State High School Basketball Tournament tips-off Thursday featuring 7 interior teams
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The state’s Interior Region will be well represented at the Alaska High School State Basketball Tournament March 25-27 at various schools in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
The Monroe Catholic Girls punched their tickets to their first state appearance since 2011 nearly two weeks ago when they defeated the Valdez Buccaneers 71-35 in the Aurora Conference Championship game. The Rams will look to continue to build on their historic season that featured wins over much larger 4A programs that they have not defeated in over 15 years. The Blue and Gold are led by five Aurora All-Conference Members in Matteah Felix, Shelby Eidenmiller, Maggie Zaverl, Jane Menard and the Conference MVP Katie Bast. Monroe is head coached by Bob Burcell, with their opening-round matchup coming at 4:45 p.m. Thursday against the Nome-Beltz Nanooks at Palmer Middle School.
The Hutchison program received word that they will be attending the state tournament, despite not qualifying during the conference tournament. The Valdez Buccaneers have been pulled from the bracket due to COVID-19 protocols and will be replaced by the Hawks, who fell to the Bucs in the 2nd place game of the Aurora Conference tournament. The Hawks are led by their graduating class of Cora Black, Leigha Rosenthal, Sydney Johnston, Destiny Felix and Sophia Berg under first-year head coach Bobby Carter. Replacing Valdez, the Hawks will face the Kotzebue Huskies at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Palmer Middle.
The Monroe Boys are looking to snatch back the Class 3A crown, winning their last state title in 2014. The Rams will represent Fairbanks at the state tournament for the 10th consecutive time possible, all under head coach Frank Ostanik, after winning the Aurora Conference tournament. Their championship journey begins at 8:15 Thurdsay against the Grace Christian Grizzlies at Colony High School, a program they defeated in both meetings this year. The roster consists of All-Conference members Quinn McHenry, Malachi Bradley, MVP Jase McCullough and starting guard Tommy Bast.
The Delta Huskies are going dancing after their name was called on Selection Sunday as an at-large bid. They’ll be making their first appearance at the state tournament since 2017, when they tied for 7th. The squad is led by their senior duo of Austin Durham and Ben Bialik, while first-year head coach Sam Adams runs the sidelines. Their tournament begins Thursday at 6:45 p.m. against the Nome-Beltz Nanooks at Colony High, looking to make the most of their at-large berth.
As both Valdez programs were removed from the state tournament, Hutch will also be filling in for the Bucs on the boys side of the bracket. They are also coached by Carter, as are the girls, though there is no scheduling conflicts yet for the Hawks between the two programs. A trio of seniors will anchor the program in their first appearance since 2015 in Cormac Kesey, Tavin Kriska and Andre Charlie, while junior Ryan Young will provide the outside scoring. Their first matchup is against the Anchorage Christian School Lions at 3 p.m. Thursday at Colony. The Hawks won the Class 3A State Championship in 2009.
The Lathrop Girls, coming off a Mid Alaska Conference Championship, will be looking to improve upon their 6th place finish at the 2017 state tournament. They are led by their duo they call ‘Fire and Ice’, senior Tristian Martin and TT Tagovailoa, as well as fellow All-Conference member Torrin Johnson-Oates. Coached by Dave Stewart, the Malamutes will open their tournament with the Dimond Lynx at 8:15 p.m. at Wasilla High School. Their last state tournament title came in 1992, which was the most recent Fairbanks 4A State Champion on either the boy’s or girl’s side.
The West Valley Wolfpack are looking to bring the school their first state title since 1990. A favorite heading into the state tournament last year before it was canceled, the Wolfpack are returning with another strong roster. The Red and Gold are led by a quartet of All-Conference members in Judah Ward, Tyriq Luke, Stewart Erhart and MVP Cortarius Mingo under head coach Colten Growden. They will tip-off against the Wasilla Warriors, a program they defeated earlier this season, at 4:45 p.m. Thursday at Palmer High.
Continue to monitor webcenterfairbanks.com and tune into the broadcasts at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. nightly for recaps of all the action.
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