The Toksook Bay Islanders, huge underdogs going into their final games of the state tournament, are this year’s 1A state basketball champions.
By the time the Islanders upset the second-seeded Lumen Christi boys team in the March 18 semifinal match, sixth-seeded Toksook Bay had already exceeded expectations.
Then, in the March 19 championship game, the Islanders took down the top-seeded Tanana Wolves. The Islanders used their speed and ball handling to match up against Wolves’ size.
The final score was 51-47.
Tanana jumped out to an early 8-0 lead in the first quarter. But by halftime, Toksook Bay cut that lead down to two.
After several lead changes in the third quarter, Toksook Bay led by as many as 15 before weathering a Tanana comeback at the very end.
Tooksook Bay held on despite seeing their lead shrink to three in the final minute.
Toksook Bay point guard Abraham Julius, a senior, finished the game with 21 points, three steals, and six deflections. For his all around effort, he was awarded player of the game.
Julius said that it took the Islanders’ best game of the season to beat the formidable Wolves.
“They’re a complete squad. But I don’t know, their shots weren’t going in like the previous games. And our shots were,” Julius said.
Center Colton Angaiak, another senior, added another 11 points and pulled down 16 rebounds. That was especially impressive because Angaiak was the only big man on the Islanders, battling three bigs on the opposing Wolves.
“It was more challenging,” Angaiak said. “A lot of big guys around me. Taller than me.”
Toksook Bay coach Simeon Lincoln said his team tried to take advantage of the fact that Tanana only had seven players.
“We saw how good they were, and we wanted them to get into foul trouble cause they had a limited number of players,” Lincoln said.
After a storybook ending to their tournament, Lincoln said that he told his team to enjoy the moment.
“Let’s go home and celebrate. Let’s bring home the trophy. Let’s go have fun. Let’s be happy,” Lincoln said.
Another Lower Kuskokwim School District team, the Scammon Bay Eagles, finished fifth in the state tournament. They fell to Lumen Christi 74-59 in their last game of the season. Players and coaches said that they were hungry to come back stronger next year.