In the final thrilling moments of an emotional fourth quarter, Shadow Brock stood in front of the King Cove bench and raised his arms in triumph.
It didn’t take long for the T-Jacks coach to be engulfed by all six of his players and the team manager. The small group-hug loomed large for the Aleutian Chain town of about 1,000 residents, roughly 620 miles southwest of Anchorage.
“Right now, none of this seems real,” Brock said Saturday after King Cove scored a 59-54 Class 1A boys state championship victory over Nunamiut. “As a player, as a coach, you’re around basketball your whole life. This is what you dream of accomplishing.”
King Cove scored the final six points in its first boys state-title tilt, including four free throws from senior Gary Gould in the final 10 seconds. Gould finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds in front of a boisterous Alaska Airlines Center crowd of a few thousand.
“I’ve never been in a situation like that in my life,” Gould said. “(Brock) makes us shoot 100 free throws a day and thousands during the season. I couldn’t hear anything. Everything was just loud.
“I just had to concentrate on the rim.”
King Cove’s victory completed a Class 1A double play. The girls team, nicknamed the Rookies, downed Tri-Valley 72-34 to claim their second state title in school history and their first since 2004.
“When we get back to town, everything is going to be crazy,” Gould said. “It’s going to be hectic. We’ll have some fun.”
The lead changed five times in the last 3 minutes, 4 seconds and three times in the last 1:52.
Nunamiut senior Chase Nay scored eight straight points, his last two coming on a pull-up jumper from the left side that gave the Amaguqs a 54-53 lead with 52 seconds left. King Cove senior Jason Duarte answered 11 seconds later from close range to put the T-Jacks in the lead for good, 55-54.
Then Gould made his free throws while Nunamiut failed to find its stroke for any kind of equalizer.
Both teams shot poorly. The T-Jacks finished 18 of 47 overall (38 percent) and only made four of 17 3-point attempts. The Amaguqs, which means Wolf God, hit 19 of 68 (27 percent) and sunk nine of a stupefying 42 3-point tries.
King Cove senior Graydon Severian and Duarte each finished with 18 points, and Duarte added 10 rebounds to help the T-Jacks win the rebound battle, 45-31.
Not afraid to shoot from anywhere, Nunamiut senior Darin Morry nailed seven 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 29 points.
It was the second straight title-game appearance for Nunamuit, which is something, given it plays in a classification with 111 schools. The village is located in Anaktuvuk Pass about 480 miles north of Anchorage.
“With so many great teams, just making it to state is a blessing,” Nunamiut coach Cody Ridney said. “Our kids gave it their all, they played hard and really wanted it.
“To be in this atmosphere two years in a row with all our crowd following us all the way from home is amazing. It’s basketball up there, it’s our lives.”
Brock had similar sentiments.
“Playing basketball is such a joy for all of us,” Brock said. “Winning championships has never happened before in our town.
“It’s going to mean a lot.”
Shishmaref 68, Tanana 65
Edward Kokeok, the Class 1A Player of the Year, made 10 of 19 shots and popped in 33 points to lead Shishmaref to a 68-65 third-place game victory over Tanana.
Kokeok also added 11 rebounds. Kenneth Stevenson chipped in 13 points and Gabriel Stenek had 11 for the Northern Lights.
Tanana eighth-grader Malachi Bradley played all 32 minutes and scored a game-high 37 points. The state of Alaska may be hearing more from the guy in the future.
Thorne Bay 66, Noatak 50
Thorne Bay outscored its opponent by 15 points in the second half to cruise to a 66-50 fourth-place game victory over Noatak, the defending Class 1A champion.
Stockton Schwab (game-high 21 points), Kyle Congdon and Jacob Congdon combined for 61 Thorne Bay points.
Noatak’s Roland Pen, Steven Stalker and Kenneth Walton all finished with 11 points.
Matt Nevala co-hosts “The Sports Guys” radio show, Saturdays at 11 a.m. on KHAR AM 590 and FM 96.7. Find him on social media at @MNevala9.