Lady Nanooks place second in Subway Showdown
The 2019 edition of the annual Subway Showdown basketball tournament included four teams so close in ability that the games were all hard fought, often going down to the final buzzer. Traveling to Nome to play ball were varsity basketball players from Grace Christian High School of Anchorage, from Petersburg and Unalakleet.
Grace Christian won all their games in both girls and boys divisions but they had to play hard to pull it off.
“Basketball in the rural areas is so exciting,” said Petersburg boys coach Rick Brock. “When we played Nome last night the gym was packed. It was just rocking. We’ve heard what a great home court they have and for our kids to play in a game like that, with a heightened atmosphere, having the home crowd behind their team like that, cheering them on. It’s a special thing for them to experience.”
Unalakleet had a solid crowd behind them, too. It wasn’t nearly as big as Nome’s but it was definitely there. The Wolfpack girls fought a close battle with Petersburg, winning in the last seconds by a score of 47 to 44. “At half time I really got to the grind and encouraged them,” said Wolfpack coach Melinda Gray. She’d lost her voice in the course of the game and her words just barely came out. “And you know what? Positive thinking becomes positive outcome.”
Jewell Wilson scored 18 to lead in the win over Petersburg. They lost a close one to Nome, 56 to 51, and fell to Grace Christian 45 to 35. Grace outscored Unalakleet 19-9 in the fourth quarter after the game was tied at 26-26. Tessa Binder led Grace with 19 and Grace Salima added nine points. Jewel Wilson and Alexandria Ivanoff each scored eight points for Unalakleet.
The Unalakleet boys lost a squeaker to Petersburg 63 to 61. They lost to Nome 68 to 57 and to Grace 45 to 35. But they played great ball and should be a threat in 2A again this year. The tournament MVP award for boys went to Nathan Ivanoff, who plays for Grace Christian.
The Lady Nanooks took the runner-up trophy in the tournament, losing only to Grace Christian. The Grace vs. Nome contest was a true championship game as both teams came onto the game with a 2-0 tournament record. Tessa Binder scored 13 first quarter points on her way to a game high 17 to lead Grace over the Nanooks. Brooke Anungazuk led Nome with 14 points.
The Lady Nanooks downed Unalakleet 56 to 51 with Kastyn Lie scoring 26 points. They won over Petersburg 46 to 32, outscoring Petersburg 18-4 in the fourth quarter to break open a 28-28 tie at the end of the third quarter. E.J. Rochon led Nome with 24 points. Petersburg was led by Kaili Simbahon with nine.
“Yeah, they’re really playing well this year,” said Lady Nanook coach Joe Musich after the tournament ended. “Definitely a lot more confident.” He agreed with the Nugget’s observation that they’ve improved a lot since last year. “Better chemistry for sure,” he said. “Everybody is getting along, everybody is playing hard for each other. They just really want to win this year.”
The Nome boys downed Unalakleet 68 to 57 and lost to Petersburg and Grace. Grace outscored the Nanooks 25-12 in the second half to win the Nome Subway Showdown. Nathan Harriman led Grace with 22. Stephan Anderson led Nome with 10.
“We have barely been together,” said Nanook coach Pat Callahan. “Three or four of our guys are wrestlers and made it to the state tournament and just really started practicing. Stephan Anderson missed all Christmas break and was in wrestling. We’re playing two freshmen who are doing a great job but also have lots of room for improvement. I think we need some days together and we can start figuring this thing out. Grace is year in and year out a top team in the state tournament. I thought we had a real good showing in the first half with them. I think we can keep improving and by the end of the season it would be anybody’s game. It was a neat group of teams this year.”
The Nanooks host Kotzebue next Friday and Saturday and then travel to Monroe Catholic, one of the state’s top 3A teams. Then it’s off to the Delta Tournament.
The Nugget asked Rick Brock, the Petersburg coach, why a tournament like the Subway Shootout was interesting to a team from Southeast. “We get a chance to see a different part of Alaska that most of these kids haven’t experienced. The terrain and the weather is completely different than down in Southeast. I like doing these things with them because we’ve got a big state and I think it’s important for them to see the rest of it. The culture here is different than ours. And they’re making friends from all around the state. That’s a vital part of it, too.”
Pat Callahan pointed out some of the interconnected relationships in the tourney. “I think it’s the first time Petersburg has been to Nome for any kind of athletic event. Grace Christian coach Jason Boerger coached here in Nome before me from 2001 to 2003. Thurman Jack, the Unalakleet coach went to high school here and his dad was a long time coach in Nome and Western Alaska. A lot of neat little tie-ins. Rick Brock, who has coached 29 years at Petersburg, the most consecutive years in Alaska. His brother Dino Brock coaches the girls and is just a couple of years behind him.”
The Nome-Beltz pep band made a good showing with new director Ahne Schield in charge. She played saxophone and former Nome music director Ron Horner was there on his trumpet. One difference from last year is that the cow bell has been moved to the fore and plays a prominent role. “There’s always been cowbell here and there but we did bring a few trinkets for percussionists, some of the alumni people who wanted to join in or students who didn’t have their instruments,” said Schield. Asked about new music she replied that so far there’ve been no changes. “It’s the same as last year, stuff they’d had in the rep for a while. Even when I was a student I played some of this same music. Ron added a few throughout the years so I plan to do the same as we get through the season. I’ve had some suggestions from kids like The Ride of the Valkyries or the Me Theme.”
Don’t forget: The Kotzebue Huskies will be here next Friday and Saturday!