Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File 
A basketball passes through a hoop at Thunder Mountain High School. Expect to see a lot more of that this week as the Region V Tournament will be hosted at the high school. Games start Wednesday.

Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File A basketball passes through a hoop at Thunder Mountain High School. Expect to see a lot more of that this week as the Region V Tournament will be hosted at the high school. Games start Wednesday.

2A Schools will fill gym at Region V Tournament

Top teams and players are among the state’s best.

The Juneau Empire’s expanded coverage of the Region V tournament is made possible by Sealaska Corp. Thanks to this sponsorship, this article —and all 2023 Region V coverage — is available online without a subscription to the Empire.

The records go out the window at the Alaska School Activities Association Region V 2A Basketball Championships as five schools look to send both their boys and girls teams on to the state tournament. The boys feature four good teams and a fifth that is dangerous while the girls feature three teams that have battled it out all year and two more that are just stuck in a year in which the three ranked above are highly regarded in the state.

Beginning Wednesday, players, pep bands, cheer and dance teams — mixed with parents and die-hard fans — will fill the Thunder Mountain High School gymnasium for four days of basketball action to witness who will wear the crown.

[See a tournament schedule and brackets here]

[Read about the 4A side of the tournament here]

Boys

Metlakatla 8-0 Southeast Conference/11-6 overall. (Games against conference opponents) defeated Craig 72-44, 64-34; defeated Wrangell 54-31, 77-35; defeated Petersburg 70-49, 55-33; defeated Wrangell 58-36, 67-48; defeated Haines 89-41, 79-44.

Head coach Tony Scott, assistant coach Todd Yliniemi.

“I enjoy the region tournament because it gives our students a big stage to compete,” Scott said. He is in his 11th season teaching and coaching for Metlakatla. “I grew up in Eastern Washington, so I have never competed at this regional as a player. But I also enjoy that it caters to kids that aren’t just in basketball. We have pep band, pep club and cheer that are able to attend and/or compete as well.”

Roster – Seniors: No.3 Jayden Buhler 6’2; No.11 TJ Jackson 6’3; No.12 Gaib Buxton 6’; No.13 Cameron Gaube 5’9; No.14 Harvey Booth 5’10; No.23 Shayne Anderson 6’4; No.30 Aaron Obrien 6’6. Juniors: No.2 Mason Rolando 5’11. Sophomores: No.5 Brody Booth 5’10; No.10 Troy Russell 6’0; No.21 Frank Guthrie 6’2; No.24 Carter Marsden 6’4.

The Chiefs are the defending Region V champions and lost in the state championship game last season. They return All-State tournament selections Cameron Gaube and Harvey Booth and state Player of the Game selection Shayne Anderson. They may be the best 2A team in the state. They are big, deep, quick and athletic and can shoot and play well together. Nine players can lead them in scoring. The seniors alone can fill a highlight reel. Gaube is the unassuming leader, smooth with the ball, deceptive, yet unselfish. The team is a good representative of a basketball town.

Petersburg 5-3 Southeast Conference/13-5 overall. defeated Haines 54-35, 72-53; defeated Craig 59-29, 64-36; defeated Wrangell 53-40, 56-51; defeated Craig 59-38, 56-37; lost to Metlakatla 70-49, 55-33; lost to Wrangell 52-49, defeated Wrangell 35-33.

Head coach Richard Brock, assistant coaches Nik Potrzuski and Blaine Volk.

“Southeast tournament, I think, is the best region tournament in the state,” Brock said. Brock played for Wrangell in the 1980, ’81 and ’82 regional tournaments under Duane Vincent. He coached Wrangell in 1988-89 and has been coaching Petersburg since the 1990-91 season, leading the Vikings to multiple 3A and 2A regional and state titles.“It is always well attended. You’ve got names in the program that go back generations in the communities themselves. For me personally, I’ve been around long enough that I am now coaching against guys that I have coached against early, their kids are playing… so it is always a great gathering for basketball fans just to reconnect. But at the same time every year in Southeast, teams are some of the better ones around the state…you are always going to see good quality basketball… We’ve had a good year, we’ve been competitive with everybody but, as you know, coming down to tournament time it is the teams that play the best that week or that day are the ones that are successful…”

Roster – Seniors: No.32 Jack Engell 6’3; No.23 Kyle Biggers 6’4; No.44 Devon Guthrie 6’4; No.15 Andrew Cole 5’10; No.21 Owen Anderson 5’8. Juniors: No.2 Kieran Cabral 5’11; No.3 Rik Cumps 5’10; No.0 Elijah Whitacre 5’10; No.20 Hunter Conn 6’. Sophomores: No.22 Evan Ware 6’1. Freshmen: No.12 Noah Pawuk 5’7; No.20 Aiden Knudsen 5’10.

