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Raiders Advance To State Basketball Tournament

Courtesy Charles Pulliam

Unalaska's basketball teams are headed to the state tournament. The boys (12-3) won their region this weekend after knocking off top-seed Point Hope 75-73. 

Coach Riley Spetz calls the victory “miraculous” as his team was trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter.

“The stars kind of aligned in more ways than one. You could say they had a couple kids foul out. We had some kids hit big shots. The ball seemed to bounce our way for two minutes at the end of the game," Spetz said. "The kids were pretty resilient and I'm real proud of them for that.”  

Reigning 2A player of the year Trevor Wilson dropped 38 points and 10 rebounds in the contest while Torrance Lee chipped in another dozen points.

Spetz says his team's strong finish was especially satisfying as the Harpooners were undefeated at the time.

“At this point in the year, we expect to beat everyone. We expect to compete and have a chance in every single game and play the way we know we can play," Spetz said. "I'm glad the boys got it done. Beating an undefeated team is pretty sweet, but doing it in the regional final is even better.”

On their way to the regional title, the boys also narrowly beat Unalakleet, 64-62.

Now, the Raiders are turning their focus to the state tournament, which begins on Thursday.

The girls' team (10-8) is also headed to state. Coach Casey Clausius says it's their second year in a row after many seasons of failing to clinch bids.

“It was tough work for everybody trying to get back here again," Clausius said. "Everyone had to stay healthy. Everyone had to be on board with getting to practice on time and balancing school work, and we're really excited.”

The Raiders girls finished the regional tournament second, earning an automatic bid to state.

Along the way, they knocked off Unalakleet twice. In the first matchup, Unalaska took a commanding 72-53 victory. In the second contest, it was a closer 59-50 win.

Clausius says the girls also played a tight game with defending 2A state champion Point Hope, losing by only five points.

Credit Courtesy Charles Pulliam
Kayla Villamor and the Raiders fell to Tikigaq in the Great Alaska Conference Region championship game 64-59.

“We were so close," Clausius said. "It came down to small things, like knowing who you are guarding in crucial situations and knowing what offense we were running in that exact moment. It wasn't a lot of them, but small things decided the game. We just came up short on the scoreboard.”

While Clausius is hoping his team gets another crack at the Harpoonerettes, they'll face Nenena in the first round at state. The teams met last year with Nenena winning  71-47.

At regions, both Unalaska teams got the academic award and Trevor Wilson, Herwin Riodel, Hailey Wilson, and Kayla Villamor were named to the all-tournament team.

KUCB will air live coverage of state basketball starting Thursday at 8 a.m. with the boys taking on Hooper Bay and at 11 a.m. when the girls tip off against Nenana.

Zoë Sobel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2019. She returned to KUCB after a year living in Nepal and Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. She then returned to KUCB as a ProPublica reporter August of 2020 through August of 2021.
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