister and Barbara -- she finished with 11 points, five rebounds and five steals.
“How you practice is how you play, and (Angela) works extra hard in practice, so it pays off during the games,” Rock said.
The Tikigaq defense was suffocating, forcing the Lynx into 18 turnovers. Offensively the Harpoonerettes were able to generate an abundance of shots despite inefficient shooting (21 of 62 from the field, 4 of 27 from beyond the 3-point line).
The first half saw both teams trading blows. Nenana led 13-11 after the first quarter and 22-20 at halftime thanks to first-team all-stater Julie Frankson, who scored nine first-half points.
The Harpoonerettes dialed in their defense in the third quarter, forcing turnovers that led to easy buckets and a 31-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter. They kept the game just out of Nenana’s reach the rest of the way.
Senior Nichole Hank led the winners with an efficient 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting, eight rebounds and three steals. Oviok contributed 10 points.
“I feel like I did something really great for my community," Hank said. "I felt like we represented our community very well.”
Frankson led the Lynx effort with 15 points, all of them coming on 3-pointers. Sharon Hansen added a 10-point 11-rebound double-double.
Unalakleet 44, Craig 41
The Unalakleet Wolfpack edged the Craig Panthers to claim third-place honors.
Despite outrebounding Unalakleet 50-29, the Panthers were plagued by poor shooting (16 of 56 from the field, 6 of 23 from the free throw line, 3 of 8 from beyond the arc).
The Wolf Pack were led by senior Summer Sagoonick’s 16 points and junior Jewel Wilson’s 11 points.
Senior Ashley Hansen led the Panthers with 13 points and senior Johanna Skan-Allen pitched in 12.
Scammon Bay 54, Unalaska 45
Thanks to contributions from three double-digit scorers, the Scammon Bay Eagles secured fourth place with a win over the Unalaska Raiders.
The Eagles were led by 19 points from sophomore Adam Kaganak, 13 points and 16 rebounds from senior Anecia Rivers and 10 points from junior Rita Uttereyuk.
Poor shooting hurt the Raiders, who were 15 of 54 from the field. Junior Kayla Villamor led the way with 18 points, 10 of which came from the free-throw line.
All Tournament Team
Nicole Hank, Tikigaq
Bridgett Oviok, Tikigaq
Angela Lane, Tikigaq
Julie Frankson, Nenana
Sharon Hansen, Nenana
Jewel Wilson, Unalakleet
Summer Sagoonick, Unalakleet
Adam Kaganak, Scammon Bay
Johanna Skan-Allen, Craig