by Greg Lincoln
This is the 30th anniversary of the 1A Coastal Conference basketball tournament and the Newtok Lady Jaegers and the Chefornak Shamans are the winners.
Thirty years ago the coach for the Shaman girls basketball team was Robert Panruk. His team won the championship in the inaugural tournament. Thirty years later Panruk is celebrating another win, but this time with the boys’ team.
Panruk gave a few words of appreciation to everyone and also to his wife and co-coach Eva.
“Let’s give her a great big hand!” Everyone cheered.
It was a tough uphill battle but with teamwork and determination, the Shaman boys have come out on top. They won this tournament back in 2012.
This breaks the Islanders’ four-time straight wins in a row on the boys’ side.
And this is the first year the Lady Jaegers of the Island League have qualified for the state tournament.
The creator of the Coastal Conference Carlton Kuhns was present at the tournament and special recognition was given him by tournament officials. He was also given a new name – Ap’a Basketball, which the crowd appreciated.
“We’re here for one thing,” said tournament emcee Mr. Gill after the presentation. “We’re here to play some ball, let’s get going!”
Let’s take a look at the first round matchups. The Kasigluk-Akiuk girls and the Chefornak Shamans warmed up the court at the WarriorDome early Thursday morning. Chefornak won 63-48. Another girls game took place right after with the Newtok Jaegers taking on the Kwigillingok Eagles, 50-39.
Fans were able to keep refreshed with the food and drinks provided by the Bethel Warrior 2017 State Champion Wrestling team concessions. The delicious aroma of snack food filled the air – pizza, nachos with cheese, popcorn, pretzels, sodas, candy and chips, Gatorade, and bottled water kept everyone’s strength up to cheer for their favorite teams. Vendors shouted “popcorn” to entice the hungry crowd while working the aisles with their tasty fare.
The first boys game featured the Nunapitchuk Wolves vs. the Kwigillingok Eagles. Nunap won in a nailbiter of a game 47-44. Chefornak boys then took on Kasigluk-Akiuk, 86-47.
Fans poured into the gym filling it to the rim. Next it was the Kongiganak Wolverine girls and the Kwethluk Bears (formerly the Vikings and then the Kings). Kwethluk won 51-36. The Wolverines did a good job and were gracious in defeat.
The Toksook Bay Lady Islanders defeated the Napaskiak Hawks 47-36. Mascots for these teams made appearances to cheer their teams and to entertain the crowd.
The last two games were on the boys’ bracket. First it was the Toksook Bay Islanders vs. the Tuntutuliak Bluejays. Tunt lost, 71-38 but not from lack of effort. Senior Bluejay Nicholas Sugar led his team offensively, breaking through the stifling Islander presses time after time with his impressive ball handling to score by layup.
The last game of the night was between the Falcons. The Kipnuk Falcons and the Atmautluak Falcons, that is. Henry Alexie Jr. of Atmautluak became a crowd favorite with his 3 pointers and layups. Kipnuk won 70-36.
In between one of these games the Coastal Villages Region Fund had a throwing party with t-shirts, tiny basketballs, and water bottles. The crowd had fun catching all the free stuff. The Kuskokwim Campus also made a presentation to any seniors wishing to enroll at KuC and passed out packets to any prospective students.
This ended first round action and everyone commuted home to bed and bath, Eskimo food, family-time, and to rest up for the next day’s exciting semi-finals.
Dawn brought games on the consolation side of the bracket. By 3:45pm, it was time for the semifinals. The first to go were the Nunapitchuk Wolves and the Chefornak Shaman boys. The Shamans won 63-54 advancing to the championship round.
The next game was another nailbiter between the Chefornak Lady Shamans and the Newtok Jaegers. Chefornak led during most of the game. Newtok increased their score and it was neck and neck and the lead went back and forth between the two teams in the fourth quarter.
With less than a minute left on the board, #30 freshman Jaeger Marilyn Fairbanks stole the ball causing an eruption from the crowd. She ran down the court with the dribble to make a layup while guarded by a Shaman defender. The ball did not go in but Jaeger teammate Mikayla Kassauli was right behind to grab the rebound. Kassaiuli put it back up for 2 points. The crowd erupted again as the whistle blew for time out. The Jaegers are up by 1.
