by Greg Lincoln
Congratulations to the 34th Annual 1A Alaska Coastal Conference basketball tournament champions as of this Saturday, March 5th, 2022 – the Chefornak Lady Shamans and the Toksook Bay Islander boys. These teams battled hard to make it to the top of their brackets. They will be representing the Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) and the Coastal Conference at the long awaited 2022 State 1A basketball tournament in Anchorage on March 16-19, 2022 at the Alaska Airlines Center, home of the Seawolves.
This tournament was fortunately able to take place through the organization and help of many people, thank you to LKSD Students Activities Director Sharon Wegner for your hard work and to your staff and volunteers.
Teams began playing on Thursday March 3rd. Opening games for the girls began with the Tuntutuliak Lady Bluejays and the Kwethluk Lady Carayiit. Tuntutuliak won 72-50 to advance to the semifinals. Toksook Bay also advanced, defeated the Napaskiak Lady Hawks 60-56. The Chefornak Lady Shamans, the eventual tournament champions, beat the Quinhagak Lady Seahawks 41-27. And the last girls game was between the Kongiganak Lady Wolverines and the Kasigluk-Akiuk Lady Grizzlies. Akiuk won 43-39.
On the boys’ bracket, the Kipnuk Falcons playing with only 5 players defeated the Mekoryuk Herders 69-30 to advance to the semifinals. The Chefornak Shamans also advanced after winning their game with the Nunapitchuk Wolves 46-36. The Tuntutuliak Bluejays also won their game with the Kwethluk Carayii 57-44. The last game of the night for the boys was between the eventual tournament champions the Toksook Bay Islanders and the Quinhagak Seahawks, the Islanders won 81-21.
Folks were able to sign up to watch their teams play. After each game the gym was cleared for covid prevention measures, cleaned and then the next set of spectators would come in to cheer. Everyone did a good job to make sure it was safe for players and their rooters.
On Friday the consolation games took place. For the girls the Napaskiak Lady Hawks defeated their fellow Kusko-Delta league team the Kwethluk Lady Carayiit 65-48. Also on the consolation bracket was the game between the Quinhagak Lady Seahawks and the Kongiganak Lady Wolverines. The Seahawks won in a close contest 42-38. Napaskiak and Quinhagak would be playing for the 5th and 6th place spots.
For the boys, the Nunapitchuk Wolves won their game with the Mekoryuk Herders 75-45 and the Kwethluk Carayiit defeated the Quinhagak Seahawks 74-45. Nunapitchuk and Kwethluk advanced to play for 5th and 6th place.
Tournament play continued with the semifinals to see who would advance to the championship game. The Lady Bluejays of Tuntutuliak sent the Lady Islanders of Toksook Bay to the consolation bracket in an exciting game 51-47. Tunt fans rejoiced – the Lady Bluejays were in the championship for the first time since the inception of the 1A Coastal Conference.
The other game was between the Lady Shamans of Chefornak and the Lady Grizzlies of Akiuk. The Lady Shamans won 38-30 in another exciting matchup. The Lady Grizzlies would play the Lady Islanders for 3rd and 4th place.
For the boys semifinals, the Chefornak Shamans defeated their closest neighbors – the Kipnuk Falcons 58-32. The Falcons fought valiantly with only 5 players throughout the whole game, resting during timeouts and in between quarters. The Falcons had one senior, two sophomores, and two freshmen. The Toksook Bay Islanders also won 70-33, defeating the Tuntutuliak Bluejays. This concluded day 2.
On Saturday the battles for 3rd through 5th took place. The Toksook Bay Lady Islanders were victorious over the Akiuk Grizzlies 57-51 for the number 3 spot. And for the boys the Tuntutuliak Bluejays won over the Kipnuk Falcons, 33-27 for third place. On the consolation side the Napaskiak Lady Hawks defeated the Quinhagak Lady Seawolves in the closest game in the whole tournament 54-52 to win 5th place. On the boys’ side the Nunapitchuk Wolves won 5th and the Kwethluk Carayiit placed 6th, score was 46-35.
For the championship games the Lady Shamans defeated the Lady Bluejays of Tuntutuliak 38-30 and the Islander boys defeated the Chefornak Shamans 78-21 on the last day of the tournament. An awards ceremony took place afterwards. LKSD Activities Director Sharon Wegner thanked everyone for their efforts and the student athletes for staying eligible to be able to play sports and for making it through the struggles of the pandemic.
“I wanted to thank all of you for coming for the 34th annual district basketball tournament,” said Wegner. “The last two years were hard for all of us because of the pandemic. But you guys are proof that we can come back and have a little bit of normalcy…I really appreciate all of your hard work. At least you are trying and attempting to stay eligible and then making it to come back.”
Wegner thanked her staff, the social workers, the volunteers, the coaches, and the folks at KYUK, and the players.
The conference finals were hosted by the Lower Kuskokwim School District and the Bethel Regional High School and dedicated staff. The games with commentaries were live streamed by LKSD and were aired on KYUK Radio. Special thanks and a standing ovation was given to Palmer Bailey of KYKD Radio for his announcing of all the games.
1A Coastal Conference Basketball Tournament March 3-5, 2022 at BRHS
1st: Stella Abraham, Chefornak Shamans
2nd: Allison Petluska, Quinhagak Seahawks
1st: Joette Alexie, Kwethluk Carayiit
2nd: Aezlynn Carl, Tuntutuliak Bluejays
GPA Award: Quinhagak Seahawks, 3.45 gpa
1st: Chefornak Shamans, Coach Eva Panruk/Assistant Coach Robert Panruk
2nd: Tuntutuliak Bluejays, Coach Lisa Fitka/Assistant Coach Sabrina Carl
3rd: Toksook Bay Lady Islanders, Coach Frank Pitka/Assistant Coach Nellie Charles
Girls Sportsmanship Award: Chefornak Shamans
Daysha Tinker, Kongiganak Wolverines
Aezlynn Carl, Tuntutuliak Bluejays
Shaylene Nicholas, Akiuk Grizzlies
Joette Alexie, Kwethluk Carayiit
Rosemary Henry, Toksook Bay Islanders
Hilary Larson, Napaskiak Hawks
Sarah Lupie, Kongiganak Wolverines
Naomi Wassillie, Chefornak Shamans
Chayland Pleasant, Quinhagak Seahawks
Michelle Frank, Tuntutuliak Bluejays
Precious Tuluk, Toksook Bay Islanders
Katie Demientieff, Akiuk Grizzlies
1st: Kholan Carl, Kipnuk Falcons
2nd: Jerritt Nicholai, Quinhagak Seahawks
1st: Isaiah Paul, Kipnuk Falcons
2nd: Abraham Julius, Toksook Bay Islanders
GPA Award: Kipnuk Falcons, 3.49 gpa
1st: Toksook Bay Islanders, Coach Simeon Lincoln
2nd: Chefornak Shamans, Coach Robert Panruk/Assistant Eva Panruk
3rd: Tuntutuliak Bluejays, Coach Carlotta Evan/Assistant Coach Jimmie Andrew
Sportsmanship Award: Mekoryuk Herders
Colton Angaiak, Toksook Bay Islanders
Jonathan Alexie Jr., Quinhagak Seahawks
Jason Pavila, Kwethluk Carayiit
Michael Flynn, Chefornak Shamans
Isaiah Paul, Kipnuk Falcons
Kurtis Castel, Tuntutuliak Bluejays
Garrett Nicholai, Nunapitchuk Wolves
Ashton White, Tuntutuliak Bluejays
Matthew Panruk III, Chefornak Shamans
Abraham Julius, Toksook Bay Islanders