Defense-minded Tikigaq forced a prodigious amount of turnovers early Saturday night, so the victory parade being planned up in Point Hope will be able to celebrate both of the school’s basketball teams.
Hours after the Harpoonerettes earned their fifth Class 2A girls state title, the Harpooners turned the trick themselves with a 53-47 win over defending-champion Metlakatla in the boys title game at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Tikigaq scored 10 first-half points off 16 forced turnovers and kept the Chiefs uneasy throughout much of the evening by forcing 21 total turnovers.
“We work so hard on that press that most of our points come off that press, playing defense,” said Tikigaq senior Kaliksun Kirk, one of three Harpooners named to the all-tournament team. “We also know there will be a very positive vibe across the town when we get back next week.”
Second-year coach Teddy Frankson Jr. said the Point Hope community of about 850, located some 700 miles northwest of Anchorage on the Chukchi Sea coast, will have quite the celebration. Just about anything with wheels will fire up so residents can fete the champions.
“We’ll go home and have a parade,” Frankson said. “We get with the fire department, a tanker, the medics, and anyone with a car, 4-wheeler or snowmachine gets involved and gets out.
“Winning state titles means a lot to everyone.”
Tikigaq built a 30-21 halftime edge by relying on defense and the inside-outside tandem of bruiser Kaesyn Hill and shooter Henry Kowunna. The duo combined for 17 points in the first half.
Kowunna finished with a game-high 17 points and chipped in seven rebounds. He downed one 3-pointer to end the second quarter and then opened the third quarter with a triple from the top of the key.
Hill made all six of his shots, scored 14 points and grabbed six boards. Kirk grabbed a team-high eight rebounds before missing the last few seconds of the game after getting rapped in the nose.
Tikigaq led by as much as 17, 46-29, before the defending champs found a way to tighten things up. Metlakatla, an Annette Island village in Southeast Alaska, climbed within three points, 50-47, with 1:01 left.
The Harpooners made just three of eight free throws in the final seconds, but held on nonetheless.
Conrad Hudson turned in a rugged 16-point, 19-rebound performance and fellow senior Desmond King fired in 12 points for the Chiefs, who should find solace in first- and second-place finishes the last two seasons.
“We knew everyone was going to come at us," Hudson said. “I know a lot of those Tikigaq guys and they said they knew they would see us in the championship. It was a battle and I knew they were going to give everything they had to give.
“The turnovers killed us. But this last year was crazy, and I’m so proud and thankful of everyone who supported us. I’m happy to say I got one championship.”
Frankson wore two different atikluks, a white one in the first half and a black one in the second.
“I wanted to make sure to honor the different people who made them back in town,” he said. “They worked hard, a lot of sewing. Originally, I was only going to wear one. But because of that work, I had to wear two.”
No word yet on what Frankson will wear to the upcoming parade in Point Hope.
Unalaska 59, Glennallen 54 (3rd place)
Trevor Wilson poured in 34 points and was money at the free-throw line to lead Unalaska past Glennallen boys in the third-place game.
Wilson hit 15 of 18 free throws for the Raiders, who outscored Glennallen 21-10 from the foul line.
Glennallen was led by 15 points and six steals from Aidan Fields and 16 points from Gabriel Jones.
Unalakleet 67, Cordova 59 (4th place)
The Unalakleet boys prospered behind a huge game from Aidan Ivanoff to knock off Cordova in the fourth-place game.
Ivanoff racked up 25 points and 15 rebounds for the Wolf Pack. Michael Haugen and Nathan Ivanoff combined for another 21 points.
For Cordova, Christian Adams provided 23 points and eight rebounds and Aiden Graves chipped n 14 points.
Trevor Wilson, Unalaska
Aiden Ivanoff, Unalakleet
Gabriel Jones, Glennallen
Christian Adams, Cordova
Kaliksun Kirk, Tikigaq
Conrad Hudson, Metlakatla
Jalen Cannon, Tikigaq
Elijah Casperson, Metlakatla
Mark Davis, Haines
Henry Kowunna, Tikigaq
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.