High School Sports

Shaktoolik’s shooters lead team to Alaska 1A girls basketball championship game with comeback semifinal win

1A 2A state basketball

Trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half, the Shaktoolik girls basketball team used a combination of sharpshooting and sticky defense to advance to the championship game of Alaska’s 1A state basketball tournament.

The Wolverines limited Cook Inlet Academy to just eight points in the second half and used a late 3-point barrage to top Eagles 41-35.

“We just kept each other going,” said Naomi Savetilik, who led all scorers with 21 points. “We didn’t lose hope in the game. We knew we had to get on a roll.”

Trailing 27-17 at halftime, Shaktoolik slowly chipped away at that deficit in the third quarter, mostly using solid defense.

“We stopped their scorers,” Wolverines head coach Stacey Paniptchuk said. “We put a little extra pressure on their leading scorer and said ‘No more.’ ”

1A 2A state basketball

Despite scoring only two points in the third quarter, Cook Inlet still led 29-26 entering the final quarter.

But the Shaktoolik shooters went on a run. Trailing 31-26, the team made 3-pointers on three straight possessions. Kayleigh Sagoonick hit one from the left wing, followed by Savetilik, whose 3-pointer gave the team a 32-31 lead. On the next possession, Madison Katchatag hit one that extended the Shaktoolik lead to 35-31.

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“They’re good shooters,” Paniptchuk said. “I say ‘Shoot if you’re open girls. Make it. Have confidence in yourself. Have confidence in each other. Get the job done.’ ”

Shaktoolik also turned the tied on the glass in the second half. CIA held a 24-16 rebounding advantage at halftime but by the final buzzer, both teams had 42 rebounds.

1A 2A state basketball

“We switched up our defense,” Savetilik said. “We were playing a little too high at first and we sucked it in and that started working for us and we started getting (rebounds).”

Another key to the second half was free throws. In the first half, the Eagles were 7-for-7. In the second half, they were 0-for-7.

The win moves Shaktoolik into the championship against Lumen Christi. The Wolverines will be looking for their first girls championship in school history after reaching the title game in 2002 only to fall to Alak.

“Our town hasn’t won a state championship before so we’re pretty excited to be out there in the championship game,” she said.

Lumen Christi 58, Buckland 46

Lumen Christi went on an 11-0 run to open the second half, snapping a 27-27 halftime tie en route to the victory.

The key to the second half was getting back to what the top-seeded Archangels do best, according to their coaching staff.

“I think talking to the girls and letting them know to play tighter defense and keep shooting,” Lumen Christi assistant Marisa Melovidov said. “We may miss some shots, but we’re not going to miss them all. Just play our game.”

Despite a late run by Buckland, Lumen Christi maintained its lead and held a double figures advantage for most of the second half.

Lumen Christ’s Natalie Grubba had a fabulous all-around game. She had a game-high 26 points along with 12 rebounds, four blocks and two steals. Teammate Emily Ross added 18.

For Buckland, Ava Jones led the way with 17 and Nicole Ticket added 14.

Boys

Aniak 77, Scammon Bay 62

The Aniak boys had a good scouting report on No. 1 Scammon Bay. The two teams had played earlier this season, and while it was close in the first half, Scammon Bay pulled away.

In Friday’s semifinal, Aniak got out fast early and kept their foot on the pedal. Ryan Steeves, who led the Halfbreeds with 20 points, knew Scammon Bay was explosive.

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“We knew they were quick and we had to step up our defense because they’re pretty good shooters,” he said. “When they start catching heat, that’s when we step up on them a little more.”

Aniak stayed in a zone for much of the game, daring Scammon Bay to shoot 3-pointers from the wing. And for the most part, the strategy worked. Scammon Bay was just 7-for-39 from 3-point range. Deven Dallman added 19 for Aniak, which led 32-29 at half. They extended that lead to double figures by the end of the third quarter.

“I told them if we can keep up the pressure we’re going to be in the championship (Saturday),” Aniak head coach Joe Charles said. Stewie Sundown (24 points) and (Josiah Sundown (21) were the team’s leading scorers.

Aniak will play Kake on Saturday with a chance to win its first title since 2011.

Kake 61, Tri-Valley 56

Undefeated Kake had its hands full with Tri-Valley and needed to rally in the fourth quarter to advance into Saturday’s final. Kake outscored Tri-Valley 21-9 in the final quarter to erase a seven-point deficit.

Deontay Jackson led Kake with 18 points and teammate Dominic Ross added 16. Michael Renshaw was the game’s leading scorer with 21 and Joshua Renshaw scored 19.

Kake got out to a quick lead and led by seven at halftime. But Tri-Valley exploded in the third quarter, outscoring the Thunderbirds 23-9.

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Girls

Friday’s results

Semifinals

Lumen Christi 58, Buckland 46

Shaktoolik 41, Cook Inlet Academy 35

Consolation

Walter Northway 39, Kake 38

Klawock 44, Nunamiut 42

Newhalen 49, Shishmaref 42

Tanalian 40, Aqqaluk 38

Saturday’s games

Championship

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Lumen Christi vs. Shaktoolik, 2 p.m.

Third place

Buckland vs. Cook Inlet Academy, 8 a.m.

Boys

Friday’s results

Semifinals

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Aniak 77, Scammon Bay 62

Kake 61, Tri-Valley 56

Consolation

Klawock 59, Nelson Island 51

Buckland 76, Shaktoolik 74

Napaaqtugmiut 78, King-Cove 56

Newhalen 66, Cook Inlet Academy 42

Saturday’s games

Championship

Aniak vs. Kake, 4 p.m.

Third place

Scammon Bay vs. Tri-Valley, 11 a.m.

Chris Bieri

Chris Bieri is the sports and entertainment editor at the Anchorage Daily News.