Nanook basketball is back
The Nanook basketball teams lit up the gym Friday and Saturday evenings against some pretty sharp alumni teams.
On Friday the Lady Nanooks defeated their big sisters 62 to 37 in a game that was more evenly matched than the score would indicate. Players on the alumnae squad ranged from Lisa Okbaok, who graduated last year, to Heather Ongtowasruk, who graduated in the class of 2000.
For the Lady Nanooks Della Medlin, Ayla Knodel and Aralye Lie scored 12 points each to lead a balanced attack. Lisa Okbaok led the alums with 10.
“I’m super stoked that we got to play,” said Della Medlin. Her sister Daynon was on the alumnae squad. She’s been working in Nome but is soon headed back to college. “She knows my strong points, I know her weak points,” said Della. “We’re like the dynamic duo. We’ve got a new team, we’re all pretty raw. In practices we’re all in synch together and it’s just awesome.”
The alumnae reported they’d been conditioning together and that they’ve been playing together forever. Krystal Hensley, who graduated in 2006, said she was impressed with the young girls.
“I’m really excited about this group of girls because they’ve all got an absolutely fantastic attitude,” said head coach Brooks Fry. “They are coachable and supportive of each other. As far as teamwork and supporting each other they’re as good as it gets. When you’ve got girls with that good an attitude you just have good stuff happening.”
This coming Saturday the Lady Nanooks will play the junior varsity boys. “Our girls will go up against the JV boys and see how we can match up with them.”
As for future games Coach Fry says he’s keeping his fingers crossed and hoping something will come up. The Bering Strait School District school board meets Feb. 4 and 5 and will then decide whether travel between villages will be allowed. It’s possible the Lady Nanooks will be able to match up with Unalakleet and other villages.
The boys team met a tough alumni team Saturday night and they also prevailed 55 to 36. That game also was closer than the score would suggest, with the old guys battling to within 8 points in the final quarter. High scorer for the Nanooks was Stephan Anderson with 26 points. One the alumni side Jens Irelan tallied 16. “They’re pretty awesome kids,” said alum Skye Shipton. “They’re aggressive on the inside, that’s their game.”
The team did a lot of outside shooting, more than in games last season, but Coach Callahan was not impressed. “Well, not very good outside shooting,” he said. “Not very much offense, hope to get there, hope to get better. We need to start believing in our offense. We saw it a little bit in flashes but you’ve got to play games. It’s one thing to do a five-on zero against nobody in practice but something else to do it when it matters a little bit.”
He agreed the alumni team brought a good game to the gym. “Appreciate them coming out and there’s going to be some more of them,” said Callahan. “I think we kind of had a mindset that we were going to win easy. I’m glad we didn’t. I was happy with the guys who came out to play. I think we overlooked them and thought it was going to be easy and I think every year teams figure out that it’s not easy. It’s never easy. Unless you’re doing the right thing.”
Junior high games are scheduled for Wednesday. The Nanooks play in the gym on Friday, the Lady Nanooks on Saturday. “So pretty much every weekend there’s going to be something happening,” said Callahan.
Schools in Fairbanks are now playing, as are schools in the Mat-Su, on the Kenai Peninsula and in Anchorage. “We’re hoping that after the February 4 and 5 Bering Strait board meeting that something can happen between Nome and Unalakleet and maybe our JVs can play a village or two. We’re hopeful.”
What did Callahan think of the girls game Friday night? “I liked it because we’re finally back in the gym. So it’s back to what I normally do every weekend.”
The alumnae women’s team included Kelly Bogart, Krystal Hensley, Ivory Okleasik, Heather Ongtowasruk, Ashley Tobuk, Daynon Medlin, Bev Tran, Lisa Okbaok, and Brooke Anungazuk.
The men’s squad was Bobby Koezuna, Chris Morris, David Stickel, Mikey Wongittilin, Skye Shipton, Michael Hawkins, Lonnie Gooden and Jens Irelan.