The Vikings are the Region V runners-up from last season and placed sixth in the state tournament. They return All-State tournament selection Jack Engell and state Player of the Game selection Hendrik Cumps. Engell and Kyle Biggers are skilled posts with guards that are patient and excel at feeding them. Coach Brock does a good job of preparing his team to play good man-to-man defense and a structured style of play.

Wrangell – 4-4 Southeast Conference/6-11 overall. Lost to Haines 61-44, defeated Haines 53-34; lost to Petersburg 53-40, 56-51; lost to Metlakatla 54-31, 77-35; defeated Craig 65-40, 85-30; lost to Metlakatla 58-36; 67-48; defeated Petersburg 52-49, lost to Petersburg 35-33.

Head coach Cody Angerman, assistant coach Robbie Marshall, manager Carter Hammer.

“What I like about the Region V Tournament is the competition, how many people from Southeast it brings together and just the overall camaraderie of it,” said Angerman, who is in his sixth season as the Wolves head coach. Angerman played in four regionals for Wrangell, 1996-2000, under coach Ray Stokes. “In many ways, I feel that the Region V tourney is the biggest tournament in the state of Alaska. It is my belief that the Southeast 2A Conference is the toughest in the state. My opinion is that we have three of the top eight teams in the state…”

Roster – Seniors: No.12 Ethan Blatchley 6’3; No.3 Devlyn Campball 5’9; No.23 Jacen Hay 6’2; No.44 Leroy Wynne 6’4; No.24 Randy Churchill 5’10. Sophomores: No.20 Kyan Stead 6’0; No.32 Keaton Gadd 5’8; No.15 Lucas Schneider 5’7; No.34 Daniel Harrison 6’2; No.22 Trevyn Gillen 6’2. Freshmen: No.4 Boomchain Loucks 5’6.

Well coached and disciplined, Wrangell is known for defensive grit and hard work, getting the most from their talent pool. They traditionally play a 2-3 trapping zone that causes turnovers and quick shots. They have good guard play and can get hot from the perimeter. Jacen Hay is considered a top state player and has a solid supporting cast.

Haines – 3-5 Southeast Conference/12-10 overall.Lost to Petersburg 54-35, 72-53; defeated Wrangell 61-44, lost to Wrangell 53-34; defeated Craig 61-54, 65-49; lost to Metlakatla 89-41, 79-44.

Head coach Don Nash, assistant coach James Hart, manager James Stickler.

“We did three road trips to the Interior this year (Talkeetna, SuValley, Fairbanks) and none of those schools had pep bands that played at the games,” Nash said. This is his third stint as head coach (girls in 1997, boys in 2001-03 and last year as co-head coach). “One of the things I like about regions is the intensity of the fanfare, the stuff around the basketball games… the pep bands add so much to everything. Coaches up north told me when they get a chance to play in Southeast they jump on it because it is just a super-heated basketball environment, even one game is like a tournament atmosphere… Once you get to regionals it is a step more intense… You have to be ready to play pretty good basketball at regionals… Our goal is to beat Craig, Wrangell and Petersburg and have some kind of a game against Met… but who knows.”

Roster – Seniors: No.21 Luke Davis; No.40 Eric Gillham; No.34 Garrett Stickler; No.15 Jacob Weerasinghe; No.22 Owen McPhetres. Juniors: No.35 Jackson Long; No.24 Dawson Long; No.33 Douglas Adams. Sophomores: No.11 Alex Weerasinghe; No.23 Phoenix Swaner. Freshmen: No.3 Colton Combs; No.10 JC Davis.

Guard Luke Davis and 6-foot-3 Eric Gilliam are prolific scorers. The duo averaged 50 points between them the last half of the season. Gilliam is one of the state’s most talented in the 2A level. The team’s supporting cast has progressed, resulting in some of the best defensive traps on the court. The team likes man defense but will press and fall back into a zone.

Craig – 0-8 Southeast Conference/4-14 overall. Lost to Metlakatla 72-44, 64-34; lost to Petersburg 59-29, 64-36; lost to Petersburg 59-38, 56-37; lost to Wrangell 65-40, 85-30; lost to Haines 61-54, 65-49;

Head coach Thomas Mills.

“I have noticed over the last couple of years that the region tournament is normally pretty competitive, especially 2A with Metlakatla, Wrangell, Petersburg and Haines,” Mills said. He played at regions for Craig from 1996-2000, the first years the Panthers moved from 1A up to 3A. This is his second year coaching. “Our philosophy, because we are so young, is hard work and hard preparation. Traveling and meeting new people at regions is always a wonderful thing. No matter where you go there are great people in each town. It is pretty unique.”

