The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Tommy Wells
Seward Phoenix LOG 

Odds and ends from a busy world of sports

 

January 5, 2017 | View PDF



Youth basketball will return to the lower Kenai Peninsula this weekend when the City of Seward’s Parks and Recreation Department host a free basketball Jamboree on Saturday, Jan. 7.

At the event, players in the Urbach Youth Basketball League will meet the coaches, go through drill stations, work on skill development and scrimmage.

The UYBL season will begin Jan. 28 and run through March 25 for pre-school ages through fifth grade.

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While much of the state was enjoying the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, several Alaska high school basketball teams were hard at work. Two of the squads in tournament action that will interest area basketball fans the most are the defending Class 3A state champion Barrow boys and girls. Both were competing in the recent ACS Lime Solar/Pepsi Invitational tournament this past weekend.

Having won the last two Class 3A state titles, the Barrow boys have drawn a lot of attention as they try and three-peat this season without the services of two-time Gatorade player of the year winner, Kamaka Hepa. Following the Whalers’ state title win last March, Hepa transferred to Portland to play basketball at Jefferson High School. The 6-foot-9 standout is one of the country’s top-rated juniors and has already earn scholarship offers from numerous Division I programs, including Oregon.

Barrow proved itself a worthy contender for the 2017 state tournament even without Hepa. The Whalers advanced to the finals of the ACS Lime Solar/Pepsi tournament before suffering a loss to Anchorage Christian.

One thing to note in the loss, however. Tournament Barrow’s Travis Adams fouled out of the game late in the fourth. Even though he fouled out, the junior point guard still was named the tournament MVP.

The Barrow girls rolled to the tournament’s girls’ championship. Rose Mongoyak and Kuutuuq Danner helped power the Lady Whalers to the top.

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One of the players almost everyone in the country will be keeping an eye on this season will be Scammon Bay standout Kiah Charlie. The slick-shooting guard averaged more than 25 points per game a year ago en route to leading the Lady Eagles to the state championship.

Charlie, like Hepa, has drawn the interest of several college coaches.

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Speaking of college coaches, former University of Kentucky and Texas A&M head coach Billy Gillispie ended his brief comeback recently. One of the nation’s top coaches, Gillispie stepped down as the head coach at Ranger College in mid-December due to health concerns.

In his 1 1/2 seasons at RC, Gillispie guided the Rangers to more than 40 wins on the court.

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While most Alaskans may not have noticed, the folks in Texas are in the midst of another Odessa Permian-style powerhouse dynasty. Tiny Richland Springs High School won its seventh Class 1A six-man state football championship on Dec. 15 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Coyotes have won seven of the past 11 state championships.

In so doing, Richland Springs head coach Jerry Burkhart has joined the elite ranks of Texas football lore, tying former Brownwood head Gordon Wood with seven state titles.

In his tenure at Richland Springs, Burkhart has compiled an amazing 174-14 record.

 

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