High School Sports

Nome-Beltz boys dominate 4th quarter in comeback win over Grace Christian in 3A semifinals

Even though the Nome-Beltz boys basketball team is the No. 2 seed in this year’s 3A state championship tournament, the Nanooks’ 48-41 come-from-behind win over No. 3 Grace Christian in the semifinals on Thursday night at the Alaska Airlines Center felt like every bit of an upset.

Not only did the Nanooks take down the defending state champions led by 2024 Gatorade Player of the Year, Kellen Jedlicka, their rally in the final eight minutes after being down by 10 at the end of the third quarter was a microcosm of their entire season up to this point.

“This has been a season of adversity,” junior Finn Gregg said. “We’ve been down a lot, we’ve lost a lot of close games, and that has really built us to get to where we are right here. We know that we’re battle-tested and we never had a doubt coming into that fourth quarter.”

Nome-Beltz scored nearly half of its points for the game in the fourth quarter alone, outpacing Grace Christian 22-5. The Nanooks’ offense exploded and their defense clamped down as the team came together as a collective.

“First half was our worst first half of the season,” Nome-Beltz coach Patrick Callahan said. “I’m not talking points, I’m talking about selfishness, bad shot selection, and arguing with each other. We’ve had this before but this was our worst.”

Trailing 19-12 at halftime, they talked about how the only way to get back into the game and have any hopes of mounting a comeback was “to be together.”

“That’s what we did in the second half,” Callahan said. “We stayed together. There wasn’t the arguing, there wasn’t any infighting, and there wasn’t the bad shot selection.”


He credited Gregg’s “super competitiveness” for both igniting and fueling their incredible comeback effort. After only having six points at halftime, he poured in 18 of his team-leading 24 points in the final two quarters.

“(Gregg) always thinks that there’s a chance for us to get the win,” Callahan said. “No matter what happens, he always thinks we can do it.”

One of the players who struggled mightily with bad shot selection through the first three quarters was senior Richard Cross, who was 0-for-5 from behind the arc heading into the fourth but was able to finally get a pair to fall on back-to-back possessions. The first got the Nanooks within three points at the 4:28 mark and the second tied the game a few moments later after he forced a turnover with a great defensive play.

“First half he was not happy, he was mad at his teammates and his teammates were arguing with him,” Callahan said. “He is always able to get through that and get back focused on what he needs to do.”

Although his shots weren’t falling early on, Cross never lost confidence in himself because his team never lost faith in him.

“My teammates believe in me and I believe in my shot and my coaches believe in me,” he said. “I missed a few, even airballed a few but I just kept shooting. I knew it was going to go in at some point.”

Slowing down the Grizzlies and Jedlicka specifically was a daunting task that Gregg said “took a team effort.” Jedlicka finished with 24 points and scored 12 of his team’s 17 points in the third quarter.

“We executed the great game plan that our coach gave to us and we just trust every one of our guys,” he said. “We know what (Jedlicka) can bring and we knew what we had to do to stop him.”

This game marked the third straight finals matchup between Nome-Beltz and Grace Christian in the 3A state playoffs. While Callahan downplayed the significance of the Grizzlies blowing out his team by 31 points in last year’s title bout, some of the players used it as extra motivation.

“I had to live with that for a whole year now and I thought about it pretty much every day,” Gregg said. “To get that one back feels really good.”

Up next for the Nanooks will be arguably their toughest test of the season to date when they take on the No. 1 seeded Mt. Edgecumbe Braves in Saturday’s state finals at 3 p.m.

“I feel like we match up really well with them,” Gregg said. “We feel like we were the top two teams in the state all year and we’re going to find out who is the best on Saturday.”

Mt. Edgecumbe steamrolls Valdez to advance to state finals

The Braves have looked every bit as dominant as a No. 1 seed should through the first two rounds of this year’s state tournament. Their 67-38 blowout of the No. 5 seeded Buccaneers on Thursday night didn’t just ensure that they remained undefeated at 26-0, it means that they have gone a step further in an attempt to win the first boys basketball state title in school history.

“I’m really proud of that,” senior Kaison Herrmann said. “All the hard work that we’ve done, early mornings, it all pays off.”

Mt. Edgecumbe was in control of the game from start to finish, never trailed again after opening the game down 3-2. The Braves extended their lead in each of the final three quarters by 10 then 19 and finally by 29 in the end.

“We just come out playing defense, getting rebounds, defensive rebounds every single time,” Herrmann said.

The Braves outpaced the Buccaneers up and down the court, scoring a large number of their points in transition after either forcing one of their 12 turnovers or corralling one of their 37 rebounds.


“We play really hard, we play at pace,” Herrmann said. “We want teams to play at our pace and not at theirs.”

Herrmann was one of the Mt. Edgecumbe players to reach double figures in scoring with a game-high 22 points followed by Richard Didrickson Jr. with 14 and Donovan Standifer with 10.

“I wasn’t thinking that much, just playing my own game like I usually do, coming out there strong and working hard,” Herrmann said.

Herrmann and his fellow seniors have envisioned themselves making program history since they were sophomores. He said they don’t intend on letting the opportunity to win it all go to waste with the help of a passionate fan base that shows out in force to energize them.

“Everybody is proud of us and all the hard work that we’ve done,” Herrmann said. “They bring energy to the floor and we really feed off of them.”

3A Basketball Tournament

At Alaska Airlines Center





Valdez 34, Barrow 31

Mt. Edgecumbe 66, Hutchison 20

Nome-Beltz 55, Houston 39

Grace Christian 51, Seward 30



Barrow 53, Hutchison 35

Houston 51, Seward 43


Mt. Edgecumbe 67, Valdez 38

Nome-Beltz 48, Grace Christian 41




4th/6th place

Barrow v. Seward at 11 a.m. (Auxiliary gym)


3rd/5th place


Valdez v. Grace Christian at 10:30 a.m. (Avis complex)


Mt. Edgecumbe v. Nome-Beltz at 3 p.m. (Main court)

Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.