Games against Bethel highlight Nanooks basketball
Lady Nanooks Double OT
Teams from Nome-Beltz got a heavy dose of the Bethel Warriors last weekend as both varsity squads traveled south for three-team tournaments, while junior high squads from Bethel traveled north to Nome.
The most exciting contest of the weekend was turned in by the varsity girls squad in their game against the Lady Warriors. With her team down by one in regulation on Thursday night, Nanooks senior Senora Ahmasuk drove the lane for two points that tied the score at 28-28, and sent the game to overtime.
The Warriors appeared to have this game in hand with a 34-31 lead. That’s when sophomore Kerry Ahmasuk decided to give her family more to talk about at this week’s dinner table than her older sister’s shot, as she sank a three-pointer with a mere 0.3 seconds on the clock to send the game into double overtime.
The Nanooks delivered another outstanding defensive effort in the final overtime. They had held Bethel to two second-quarter points, and three fourth-quarter points, and were able to hold them to three in the second overtime. The trouble, however, was Nome could only muster a foul shot by Senora during that time, and ended up losing to the host Warriors 37-35.
During the contest, Kerry took another step toward establishing herself as the team’s second offensive weapon as all five of her made shots came off of treys. She led the team with 15 points while Senora contributed nine.
The Ahmasuks’ combined total of 24 points was two shy of the sum put up by Bethel’s dynamic duo of Courtney Williams and Haley O'Brien who scored 13 apiece.
“We are getting better every week,” said head coach Don Stiles at the end of the weekend. “Kerry is getting more confident in her shooting.”
The Lady Nanooks fell to the LadyWolves of Sitka on Friday night by a score 48-38. They were led by Senora’s 11 points, while Sitka was paced by Zosha Krups, who scored 15. Nome beat the 1A New Halen Malemutes 67-50 on Saturday in a contest that saw Senora score 31 points. Newhalen was led by Ashleanne Ishnook, who scored 17.
Nome was playing without junior guard Sonja Hukill, who is out at least four weeks with a broken hand. “That messes with our rotation,” said Stiles. Hukill, a defensive specialist, usually subs in for junior starter Ivory Okleasik, one of the team’s top defenders.
Bethel beat Sitka 26-25 to take first place in the tournament. The Nanooks 1-2 record for the weekend dropped their season mark to 6-7.
Stiles said the statewide girls basketball scene is unsettled. Last weekend Mt. Edgecumbe beat Barrow, but then lost to Sitka, who in turn lost to Houston. Of the year-end state gathering he said, “It’s anybody’s tournament to win. It’ll be a matter of who shows up and who is peaking at the right time.”
Nome-Beltz varsity boys
The Nanook boys lost all three of their contests in Bethel. They dropped Thursday’s game to the Warriors 57-29, Friday’s contest to Sitka 62-46, and Saturday’s meeting with the 4A Kenai Kardinals 67-39. They were led in scoring over the three days by Mikey Scott’s 34 points. Bobby Koezuna led the team with 15 against Sitka. The three losses brought the boys season record to 2-11.
“This tournament was loaded,” said Nanooks head coach Pat Callahan as he reflected on his team’s performance Sunday night. Not only did his squad contend with a larger 4A team, but also they played the powerhouse Wolves. “Sitka is favored to win the Southeast (Conference),” he said. “Sitka looks like the third best team in the state (at the 3A level).”
Callahan remains hopeful of his team’s chances within the region. “If we beat Kotz (next weekend) we have a chance to not play Barrow (in the opening round at the conference tournament).”
Both varsity squads will travel to Kotzebue next weekend for a three-team tournament. The Houston Hawks and 2A Point Hope Harpooners will also attend.
Junior High Action in Nome
Strong junior high squads from Bethel provided tough challenges for the junior high teams from Nome-Beltz. The junior high Lady Nanooks dropped all three of their games by scores of 32-15, 24-12, and 33-10. Leading scorers for Nome were Shayna Warnke-Green, Ellie Martinson, Maggie Miller and Katelyn Tocktoo.
The girls were led over the weekend by assistant coach Vallerie Fuller. She says one of the tasks the team has had to work through were 6:00 a.m. practices every day. “It was tough at first, but now that we’ve gotten into the swing of it, it has gotten easier,” she said. Fuller said some members of the Nome squad had never played team sports before, and others had some nerves. “It’s tough to face these teams. Bethel has experience,” she said. The other challenge the team faced was doling out playing time to 18 different girls. Bethel had an easier time building team chemistry on the court since they suited up the same nine girls for each game. None-the-less, Fuller was proud of her squad. “The girls on the bench were helpful,” she said. “They encouraged their teammates, and watched and learned.” Fuller had coaching help from Rhonda Sparks. The Nome-Beltz junior high boys also lost three games. Game scores against the Warriors were 65-37, 60-24, and 59-21. They were lead in scoring by Stephan Anderson, Joey Tocktoo, Kenneth Hafner, Marcos Ornelos and Jesse Kuzuguk. Erik Lie is in his eighth year at the helm as the junior high boys coach. “I love the game,” he says. “I love to see their growth from the beginning of the season to the end. It’s just awesome to watch.” Lie too, had the challenge of getting playing time to a large number of his crew against a squad of only nine. “I was really impressed with my team,” he said. “They got better, and got more positive each game.”