The Nome-Beltz boys’ basketball team reign as state champions.
The Nanooks won the entire boys’ Basketball Class 3A Tournament in ASAA March Madness Alaska when they beat Grace Christian in the final game Saturday, March 26.
The team’s journey to the championship game began Wednesday, March 23, when Nome-Beltz played Hutchison and beat them 68 to 39.
Its next game was on Thursday, March 24 where it played Houston, which had emerged from a victory over Mt. Edgecumbe. Nome-Beltz beat Houston 62 to 55.
This put the Nome-Beltz team in the 3A championship game, where it faced off against Grace Christian. Up until that championship game, Grace Christian was undefeated against Class 3A teams for its whole season.
It was a close game. The Nanooks trailed for most of the game’s initial three quarters, but remained competitive by keeping a strong defense, according to the Anchorage Daily News. They were losing by only one point going into the final quarter, a score that was eventually tied, 47 to 47.
It was senior Dawson Schaeffer who stepped up to the plate, according to ADN, and scored the tiebreaking basket within the last 16 seconds of the game.
The boys won 49 to 47 and took home the state title.
Schaeffer, and his teammates Finn Gregg and Richard Cross were named to the State Basketball All-Tournament team. In the championship game, Schaeffer scored 25 of the 49 points, Cross scored 11 and Greg scored 7.
This is the first time the Nome-Beltz Nanooks have won a State Title since 1983.
“We were close back in ‘09 and ‘10 and lost by a point two years in a row so this feels super good,” Coach Patrick Callahan said in an interview with ADN. Now the team has set the record straight, winning the title by just one basket.
The team’s hometown was ecstatic when they got news of the big win. Through the Nome community Facebook page, Nome Chatter, the community organized an impromptu welcome parade to meet the boys’ flight Sunday morning. Mayor John Handeland sent out an announcement through social media setting up a parade route and encouraging Nome residents to join in with their vehicles or stand outside and cheer.
In response, Nome turned itself inside out, showing up with homemade signs and pompoms to celebrate the win. Nome’s first responder vehicles led the parade from the airport through town, ending the Nanook boys’ basketball season in style.
The Nome-Beltz boys’ basketball team finished its season with a 20 to 7 win record, the West Conference Championship Title and the Class 3A State Championship Title.
Image at top: The champions and their loving fans. Image courtesy of Nome-Beltz Student Activities. Used with permission (2022).