Chieftains run past Bears for 1A state title
For the Noorvik Bears, the Class 1A state championship game at Sullivan Arena last Wednesday was a case of feast or famine. Unfortunately for Noorvik, it was mostly famine as they struggled to push in shots from the floor against a taller Klawock team.
"We couldn't buy a bucket if we were Donald Trump, I mean it was pretty pitiful," Noorvik coach Darren Zibell said. "We had some quality hooks we just missed. They're a match-up nightmare for us and they did a good job defensively."
Just how tough was it for Noorvik? The Bears shot just 22 percent from the field in the contest, including a 1-14 effort in a brutal 20-6 quarter run by Klawock that broke open a tight game.
Despite their shooting woes, the Bears stood toe-to-toe with Klawock for much of the first quarter. Klawock's Matthew Peters hit a three-point shot from the left win and then tacked on a free throw to complete a four-point play and staked the Chieftains to a slim 11-7 lead.
Gene Sampson had helped Noorvik tie the game moments earlier with a trey of his own.
The wheels came off the Bears' wagon in the second. Noorvik failed to score a field goal in the first four minutes of the quarter and found itself looking up at a 23-12 deficit.
Klawock opened the second with a 12-4 run, including a 6-0 burst that built the lead to 11 before the Bears managed to find the basket.
Gordon Newlin Jr. ended the Chieftains' run by sinking the back end of a two-shot opportunity from the charity stripe. His free throw ended an almost two-minute scoring drought.
Sampson appeared to breathe more life into the Bears offense seconds later. The sophomore guard pulled up and buried a three-pointer from the left side that pulled Noorvik to within 8, at 23-15.
Klawock regained the momentum, however. The Chieftains reeled off an 8-0 run over the final three minutes of the frame and took a 31-15 advantage into the half.
Klawock continued to push its lead in the early minutes of the third. The Chieftains opened the second half with six unanswered points and ballooned their lead to 22, at 37-15.
Noorvik, the Northwest Conference runner-up, managed to catch fire from there. After Danny Wells pushed in a free throw to end Klawock's 13-0 run in the second and third periods, Newlin followed with a basket.
Wells, who hit just one of his 11 shots in the second quarter, added even more fuel to the Bears' fire moments later, capping a 6-0 NHS run by draining a three-point shot from the top of the key.
Quincy Williamson followed up Wells' trey with a shot from the baseline to extend the Bears' run to 8-0, and send Noorvik into the fourth quarter down by just 14, at 37-23.
The Class 1A state player of the year, Wells heated up in the early minutes of the fourth quarter and helped the Bears cut Klawock's lead to nine with 6:06 left. During the Bears' 9-4 run, Wells accounted for all nine points via two treys and three free throws.
Klawock weathered the storm, however. The Chieftains managed to score three straight baskets before Arthur Ballot Jr. stopped the bleeding with a three-point shot from the left side.
The basket was Ballot's lone points of the game.
Wells finished the game strong for Noorvik, which showcased five freshman on their roster. Wells accounted for 17 of his 25 points in the final eight minutes of the contest.
Sampson and Newlin closed out the game with six and five points, respectively. Newlin also collected a team-high seven rebounds.
With the loss, Noorvik closed out its season with a 21-5 record.
Klawock, which had to survive a 66-63 double-overtime scare from Noatak in the semifinals, finished at 24-3.
The Bears earned their second straight berth in the state finals on Tuesday by downing Aniak, 65-59.
Noorvik won the Class 2A state title last season. During the offseason, the team was moved to the Class 1A ranks in the ASAA's realignment process.
Noorvik defeated New Stuyahok by a 55-37 margin in Monday's quarterfinal round.