State preview: Last chance for Seldovia Six

A core group of six players from Seldovia has been through nearly everything since they started playing together in the sixth grade in the tiny town located across from Homer on Kachemak Bay.

There was middle school success, then tough times in early high school, then a string of successes this season and last.

But the one thing those players have not experienced is also something Seldovia has not experienced — a championship in a true statewide basketball tournament. The closest the town came was in 2000, when the girls lost in the Class 2A final 55-31 to the runaway dynasty that was Ninilchik.

Seldovia starts play in the Class 1A tournament Saturday at Wells Fargo Gym with a 3:30 p.m. game against Kotlik.

“We definitely have a feeling that if Seldovia was to ever get a shot at the state trophy, this is the group to do it,” Seldovia boys head coach Mark Janes said. “I’ve looked through the trophy cases, and since they started doing a true state tournament I don’t think Seldovia has ever brought home a trophy.

“With the core of juniors, we still have a shot at it next year, but we’ve gotten this far. We’ve got to take a shot at it.”

The core group leading the Sea Otters into March Madness Alaska is seniors Seth O’Leary and Chance Haller, and juniors Aidan Philpot, Calem Collier, Robert Waterbury and Dylan Waterbury.

Seldovia is not going to turn any heads getting off the bus, but once they get on the floor and the coordination of their movements and basketball skills start to flow, the reason for success is evident.

The Sea Otters won the Peninsula Conference tournament last season, then finished third at the Class 1A tournament.

This year’s squad again won the Peninsula Conference and finished at 18-2, winning its last 15 games.

The two losses came to the junior varsity teams of Soldotna and Kenai Central. And close games came against Ninilchik, featuring 6-foot-8 Austin White.

“Those teams had some height and tough defense inside,” Janes said. “We can run with most teams, but if they start packing the paint and we can’t get to the rim, we have problems.”

Janes said that in a poll of Alaska coaches, the Sea Otters and Fort Yukon have been trading off as the top 1A team all season.

Fort Yukon and Seldovia were both at the Nenana Invitational Tournament. The squads didn’t meet, but Seldovia won the tournament.

Those two squads are on opposite sides of the bracket, but Janes said it’s too early to think that far ahead.

He said 6-foot-2 Turkish exchange student Sami Ozyildirim provides some height for his squad, but the Sea Otters always have to be wary about coming up against a bigger, physical team out of a remote part of the state.

Janes’ knowledge of Kotlik is typical of that for 1A first-round matchups, and that is little to none. But the coach said his team has the advantage of being through the whole experience once.

“With last year’s appearance, there will be less jitters and we will be more focused on getting the job done,” he said.

More in Sports

Kenai Central's Sawyer Vann controls Nikiski's Wyatt Maguire at 125 pounds Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. Vann notched a 7-6 victory. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Area wrestlers collect mat time before Thanksgiving break

Area wrestlers got in some mat time Tuesday before the Thanksgiving break.… Continue reading

Soldotna junior Liam Babitt holds a grip on South Anchorage’s Britten Hamilton during the 215-pound final of the Lancer Smith Fall Varsity 2021 Invite on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at the Menard Arena in Wasilla, Alaska. (Photo by Jeremiah Bartz/Frontiersman)
Soldotna crowns 4 champions at Lancer Smith

The Soldotna wrestling team finished fourth Friday and Saturday at the Lancer… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Bryce Monrean tries to find a way through the defense of the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues during a first-period power play Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Jr. Blues come back to take series from Bears

The Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues lost not only a 2020-21 season to… Continue reading

Assistant coach Taylor Shaw leads the Kenai River Brown Bears during a game Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears start search for new head coach

The Kenai River Brown Bears issued a press release Friday about staff… Continue reading

tease
Hockey roundup: SoHi sweeps in Kodiak; West wins End of Road tourney

The Soldotna hockey team swept Kodiak in the first high school games… Continue reading

A brown bear feeds on a salmon. (Photo by C. Canterbury/USFWS)
Refuge Notebook: Bears, uniquely built to respond to winter

With the new snow and temperatures dipping into the single digits, you… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Caden Warren surveys the ice against West at the End of the Road Tournament at Kevin Bell Arena in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Kenai, Homer hockey lose to open tourney

The Kenai Central and Homer hockey teams both opened the End of… Continue reading

Caden Triggs of the Kenai River Brown Bears celebrates his first-period goal against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears topple Jr. Blues

By JEFF HELMINIAK Peninsula Clarion The Kenai River Brown Bears received two… Continue reading

Michael proposes to Sarah at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: Falling in love one snowflake at a time

Do you want to know what I’ve been looking forward to the… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Caden Triggs carries the puck against Anchorage Wolverines defenseman Campbell Cichosz on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears to host 1st place Jr. Blues

The current stretch of the schedule for the Kenai River Brown Bears… Continue reading

Soldotna's Isaac Chavarria wrestles to a major decision over Kenai Central's Andrew Gaethle at 152 pounds during a dual meet at Kenai Central High School on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi wrestlers take dual meet from Kenai

The visiting Soldotna wrestling team defeated Kenai Central 69-6 in a dual… Continue reading