Petersburg High School’s boys basketball team beat Metlakatla 58-52 Friday night to claim the 2A region title and clinch a spot at the state tournament this week. The girls team saw their season come to an end with a loss Friday to Wrangell.
The Vikings split their season series with the Metlakatla Chiefs, winning two at home early in the season and then losing two in Metlakatla in the final weeks. But Petersburg took the one that mattered at the regional tournament, holding on for a 58-52 victory.
Petersburg coach Rick Brock points out all four regular season games between the two teams were close battles but he thought his team really hit its stride in that championship game.
“I was real happy to see us finish the tournament playing well as a team again and looking more comfortable on the court,” Brock said. “You know I had a lot of people say that was just a well-played hard fought ball game. I take my hat off to Metlakatla and their kids, quality kids, quality program, quality coach. And for us to beat them was a tough task. Real happy for our boys to step up to the challenge and play well. And we had a great crowd, the cheerleaders were getting judged that game and we always have a great pep band but that gym was pretty loud especially for a 2A game. There was a lot of people there and we had great fan support. It really helped us.”
Stewart Conn led the team in scoring with 24 points, Wolf Brooks scored 15, Alan McCay nine and Blaine Volk put in seven for the Vikings. It made a difference to have Brooks back on the court after he was injured in Metlakatla in February. The Chiefs went on to beat Wrangell for the number two seed in the region.
The Vikings got to the championship game with a narrow 38-35 win over the Wrangell Wolves in the opening round of the tournament.
Conn, Brooks, McCay and Mark Neidiffer were named to the all conference team. Brooks and Louden Sandhofer won good sports awards and Blaine Volk won the free throw contest between all the 2A-3A and 4A schools in at the regional competition.
Brock said it feels good to win that region title. “I always say getting out of our conference to head north is I think just as difficult as being successful at state, especially with the quality of coaches, the traditionally strong programs, and then you never know what’s gonna happen at tournament, so real happy to get out of there with the number one seed.”
The top seed in Southeast this year is only good enough for the number three seed at the state tournament. The defending champs Unalaska, who beat the Vikings in the state championship last year, are the top seed while Unalakleet holds the number two spot. The Vikings didn’t get a chance to play either team this year but watched the two play each other during a tournament in Anchorage at the start of the season.
“You know obviously I think Unalaska coming back in and being seeded number one is everybody’s favorite but I think there are 4 or 5 teams who if they get on a roll could cut the nets,” coach Brock said.
Petersburg opens up the tournament against Point Hope, also known as Tikigaq, on Thursday. March 16 at 5 p.m.
Petersburg’s girls team won one and lost two at the regional tournament, knocked out of contention Friday morning by Wrangell 30-19. Maddy Parker, Chandler Stickland and Katie Brock each scored six points in that game for Petersburg.
The Craig Lady Panthers took the region crown, upsetting top seed Metlakatla. The MissChiefs battled back for the second seed. Petersburg’s girls coach Dino Brock thought the competition was tough.
“You know the teams in our league I think Craig and Metlakatla will represent themselves very well up at the state level,” Brock said. “Wrangell obviously has a good young squad, Haines is very competitive. So the teams in our league are very good. And I thought that we did a very good job up there.”
Losing the opening round game to Craig meant the Lady Vikings has to play at 8 a.m. both Thursday and Friday, but Brock did not think that affected Petersburg’s game. It did hurt Petersburg not having injured senior Emma Chase in the lineup for all three games.
“Yeah obviously you take one of the top players in the league off of any team and you can see the difference,” the coach said. “Her leadership, her scoring obviously, rebounding were missed. But the kids that were on the floor really stepped up and did a very nice job.”
Chase and Strickland were named to the all-conference team. All three seniors, Chase, Strickland and Sydney Guthrie made the all-academic team and Guthrie and Katie Brock won good sports awards.
Coach Brock called it a good season for his team. “I thought we played very well. We were competitive with everybody that we played from the start of the season when we went 3-1 up in the Rally the Regions in Anchorage all the way through our season. We gave our best against everybody we played. We took Metlakatla which is the second ranked team in the state right now to a 3 point loss at home, we beat Wrangell 3 out of 4 times. Just overall a very, very good season for us.”
Younger players got some valuable experience at the regional tournament and will be counted on as Strickland, Chase and Guthrie graduate this year. Brock thinks Bristol Bay is the favorite to take the state title this week in Anchorage.
Petersburg High School’s cheer squad also took first in the region among 2A schools and the team’s score was good enough to beat the larger schools in Southeast as well.
The team cheered, performed and was judged during the Region Five basketball tournament in Juneau last week.
Coach Becky Fortna says her squad was judged on its cheering and routine during the boys championship game against Metlakatla on Friday night and says that performance was the team’s best. Fortna says she’s very proud of the team for hitting all stunts and wowing the crowd.
All three seniors on the team Victoria Wegener, Morgan Swihart and Buddy Stelmach made the all-academic team. Also three were named to the all-tournament team, Wegener, Martha Johnson and Julia Evens. The squad will perform at the state competition next week in Anchorage.