Brevig boys turn back all challengers, defend Shootout title
What if a basketball tournament was held and a track meet broke out? The Brevig Mission Huskies and Shishmaref Northern Lights boys answered that question during the championship match of the Norton Sound Shootout finals on Saturday night in the neutral-site Nome-Beltz gym with a frenetic display of roundball.
The final game of the three-day, five-team boys division was played from start to finish, and from one end of the court to the other, at a dizzyingly fast pace. The bipartisan crowd both cheered and jeered every foul delivered, turnover committed and bucket made. In the end, the defending Shootout champion Huskies outlasted the Northern Lights 48-46 to retain their first place trophy.
Brevig finished the first quarter with a 12-8 lead behind All-Tourney star Shane Bruns’ five points. The Huskies threatened to run away with the contest after Shawn Tocktoo’s putback extended the lead to 17-10 early in the second quarter.
Shishmaref was quick to answer during the second frame using a balanced attack that saw five Northern Lights players score. Fred Sinnok recorded the last two of his seven second-quarter points with a running floater at the 2:40 mark to give his squad the advantage at 24-22. Tocktoo, who would one-up Sinnok with eight points in the frame, scored twice in the final 45 seconds to help the Huskies recover the lead, and enter the locker room at halftime up 26-24.
Neither team could find the bottom of the net in the first two minutes of the second half. Shishmaref's All-Tourney selection Edward Kokeok scored the first points of the third quarter at 5:56 with a pair of free throws that put the Northern Lights ahead 29-26. Twelve seconds later Bruns dropped in one of his game-high four three-pointers to tie the contest.
For a brief time in the third quarter the Huskies held a six-point lead, but a late frame basket by Jeremiah Iyatunguk off an assist by Kokeok at 1:00, and a basket in the paint by Sinnok with 2.8 seconds on the clock, brought the Northern Lights to within one point at 38-37 with one quarter to play.
During the fourth quarter, points were scarce and turnovers plentiful for both teams. The lead changed five times. The Huskies forged ahead for good at the 2:03 mark when Alan Ahnangnatoguk stole the ball and drove the length of the court for a basket that put his team up 45-44. Bruns then drained his fourth trey of the night with 1:23 remaining. Iyatunguk’s subsequent basket was not quite enough, as Brevig escaped with a 48-46 win.
After the game the Huskies head coach James Olanna had high praise for Brevig’s northern Seward Peninsula neighbors. “They move the ball around pretty good,” he said. “They try to take advantage of their big guy Jeremiah, and they make our defense work.”
None of the Brevig Mission Huskies four Shootout wins came easily. They opened play on Thursday by surviving a tournament-high, 30-point scoring barrage by the Savoonga Huskies’ Timothy Gologergen in a 76-70 win. Early in the game Savoonga had held a 25-9 advantage.
A ten-point, fourth quarter scoring spree by the Nome-Beltz junior varsity’s Devan Otton on Friday was nearly enough to topple the Huskies. But despite getting outscored 16-13 in the final frame, Brevig pulled through with a 50-47 win.
In a Friday game that may have surpassed the championship final for late game drama and heroics, Brevig endured a fierce challenge by the Gambell Qughsatkut as they eeked out a thrilling 73-72 overtime triumph. The Huskies nearly lost that contest in regulation as they were down by three after All-Tourney player Wallace Ungwiluk hit a free throw with 0.6 seconds left on the clock.
The Huskies coach Olanna called a timeout and drew an inbounds play for his crew. Arnold Olanna delivered a ball to Elmer Tocktoo that just made it over one of the Gambell players. Doing his best Christian Laettner impersonation, Tocktoo gathered the pass and executed a quick catch-and-shoot to send the game into extras.
The results of Brevig Mission’s big weekend raised their season record to 8-4, as they moved up to third place in the Bering Sea Conference with just two weeks remaining before the conference tournament. Two of the teams the Huskies beat during the Shootout – Gambell and Shishmaref— remain above them in the standings.
Shish girls win out
The Norton Sound Shootout girls division used a four-team, round-robin style format to determine the tournament champions. Vying for the top spot were Shishmaref, Gambell and Savoonga from the Bering Sea Conference, as well as the Nome-Beltz junior varsity.
Although the tourney design did not necessitate a true championship game, the final girls Shootout contest between the Shishmaref Northern Lights and the Nome-Beltz Nanooks JV did carry first place implications.
The Northern Lights arrived at their final game with a 2-0 mark after barely getting by the Gambell Qughsatkut 48-46 in an early Friday afternoon matchup. They handled Savoonga 64-39 in the sunrise game on Saturday. A loss in the championship match would have left them with a 2-1 record and created a three-way tie between themselves, Gambell and the Nome JV.
A logjam was avoided, and a perfect 3-0 tournament champion record was preserved, when Shishmaref took down the Nome girls by the score of 61-46. Seven different Northern Lights players scored, with Tara Fernandez leading the charge. The All-Tourney player connected on four three-point shots and had a total of 22 points.