Roster – Seniors: No.4 Sam Bass. Juniors: No.23 Bryant Holloway; No.11 Jayson Fowler; No.25 Tully Rice. Sophomores: No.24 Ayden Benolken; No.2 Brody Bazinet; No.15 Jeremy Newcomb; No.34 Tyler Smith. Freshmen: No.10 Josh Bennett; No.5 Ashton Bean; No.12 Adam Vickers; No.22 Jaxson Fowler.

Craig is scrappy and plays hard from tip to buzzer. They have improved steadily all season and will give teams 32 minutes of trouble at regions. They play fast and aggressive and shoot the ball well. Holloway is a 5-foot-6 guard who plays center because of his toughness and jumping ability, while Benolken and Bazinet are rising stars.

Girls

Metlakatla – 6-2 Southeast Conference/11-6 overall. Defeated Petersburg 67-18, 49-18; defeated Craig 44-38, lost to Craig 43-41; lost to Wrangell 45-42, defeated Wrangell 31-25; defeated Petersburg 60-16, 52-29; defeated Wrangell 42-31, 58-47; defeated Haines 39-36, 53-37;

Head coach Julian Russell, assistant coach Vanessa Anniskett.

“I just like being able to watch all the other teams play, watch games all day long,” Russell said of the Region V tournament. Russell played for the Metlakatla Chiefs in the 1995 and 1996 regional tournaments, moving from California back to the island for his junior and senior seasons. “I came home to graduate and play for the Chiefs because that is what the young kids like to do here… It is always really competitive, especially the 4A games… I don’t expect anybody is going to blow anybody else out… and it is nice towards the end of the tournament when you get schools that are not still in the running but are still there cheering for other schools, supporting other schools… I like that we are always supporting each other regardless of our situations.”

Roster – Seniors: No.13 Randi Schleusner 5’11; No.22 Pyper Booth 5’4; No.34 Chloe Guthrie 5’5; No.11 Alysia Nelson-Boyd 5’7. Juniors: No.25 Sarai Buffalo 5’11; No.10 Bree Chavez 5’4; No.3 Kennedy Cook 5’9; No.21 Ryley Booth 5’6. Sophomores: No.24 Athena Jordan 5’9; No.12 Lexi Cook 6’0; No.44 Ava Peratrovich 5’6. Freshmen: No.33 Saahdai Buffalo 5’6.

The MisChiefs were the Region V runners-up last season and placed fifth at state. They return All-State tournament selection Ryley Booth, a top player in the state, and state Players of the Game selections Lexi Cook at center and Bree Chavez at guard. Kennedy Cook and Piper Booth contribute to the well-rounded team that has a high basketball IQ. The entire roster can shoot the ball. They are long, athletic and play together defensively and offensively. Chavez is the motor with speed and quickness. They earned the top seed via a point spread over Craig. The MisChiefs beat the Lady Panthers by six points and the Lady Panthers defeated the MisChiefs by two.

Craig – 6-2 Southeast Conference/12-2 overall. Lost to Metlakatla 44-38, defeated Metlakatla 43-41; defeated Petersburg 39-18, 43-15; defeated Petersburg 54-19, 44-23; defeated Wrangell 31-28, 48-35; defeated Haines 59-41, lost to Haines 37-36;

Head coach Vanessa James, assistant coach Tina Steffen.

“I am just excited for us to be back in the gym and to have a gym full of fans again,” James said. James played four seasons for Craig in the region tournament, graduating in 2004. She coached the Lady Panthers to state in 2012, stepped back to concentrate on teaching and resumed head coaching in 2019-20. “It has been a rough couple of years with COVID and all the testing requirements that athletes and coaches had to go through and playing through seasons of cancelled games and reschedule games and things like that… I am just really excited to be back in the gym and playing competitive basketball in front of our fans… Our drum line will be traveling up there as well as our cheer team, hopefully quite a few parents…”

Roster – Seniors: No.14 Alissa Durgan; No.15 Amiaya Hansen; No.20 Laci Lowery; No.22 Makenna Taylor; No.23 Alexis Lawnicki. Juniors: No.42 Priscilla Trudeau. Sophomores: No.10 Faith Horner; No.25 Chloe Vasquez. Freshmen: No.11 Chelsea Thompson; No.12 Abby Patten; No.13 Myleigh Jenkins.

