Rivalries make for intense hoops
Whether the game is played in Nome or Kotzebue, the rivalry between the two teams packs the gym and ratchets the level of intensity up a few levels. Last week’s games between the Nanooks and the Huskies in Nome were fought hard and close with no game decided by more than four points. All four games went down to the final seconds.
Friday night the Lady Nanooks were down 13 at half-time. Kotzebue was dominant, their shots were dropping, and one had to be a true believer to hope for a Nome victory.
“They weren’t playing to their potential in the first half,” said coach Joe Musich. “I knew that if they came out and played a little bit harder defense then that would pick up the offense for them and they did.” The Nugget observed they were much sharper when they came out of the locker room and asked if he’d said something motivating to them. “I said a few things, for sure. Nothing too harsh though.”
In the second half the Lady Nanooks outscored the Huskies 37 to 19 to win 54 to 49. E.J. Rochon led Nome with 13 points.
In the boys game Friday Kotzebue outscored Nome 18 to 10 in the fourth quarter to tie it up and force an overtime. Henry Sherman then scored 11 of his 17 points for Kotzebue and the Huskies won 61 to 57. The Friday night crowd got its money’s worth.
Saturday’s games were just as intense and just as close. The boys went first and Nome defeated Kotzebue by one point after Gareth Hansen hit two free throws with four seconds left. The final score was 49 to 48. In the girls game the Huskies outscored the Lady Nanooks 15 to 8 in the third quarter to capture the victory 55 to 52.
Going up against a traditional rival can make the game more important than it might otherwise be. “It’s definitely more intense knowing who you’re playing against,” said Lady Nanook Kastyn Lie. “During the Subway Showdown you didn’t really know anybody but playing Kotzebue is really intense and you want to win.”
The Nugget asked Jade Hill, the Kotzebue girls coach, if the rivalry intensifies the game. “Yes, it does,” she said. “Every single time. And I think both gyms and both communities always come out just ready to have a good basketball game.” Asked what she saw in the Nanooks she said it was the first time this season she’d seen them play in person. “They’re different girls, a whole new team this year pretty much and so we had to get used to that, to see what they are doing. I have a really young team so it’s a teaching game every single time. One senior, three sophomores, and the rest freshmen.”
Lady Nanook coach Joe Musich agreed on the rivalry raising the stakes. “Absolutely,” he replied. “Both teams really want to win those games.” He also praised his team. “They continue to get better and they’re playing really confident right now.”
“Our games against Nome are ones we circle every year,” said Kotzebue boys coach Abe Lambert. “It’s tradition. You get up for tradition to keep it alive. You keep it alive by getting fired up for it. We enjoy coming to Nome. It’s a good place for basketball.”
“I heard a coach say years ago there’s two goals in a season, a serious goal and a fun goal” said Nanook coach Pat Callahan. “The serious goal is to qualify for the post season, meaning to make it to the state tournament. The fun goal is to beat your rival. I appreciate that we have a rival. In Nome you know who your rival is and that’s Kotzebue. That’s a rivalry game and it’s a packed gym and everybody is all in and it’s a lot of fun. It’s fun to be a part of a true rivalry.”
While there was high quality action on the court there was plenty of action in the concessions as well. Nome eighth graders were working hard to earn money for their upcoming Washington D.C. trip. Jill Peters, a special education teacher, is the coordinator for the D.C. trip. “Basically it’s a lot of on the job training,” she answered when asked about organizing the concessions team. “I meet with them sometimes before hand and say when you work the booth this is what you need to do and this is how you should act, and this is what I expect from you when it’s over. You stay and clean up. I train them how to make a smoothie, I train them how to make popcorn right before their shift starts. We do so many different fundraisers.” The concessions are shared with other groups also raising funds. For the Subway Showdown the D.C. Trip group cleared about $6,000.
“These are kids who are fundraising for the Washington D.C. trip. Their parents are not the ones who are coming in and working,” said Peters. “My students, my eighth graders, come in every weekend. They work, they fundraise, they are making all the money themselves. This way when they go to Washington D.C. they appreciate the trip more because they have worked every weekend to earn their money and they start to understand the value of saving rather than instant gratification.”
On Wednesday the Nome varsity basketball teams will play at Monroe-Catholic in Fairbanks. The two teams then travel to Delta for the Dean Cumming’s Memorial basketball tournament. Playing in the tournament will be the following eight teams: NBHS, Kotzebue, Bethel, Seward, North Pole, Unalaska and Hutchison. Nome will open up with North Pole on Thursday at 12 Noon and 1:30 p.m.. Delta Tourney brackets will be posted at the Nome-Beltz Student Activities Facebook page.
Lady Nanooks 54 - Kotzebue 49
NBHS - Rochon 13, Lie 12, Anungazuk 10, Kuzuguk 5, Medlin 10, Gray 4
KHS - Conwell 10, Martin 6, Swanson 15, Gallahorn 6, Schaeffer 5, Short 5, Hughes 2
Kotzebue Boys 61- NBHS 57 (to)
NBHS - Otton 3, Evans 5, Schaeffer 6, Hanebuth 2, Anderson 26, Hansen 15
KHS - Sherman 17, Nelson 8, Bergan 17, Hensley 8, Williamson 2, Sheldon 9
Nome Boys 49 - Kotzebue 48
NBHS - Hafner 2, Evatt 4, Evans 9, Schaeffer 8, Hanebuth 2, Anderson 12, Hansen 12
KHS - Sherman 15, Nelson 2, Bergan 12, Hensley 12, Sheldon 7
Lady Huskies 55 -NBHS 52
NBHS - Witrosky 2, Rochon 19, Lie 13, Anungazuk 7, Kuzuguk 2, Medlin 7, Gray 2
KHS - Conwell 16, Martin 5, Swanson 9, Gallahorn 21, Schaeffer 2, Short 2