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State Champions!

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Courtesy of Klas Stolpe and ASAA
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The Unalaska Raiders boys' basketball team won the state championship Saturday night in Anchorage, after the team squared off against the Petersburg Vikings, winning 49 to 39 for the Class 2A state championship title.

It was the first time the Unalaska team won the statewide championship since the late '90s. Raiders Coach Kent Russell, who was recently named Coach of the Year by the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches, credited an excellent defense as crucial. 

On March 12, the Raiders played Bristol Bay for the regional championship title, which they won 56 to 12. That win set the team on the road to the state championship, played Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Anchorage.

After winning the final game and spending another night at an Anchorage hotel, the team was welcomed at the airport Sunday morning with banners and congratulations. Interviewed as they got off the plane, three Raiders talking about how the team pulled off their victory.

"We were mentally prepared for it, we could have done a little better executing, but our defense was what won the game, I don't thing the [other] teams have seen what our defense can bring," said Justice Krukoff.

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Credit Pipa Escalante
The scene at the Dutch Harbor airport Sunday morning, as fans, friends and family welcomes the team home.

"It still hasn't really set in, I mean it's just so surreal, this moment," Trevor Wilson said. "It's been 20 years since we won the state championship and just to do it with the guys I got to do it with is great."

"Hard work, and trusting Coach, and trusting your teammates, really helped," Brian Earnshaw. 

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