Craig starts five seniors, plays an aggressive man-to-man defense and does a nice job moving the ball. Their core group are state volleyball champions and that solid teamwork keeps the whole roster contributing in some role. Amiayah Hanson is the tallest at 5’8 but they are no pushovers. Scrappy defensively, they get deep into stance and move side to side. Alissa Durgan is a sharpshooter who will put the ball in the bucket if you give her a minute. Alexis Lawnicki is a key on both sides of the ball.

Haines – 5-3 Southeast Conference/13-3 overall. Defeated Petersburg 58-18, 34-23; defeated Wrangell 48-33, 53-38; lost to Craig 59-41, defeated Craig 37-36; lost to Metlakatla 39-36, 53-37;

Head coach Coleman Stanford, assistant coaches Fran Daly and Stuart DeWitt.

“It is the pinnacle of the season for everybody and then the lucky few who go on to state,” Stanford said. Stanford played in the tournament for Mt. Edgecumbe in 2000 and 2001. This is his fourth season coaching Haines. “It is a monumental mark. We all have been working really hard all year to get up to this point. It all comes together with all five of the schools in our region. In a way it is kind of a big party but it is all about business at the same time. You get to have a lot of fun but you also get to showcase what you have been working on the whole year… Towards the end of the season we got a little momentum going and we have been carrying it this year pretty well…”

Roster – Seniors: No.14 Alison Benda; No.1 MacKenzy Dryden; No.12 Malia Jorgenson-Geise; No.2 Grace Long Godinez. Juniors: No.24 Raven Hotch; No.34 Gracie Stickler. Sophomores: No.5 Emma Dohrn; No.32 Ashlyn Ganey; No.3 Ari’el Godinez Long. Freshmen: No.11 Audrey Bader; No.10 Ava Graham; No.15 Melissa Verhamme.

The Lady Glacier Bears are a full-court press team of state cross-country and track stars with endless energy that get opponents to turn the ball over. They like to run, are all heart and are not afraid to outwork opponents. Point guard Grace Long Godinez is the motor, forward Alison Benda is the workhorse and Ari’el Godinez Long and Ashlyn Ganey show talented promise. The fundamentals have caught up with the athleticism this season.

Wrangell – 3-5 Southeast Conference/5-7 overall. Lost to Haines 48-33, 53-38; defeated Petersburg 39-15, 42-18; defeated Metlakatla 45-42, lost to Metlakatla 31-25; lost to Craig 31-28, 48-35; lost to Metlakatla 42-31, 58-47; defeated Petersburg 39-13, 51-21;

Head coach Christina Good, assistant coach Kaelene Harrison.

“I love the Region V tournament,” Good said. Good was selected the 2022 Division 2A Girls Coach of the Year by the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches last season. She played for Wrangell from 1982-86 under coach Myron Myers, coached in the ‘90s and has been Wrangell’s head coach the past three seasons. “There is nothing else like regions. It allows teams to play on a neutral court with fans, bands, cheer and dance teams from Southeast. It is the best of the best basketball. A culmination of all the hard work the teams put into a season. My philosophy is teaching life through a great game. Building confidence in each player, having a plan, don’t quit and play everything to finish, and have fun.”

Roster – Seniors: No.11 Kiara Harrison; No.2 Trinity Faulkner. Juniors: No.23 Kayla Meissner; No.30 Mindy Meissner. Sophomores: No.21 Addy Andrews; No.5 Della Churchill; No.14 Abby Stough; No.32 Aubrey Wynne. Freshmen: No.12 Christina Johnson; No.35 Shailyn Nelson.

The Lady Wolves are the defending Region V champion and lost in last season’s state championship game. They return All-State tournament selection Kiara Harrison, a finalist for this season’s 2A state player of the year. Along with Kayla Meissner, the duo play a significant role offensively and defensively. Harrison is 6-foot-2 and athletic and can hit the three, put the ball on the floor and protect things defensively. She has good post foot work and is surrounded by good shooting and aggressive young teammates. Anyone on the team can score at will.

Petersburg – 0-8 Southeast Conference/0-17 overall. Lost to Metlakatla 67-18, 49-18; Lost to Haines 58-18, 34-23; Lost to Craig 39-18, 43-15; lost to Wrangell 39-15, 42-18; lost to Craig 54-19, 44-23; lost to Metlakatla 60-16, 52-29; lost to Wrangell 39-13, 51-21;

Head coach Dino Brock, assistant coaches Matt Pawuk and Kerri Curtiss.

