Petersburg High School basketball teams open up conference play in Southeast Alaska in Haines after four games at a tournament in Anchorage. After postponing games this weekend, they have been set for Monday and Tuesday. Monday: Girls at 5:30pm, Boys at 7pm Tuesday: Boys at 12noon, Girls at 1:30pm As Joe Viechnicki reports, both boys and girls teams return some experienced players from last year’s state champion and runner up squads.

The defending state 2A champion Petersburg girls team is 3-1 on the new season after the Rally the Regions tournament in Anchorage. Coach Dino Brock thought it was a great tournament.

“Thought it was really well organized, really well run,” Brock said. “Got to see some of the better teams in the state, including Bristol Bay. So just very happy all the way around I thought that we played better and better which is really the goal at this point in the season. It was nice to come up with three wins against quality opponents. Overall just a great weekend.”
Petersburg beat Cordova and the West High JV team before losing to Bristol Bay. That was the team Petersburg beat for the state championship last spring. The Lady Vikings closed out the tournament with a win over Unalakleet. Bristol Bay beat Metlakatla in the girls championship.

Emma Chase was named to the all-tournament team for Petersburg. The team graduated some talented seniors last year, including the player of the year Kylie Wallace. But they also return some of the players from that team. Brock said it’s a mix of experience for this year’s squad. “We’ve got a lot of younger kids that are getting varsity playing time right now but the starters and we’ve really got six kids that are pretty experienced and then four that haven’t been through the program but are learning quickly and did a very nice job up there,” Brock said.

Meanwhile the boys team was state runner up last year, losing in the finals to Unalaska. The Vikings were able to watch Unalaska play in Anchorage but didn’t get a rematch despite going 4-0. Petersburg didn’t get to play in the championship game, losing a coin flip to Unalakleet. Unalaska beat Unalakleet in that championship game. Petersburg wound up the tournament with a 74-47 win over Aniak and also had wins over Cordova, Dillingham and Bristol Bay.

The Vikings are led by four seniors Wolf Brooks, Stewart Conn, Blaine Volk and Alan McKay. Coach Rick Brock said some underclassmen are also getting some playing time. “Yeah we got seven guys back from last year’s team but we got a couple of freshmen, Gunnar Payne and Rylin Wallace who went with us with the seven guys who returned, they did a nice job fitting in well to what we’re doing,” Brock said. “Louden Sandhofer is a sophomore, didn’t play a lot of varsity last year got a lot of time on the floor. And then got a couple of juniors Mark Neidiffer and Dale Strong who both played quite a bit of varsity last year especially Mark and then of course we got the four seniors back Wolf and Stewart and Blaine and Alan.”

Brock liked the chance to watch some of the top teams in the state at the early season tournament in Anchorage. He thinks the competition is going to be better than it was last year in Southeast.

“Craig and Haines return some of their better young players from last season,” Brock said. “We got a chance to watch Metlakatla play a few times up there and they’re very good. I think they’re better than they were last year. And then Wrangell is always tough. So our league is going to be stronger. We’re going to have to be better. And then what I like too with our schedule is we play a lot of road games at the beginning, lot of home games near the end. But we play a home and home with Ketchikan towards the end or middle of February . And they’re one of the best teams in the state so that will be able to push us a little further, really tell where we’re at within our season so I do like our schedule.”

Both teams are in Haines this weekend and the games count for conference seeding. The first home games for the girls are February 13 against Craig and for the boys it’s the following weekend against Metlakatla.