Ninilchik boys move to state final; Nanwalek sees season end

The Ninilchik boys basketball team advanced to the championship game of the Class 2A state tournament with a 77-57 victory over Unalakleet on Friday at the Alaska Airlines Center.

The Wolverines moved to 25-0 and will seek their third state title, and first since 2017, in Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. final.

No. 4 seed Unalakleet used a quick start to become just the fourth team this season to lose to No. 1 seed Ninilchik by 20 points or less. The Wolfpack led 14-4 after the first six minutes of the game and 16-10 after the first quarter. Unalakleet was on its way to shooting 47% in the first half, while the Wolverines were at 33%.

Even with the cold shooting, the Wolverines were able to do enough things right to take a 32-27 lead at halftime. For the game, Ninilchik had 10 turnovers to the 21 of Unalakleet. The Wolverines also won the rebounding battle 38-31.

Ninilchik took a 47-40 lead into the final quarter, but starter Jaylin Scott found himself on the bench with four fouls. Senior Blake Lemons came off the bench to hit a huge 3-pointer for Ninilchik, then Landon Colburn and Cole Moore also had treys and Justin Trail had a layup as Ninilchik built the lead to 58-42.

The Wolfpack fought back, with Johnny Soderstrom hitting a 3-pointer with just under 5 minutes left for a 58-50 game.

Colburn then took control of the game, scoring eight points on drives to the rim, while Lukah Kalugin also scored on a drive, as the Wolverines led 68-50 with around 3 minutes left.

Ninilchik was able to shoot 52% in the second half and 42% for the game, while the Wolfpack were 34% in the second half and 40% for the game.

Kalugin led Ninilchik with 24 points, with his offense keeping the Wolverines afloat in the first half. Colburn had 23 points, with 19 of those coming in the second half.

Cole Moore also got hot in the second half, netting 17 points, while Scott and Trail had five, and Lemons had three.

For the Wolfpack, Cody Ivanoff came out hot, scoring 26 points. Soderstrom had eight, while Carter Commack had seven, Kanayaq Ivanoff and Kael Erickson had six, and Johnathon Katchatag had four.

Newhalen boys 74, Nanwalek 54

The Malamutes, the No. 8 seed, toppled No. 13 Nanwalek 74-54 in the consolation semifinals. The Eagles saw their season end, but not without the first state trip in program history and the first state victory in program history.

Newhalen led 18-10 after the first quarter and stretched the lead to 44-23 at halftime. The Malamutes rolled up a big advantage from 3-point land, hitting 13 treys while the Eagles had three.

Newhalen’s Vinny Cobb hit six 3-pointers on the way to a game-high 30 points. Also for the Malamutes, Michael Tretikoff had 18, David Miller had 13, Gabriel Olympic had 10, Calib Joseph had two and Ian Anelon had one.

Matthias Evans had 25 points and 10 rebounds to pace Nanwalek, while Sean Moonin pitched in 17 points. Also for the Eagles, Tikhon Kvasnikoff had nine, Alexander Jimmy had two and Julius Kvasnikoff had one. Cruz Kvasnikoff played, but did not score.

The Eagles will lose Tikhon Kvasnikoff, Julius Kvasnikoff and Jimmy to graduation.

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