Raiders Enter Postseason Play Ranked Second
Postseason high school basketball kicks off this week, with the No. 2 Unalaska Raiders playing their first games of the regional tournament Thursday.
The boys' team (10-3) will take on the winner of a match-up between No. 3 Unalakleet and No. 5 Selawik.
With those teams joining the Great Alaska Basketball Conference -- and with Point Hope ranked No. 1 -- Coach Riley Spetz said the competition will be tough.
"It's going to be a competitive region," said Spetz. "We've just got to go out every day and every minute and try to win every possession."
The Raider boys are on a six-game winning streak. Over the course of the season, Spetz has been working to prepare them for high-pressure situations.
"This group is pretty seasoned. They know how to compete," he said. "I think that's the most important part -- that they're competitors and they get after each other every day. That's going to be our biggest advantage."
The boys will have 10 players for the tournament, including reigning 2A player of the year Trevor Wilson.
"We believe that we can play with anyone in the state as long as we play together," said Wilson. "We've just got to make sure we play good defense and really share the ball on offense."
While Wilson is confident, he's staying mum on his hopes for his senior season.
"We don't want to get too ahead of ourselves," he said. "But we're just going to take it one game at a time and see how far we get and play the best that we can."
As for the girls' squad, this will be the last trip to regions for Coach Casey Clausius, who's leaving Unalaska at the end of the school year to be closer to family.
He started coaching the team when the current seniors were freshman and said he'd like to take one final trip to state.
"That's always been our goal -- get back to state," said Clausius. "We have a lot of the same girls returning from last year, so we're just hoping we can feed off the energy we had last year and have a good chance of getting back there."
Last season, the team made it to the state tournament for the first time in years, ultimately falling to Nenana in the third-place game.
Now, the No. 2 Raider girls (8-7) are on a seven-game winning streak, having ended their season by taking the PenAir Invitational.
If his team faces reigning state champion Point Hope or perennial contender Unalakleet, Clausius said the gym will get loud.
"I told the girls we need to anticipate not just the noise, but they're going to supply a lot of fans," he said. "We're anticipating 300 to 400 fans from those communities, and they're going to come down from the north and cheer on their teams. We're hoping to have a good turn out as well."
The girls are slated to take on the winner of the Unalakleet-Selawik game on Thursday at 4 p.m. Then, at 7 p.m., the boys will take the court against the winner of the same match-up.
Unalaskans can listen to live coverage of both games on KUCB 89.7 FM.