On the inbound senior Lady Shaman Danielle Agnus gets the pass and answers with a layup in between Jaeger defenders. Chefornak has the lead by 1. Now Jaeger ball, Fairbanks threw a long pass to Kassaiuli, which is almost stolen or knocked out of bounds by the Shaman defense. Kassaiuli dribbled to the basket but was met by a Shaman defender. She bounce passed the ball to her teammate Janette Stewart who sinks a bank shot right just milliseconds before the buzzer. Newtok wins by 1 and the crowd goes berserk.
Fans can enjoy watching the exciting video clip of the end of the Newtok/Chefornak game at www.deltadiscovery.com.
Next it was the Toksook Bay Islander boys and the Kipnuk Falcons. The Islanders dominated the paint cleaning up and converting rebounds into postup plays. They won 57-39.
The last game on Friday was between the Lady Islanders and the Lady Bears of Kwethluk. The Toksook Islanders won 62-41 and advanced on to the championship finals with Newtok.
Day 3 featured the Hot Shot and Free Throw contests, the games for 3rd and 4th place, and the championships.
The Warriors ball teams were on travel this past weekend but were home by Saturday to see the championship games played on their homecourt.
The exciting final game between the Newtok Lady Jaegers and the Toksook Bay Islanders ended with Newtok winning 40-36. Newtok coaches are Jimmy Charles and Zenia Andy. Islander Crystal Lincoln scored 16 points from five 3 pointers and 1 free throw. Mikayla Kassaiuli of Newtok scored a team high of 13.
The grand finale was the boys game between the Island league champions the Toksook Islanders and the Chefornak Shamans. The game went into exciting overtime with the score tied at 41. The final score was 50-46. Preston Therchik of the Islanders scored a team high of 16 which included four 3 point shots. Shaman’s Dennis Panruk scored 19 points for his team, which included five 3 pointers.
“I don’t think I’ve ever watched two championships so close. “Who rocks this house? We do!” said LKSD Activities Director Sharon Wegner after the two finals during the awards ceremony.
She thanked the National Guard, the AVCP VPSOs, KYUK for broadcasting, the folks who provided the streaming video online, and the players and coaches.
The Newtok Jaegers and Chefornak Shamans will be playing at the State 1A Tournament, March 15-18, 2017 at the Alaska Airlines Center.
2017 1A Coastal Conference Tournament Results
1st: Newtok Jaegers
2nd: Toksook Bay Islanders
3rd: Chefornak Shamans
1st: Desiree Maxie, Napaskiak Hawks
2nd: Amber Kairaiuak, Chefornak Shamans
1st: Anecia Evan, Napaskiak Hawks
2nd: Leah Demientieff, Kasigluk-Akiuk
Highest GPA Award: Kwethluk Lady Bears
Sportsmanship: Kwigillingok Eagles
Leah Demientieff, Kasigluk-Akiuk Grizzlies
Amber Alexie, Kwethluk Bears
Lisa Evans, Toksook Bay Islanders
Anecia Evan, Napaskiak Hawks
Theresa Mathew, Chefornak Shamans
Kendall Otto, Kongiganak Wolverines
Mikayla Kassaiuli, Newtok Jaegers
Christina Daniel, Kwigillingok Eagles
Kelsey Panruk, Chefornak Shamans
Desiree Maxie, Napaskiak Hawks
1st: Chefornak Shamans
2nd: Toksook Bay Islanders
3rd: Kipnuk Falcons
1st: Anthony Sallison, Nunapitchuk Wolves
2nd: Robert Enoch, Tuntutuliak Bluejays
1st: Henry Charles, Kasigluk-Akiuk Grizzlies
2nd: Zachary Chaliak, Nunapitchuk Wolves
Highest GPA Award: Kipnuk Falcons
Sportsmanship: Atmautluak Falcons
Stanley Shields, Toksook Bay Islanders
Mykell White, Toksook Bay Islanders
Keoni Aliralria, Kipnuk Falcons
Walter Snyder II, Kwigillingok Eagles
Zachary Chaliak, Nunapitchuk Wolves
Brandon Pavilla, Atmautluak Falcons
Elia Slim, Kasigluk-Akiuk Grizzlies
Wally Flynn, Chefornak Shamans
Yago Andrew, Kasigluk-Akiuk Grizzlies
Nicholas Sugar, Tuntutuliak Bluejays
The 1A Coastal Conference tournament was played under the authority of the Alaska School Activities Association. Quyana to all tournament staff, coaches, officials, umpires, score keepers, cleaners, announcer Palmer Bailey of KYKD Radio, KYUK for broadcasting the games, the players and coaches who played their hearts out, and to Sharon Wegner – LKSD Activities Director and her staff for a great tournament!