Unalaska boys basketball team places fourth at state tournament, wins academic award
The Unalaska boys basketball team finished in fourth place in their division at the 2022 state tournament.
They entered the 2A Alaska State Basketball Championships as the sixth seed on an at-large bid, after taking third at regionals earlier this month.
After losing their first game against Metlakatla, the varsity boys team pulled out an impressive win against Fairbanks charter school Effie Kokrine.
In the final seconds, senior Herwin Riodil dropped a buzzer-beater shot that gave the Raiders a 1-point win and kept them from going home.
“We're all sitting there and the ball rolls around the rim and it was just kind of hanging there,” said head coach Kent Russell. “Both their team and our team were sitting there watching it and then it went in — it was like it just hung there, like a little extra dramatic fashion.”
In their final game, the boys beat Petersburg by 5 points, taking fourth place among the eight teams in the tournament.
“That was probably one of the more complete games of the season,” Russell said. “One of their best scorers, he didn’t score at all in the game, which shows how our defense tightened up on them.”
He said the team had about 15 steals against Petersburg. Herwin Riodil put up 26 points, Ceasar De Guzman and KC Balbarino both scored 8.
The conference marked the final games for four senior athletes: Sam Ahsan; Phuc Ho; Ceasar De Guzman and Herwin Riodil. Riodil and De Guzman both made the all-tournament team at the regional conference. Riodil also made all-tournament at state and was selected to participate in the all-state game.
The Raiders were given an academic award for having the highest average team grade-point average.
Coach Russell said this was the first time in about two years that the team had been able to travel because the COVID-19 pandemic had paused contact sports and competitive travel on the island. That meant this year added some challenges, he said.
“They had to learn stuff that you learned at a younger age, like how to sub into a game, what to do on timeouts, how to line up on free throws,” Russell said. “We had to start with some basic stuff and go back over some of those basic habits.”
Overall, he said the season was a success and he looks forward to getting back in the gym to prepare for next year.
“I like where the team is headed,” Russell said. “I like the potential of the kids coming up.”