Expectations were high for the Tikigaq girls basketball team this winter following a state championship in the 2021-22 season.
But the team from the Northwest Alaska community of Point Hope lived up to each of them. Tikigaq defeated Metlakatla 55-33 on Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center. The victory gave the Harpooners a second straight Alaska state 2A girls basketball title and a fourth championship in the last five state tournaments.
The team returned six seniors from last year’s team and only had one new player. Tikigaq stepped up its level of competition with some games against out-of-state schools and 4A schools from Alaska.
“We had even higher expectations of the girls this year,” Tikigaq head coach Ramona Rock said. “We had worked on a lot of different things during the season. We played one 5A school that had like 2,300 kids. So we’ve had a really good year.”
Tikigaq got off to a fast start, running off the first eight points and never looked back. The Harpooners led 30-18 at halftime and held a 17-point advantage entering the fourth quarter.
Tikigaq’s Jennifer Nash led all scorers with 20 points. While some of Nash’s teammates felt the pressure of trying to repeat, the sophomore said it never entered her mind.
“We’re really confident where; we felt like we could get it again, and we got it,” she said. “We’re not a selfish team; and you can see that. We just work together.”
Teammate Jadyn Lane added 10 points for the Harpooners. A senior, Lane said she felt like the team was aware of the weight of expectations.
“Yeah, we felt a lot of pressure,” she said. “We just knew that we had a big target on our back. So we just had to show him who we are and just play our game.”
Seven players scored for Tikigaq, which made 8 of 18 3-pointers. Nash was especially proficient, hitting 5 of 9.
Tikigaq dropped three games all season but all three were to Alaska 4A teams: West, Wasilla and Monroe Catholic.
“We’ve worked hard all year, and it paid off at the end,” Tikigaq senior Joan Barger said.
Bree Chavez led Metlakatla with 15.
Rock said that after being hunkered down for much of the pandemic, the team’s success has been a positive not only for the Tikigaq students but for the people of Point Hope as well.
“I have to say that it’s been a tough three years, you know, with the pandemic,” she said. “It’s been hard on the kids and basketball really is something that picks up the kids and the community.”
Girls Alaska 2A State Basketball Tournament
Tikigaq 55, Metlakatla 33
Su Valley 36, Glennallen 35
Craig 40, Unalakleet 39