by Tommy Wells
With 22 seconds left in the second overtime, the Chefornak Lady Shaman knew they needed a big shot to sneak past Toksook Bay in the championship game of the Class 1A Coastal Conference Basketball Tournament.
Haley Abraham delivered. The Chefornak standout knocked down the shot of the year and lifted to a 42-41 come-from-behind victory in front of a standing-room-only crowd in the Bethel Regional High School WarriorDome. Trailing by one, Abraham took an inbounds pass just inside the three-point arc from the right side and tossed up the shot that sends the Lady Shaman to the Class 1A state tournament moments later.
Chefornak head coach Eva Panruk admitted to not seeing the game-winner.
“I wasn’t able to watch,” said Panruk following the post-game celebrations. “I’m speechless. They (her team) wanted this.”
What the Lady Shaman did was gain the last say over Island League rival Toksook Bay. After losing to the Lady Islanders twice during the regular season, the Chefornak girls refused to go quietly into the night. The Lady Shaman tied the game at 37-37 at the end of regulation, and the forced a second overtime on a free throw by Naomi Wassillie.
Wassillie’s free throw tied the score at 38-38 at the start of the second OT period. Toksook Bay’s Catherine Lincoln tallied the Lady Islanders’ lone point of the first OT.
Chefornak took the early lead in the second overtime period. Haley Abraham took an inbounds pass and drove inside for a layup that put the Lady Shaman up 40-38 with 2:45 left in the affair.
Precious Tuluk breathed life into the Islanders’ state tournament hopes less than 30 seconds later. She took a pass in the corner and tossed up a clutch three-point shot from the right side that staked Toksook Bay to a 41-40 advantage with 2:21 to play.
Two minutes later, Abraham rocked the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta with her game-winner.
“We did it!” said sophomore Jillian Agimuk.
Chefornak got off to a quick start against the Lady Islanders, thanks to Wassillie’s ability to shoot from the perimeter. The freshman guard buried two three-point shots in the first eight minutes of the contest and led the Lady Shaman to a 9-7 cushion.
Stella Abraham pushed in the team’s only other field goal in the first. Dion Panruk added a free throw.
Rosemary Henry and Serena Simmons led Toksook in the opening stanza. Henry scored four points in the frame, while Simmons pushed in a three-point shot.
Catherine Lincoln and Henry got the Lady Islanders’ offense on the right track in the second. The two combined for all 13 of Toksook Bay’s second-quarter points and carried their team to a 20-17 halftime cushion.
Lincoln tallied seven of her 14 points in the period.
Henry, who finished with a team-high 16 points, came up big for the Lady Islanders in the fourth. Trailing 28-27 at the end of the third, Henry helped Toksook Bay force overtime by pitching in six of the Lady Islanders’ 10 points in the final eight minutes. As a team, that outpointed Chefornak by a 10-9 margin in the stanza.
Wassillie finished as the Lady Shamans’ top scorer with 15 points. Panruk and Agimuk both added nine, while Haley Abraham and Stella Abraham chipped in five and four, respectively.