“What I like about the tournament is the atmosphere,” Brock said. Brock played in two regional tournaments for Wrangell, 1982 and 1983, under coaches Duane Vincent and Bill Gablehouse. Brock coached Wrangell in 1992-94 and has been coaching Petersburg since the 1994-95 season, including 3A and 2A region titles and a 2A state title. “The tournament is such a unique experience getting to go with the pep band and cheerleaders, getting to watch all the different teams. We get to watch the 4A teams this year and all the boys teams. You get to see people you have known for 30 years… plus it is such a competitive tournament because our leagues are always so good, so talented… With the pep band and cheerleaders, it creates such a great environment… You get people from other towns that will cheer for you, just a festive atmosphere. I don’t know how any other league in the state can be tougher than this one. We play very good teams every single night.”

Roster – Seniors: No.3 Kasiah Lopez 5’7. Juniors: No.11 Anya Pawuk 5’5; No.20 Bryanna Ratliff 5’5. Sophomores: No.13 Elizabeth Burns 5’8; No.10 Iris Case 5’6; No.23 Adarra Curtiss 5’8; No.12 Eleanor Kandoll 5’4; No.21 Cadence Lopez 5’3; No.30 Kylie Mattingly 5’10.

The Lady Vikings are well coached and bring youth and a growing program to the table. They have balanced scoring with different leaders every night. Point guard Anya Pawuk and swing Iris Case are key for success. The team is young, learning to put quarters together and it is just a matter of sticking with it to prove themselves to be a traditionally well disciplined team that executes defensively well.

Cheerleaders

Craig – Olivia Heath, Logan Lewis, Art Frank, Austin Heidy, Brooklyn Roberts, Hazel Barrett. Head coach April Hoy.

Haines – Seniors: Marin Hart. Juniors: Fiona Tormey. Freshmen: Isabelle Alamillo, Madi Hart, MJ Hotch, Ruby Martin, Loyal Tormey. Head coach Natalie Benassi.

Metlakatla – Seniors: Solomon Martiniez, Jasper Booth, Scarlett Eaton. Juniors: Rose Peratrovich. Sophomores: Kendall Booth, Tricia Lindsey, Shannon McCarty, Tori Bevis. Freshmen: Jenelle Sanchez Torres, Sara Hoff, Davina Olofson, Mariana Amat. Head coach Jeanine Marsden, assistant Katherine Gifford.

Petersburg – Seniors: Lilly Odegaard, Novalee Thomas, Rebecca Thynes, Meghan O’Soup. Juniors: Lakell Deinhardt, Jonas Anderson. Sophomores: Nya Eby, Becky Fisher, Kaden Duke, Angus Olsen, Harley Dunbar. Head coach Andrea Weathers, assistant Becky Turland.

Wrangell – Brodie Gardner, Cassady Cowan, Lillian Younce, Nate Rooney, Alishia Armstrong, Steven Bales. Head coach Stephanie Cartwright.

Pep band

Craig – Grant Maygren, Savannah Stamon, Paulnell Tallman, Nicole Mendosa, Brooke Williams, Kyleigh McCoy, Sabrina Nelson, Carter Bergtold, Isaiah McCoy, Patrick Gardner. Head coach Rachel Malcolm.

Haines – Seniors: Zach Ritzinger, Avari Getchell. Sophomores: Lucia Chapell, Kate Benda, Colin Aldassy, Will Davis, Willa Stuart, Camelia Bell. Freshmen: Nate White, Maddox Rogers. Head coach Matt Davis, chaperone Holly Davis.

Metlakatla – Seniors: Gio Arroyo, Zak Janes. Juniors: Isaac Nelson, Miles Nelson, Madi Smith, Simon Williams, Noah Leask, Connor Casimiro, Ben Jaminski, Shayden Ladnier, Ashton McKeehan. Sophomores: Sitka Atkinson, Kaylen Williams, Lacey Marsden. Freshmen: Daycee King, Matthew Miller, Norma Sosa-Michielssen, Dylan Nelson. Head coach Amanda Schoolland.

Petersburg – Cheyenne Steel, Addy Bird, Heidi Brantuas, Issy Carrow, Adrian Ducat, Zander Jones, Sean Toth, Dakota Caples, Serena Helms, Oliver Petersen, Sydnee Stewart, Elias Ward, Cayden Turland, Thomas Olsen-Phillips, Charlotte Martin, Canek Sosa, Logan Haley, Eleanor Kandoll, Chris Calhoun. Head coach Chelsea Corrao, assistant Britton Erickson.

Wrangell – Paige Baggen, Nikolai Barden Seikawitch, Killian Booker, Andrei Barden Seikawitch, Ander Edens, Spencer Petticrew, Elias Decker, Sean McDonald. Head coach Tasha Morse.

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