Web posted Thursday, April 4, 2002

photo: sports

Ninilchik's Jesse Hostetter pulls down a rebound in front of Cook Inlet Academy's Jacob Peterson during the second quarter of Friday's District 3/2A championship.
Photo by M. Scott Moon

Ninilchik grabs title in squeaker

by Sepp Jannotta
Staff Writer

The last time the Ninilchik High School boys basketball team went to the Alaska's class 2A state tournament Ronald Reagan was in the White House. The Wolverines' current assistant coach Keith Presley was a player when Ninilchik last made the cut, in 1987.

But following Ninilchik's dramatic 49-48 win Friday night over Cook Inlet Academy in the title game of the District 3 tournament at Skyview High in Soldotna, Wolverine coach Chris Hanson downplayed the past, saying simply that his players' time had come.

"I really don't play that up much," Hanson said of the drought. "What I can say is this team is hungry and we're ready to take care of business."

While the Wolverines did just that in a game that was close from start to finish, CIA was unable to take care of business on the free-throw line after Luke Myers was fouled on a three-point shot in the final seconds with the score 49-46. After sinking the first two free-throws, Myers clanked the would-be tying shot off the rim and time expired.


Ninilchikpis Steven Miller and Cook Inletpis Bryan Powers collide in the fourth quarter of Fridaypis championship game.
Photo by M. Scott Moon

Defensively, Ninilchik's John Matson was all business, shutting down CIA's Jacob Peterson and holding him without a point for the game. Matson scored nine points, while Steve Miller led the Wolverines with 15.

"We told him that he had to step up (against Peterson,)" said Hanson. "And he went out there and completely took him out of the game."

On Saturday, with the other District 3 berth to the state tournament on the line in the consolation final, Peterson and the Eagles ended the wild ride of Nikolaevsk with a 57-40 win.

The Warriors found themselves one win away from a trip to state after knocking off Unalaska 34-31 Saturday morning.

"Playing two games in a day is always an extra challenge," Nikolaevsk coach Steve Klaich said. "But when you get to the championship, a lot's adrenaline and emotion, which is what we've thrived on all year."

Utilizing that energy, the Warriors played their typical frenetic and dogged style, which had the Eagles in a funk early, but the inside size advantage for CIA began to take a toll as Peterson and Justin Franchino began to get a lot of looks at the basket. Franchino scored 16 points for the Eagles.

Peter Tipikin finished with a game-high 23 points for the Warriors. Tipikin also had 12 points in the morning game while Stepan Nikitenko netted14 against Unalaska.

<> Peninsula Clarion reporter Will Morrow contributed to this story.