SENIOR WALK – Sitka High School seniors walk through the halls of Xoots Elementary School wearing their graduation attire this morning as they are congratulated by students. The seniors walked through the halls of both elementary schools and the middle school this morning. Seventy-four seniors will be graduating in the ceremony which begins 7 p.m. tonight in the school gym. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Braves Beat Sitka to Take Second in Tourney

By GARLAND KENNEDY

Sentinel Sports Editor

In a tournament that came down to a final, tiebreaker game, the Mt. Edgecumbe Braves took second place at the ASAA Eastern Conference tournament and earned a spot at the state championship, Saturday in Big Lake.

The boys bracket kicked off Thursday with a rivalry match-up between the Braves and Sitka High Wolves. With a solid, 3-1 regular season record against Sitka, Edgecumbe scored a 55-42 victory to advance in the competition.

Mt. Edgecumbe senior Ranen Wassillie shoots over Sitka senior Jason Young in a Feb. 4 rivalry game at Sitka High. The Braves beat Sitka twice and took second place at the Eastern Conference tournament over the weekend. (Sentinel photo)

Miles Bourdukofsky, a senior from St. Paul, said Sitka performed well, but the Braves were up to the task.

“We needed to beat these guys to reach the championship game… I’d say they did pretty good because they made better connections and adjusted to our defense,” Bourdukofsky said.

Another Edgecumbe senior, Ranen Wassillie, also focused on getting his team through the bracket. He, too, noted the Wolves’ determination.

“Get past this first game and focus on the championship. I don’t know, I just focused on the game first… They played a little bit harder than they usually play,” said Wassillie. “They wanted to win.”

But in the second game of the tournament, the Braves encountered serious opposition from the Houston Hawks. Edgecumbe lost 91-90 in overtime due to free throws. Houston won the Eastern Conference championship title and will open their state tournament bracket against Valdez next week.

Wassillie said his team worked hard to shut down the Hawks’ leading scorers, but was unable to defend against everything the home team deployed.

“Our main focus was just shutting those two players down and making sure they didn’t score as much… There were a lot of fouls called. A big part of it was fouls,” he said.

Edgecumbe was down by only a handful of points with seconds left in the fourth quarter when a Houston player fouled MEHS junior Jake Friske.

“It was just really intense,” recalled Bourdukofsky. “And it was just a good game overall. We really battled with each other… We got tied through free throws. Jake got fouled for three, like at the last second. And there was no more time left. And he went up to the line and tied it up and made it go into overtime.”

The Hawks pulled out a victory in the closing minutes with the aid of well-shot free throws.

That loss pitted the Braves against Sitka for the second time, Saturday. The winner of that game would earn a chance to compete in the state tournament, while the loser’s season was done.

Following their initial loss to Edgecumbe, Sitka beat the Redington Huskies 48-23 before facing their old rivals again.

Sitka opened the tiebreaker game strong and took the lead against MEHS.

“We were kind of off in the first half. We were not really doing too good, I can say that for sure,” Wassillie said. “But… in the second half, we just brought it up, brought it back and tried our hardest to come back for the second half.”

But the Wolves put their best effort into the decisive game, at one point leading by 16 points.

“We weren’t really prepared for the first half, because we just kind of thought it’d be easy, knowing we could beat them… They were just really consistent, unlike us. And I was surprised to see that we were down 16 at the half,” Bourdukofsky said.

But Edgecumbe rallied in the last two quarters and scored a 59-55 win, taking second place in the four-team conference and earning a spot in the state competition in the process.

The team will fly north next week and play Kenai Central Wednesday, March 22.  If the Braves win, they will then play either Delta or Grace Christian.

“I just want to see the whole team try their absolute hardest. Give us lots of energy coming into state. Just basically be ready and try our hardest,” Wassillie said.

Bourdukofsky agreed: “I would like to see a lot of effort, a lot of trust in one another and a willingness not to give up.”

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20 YEARS AGO

May 2004

Dr. Arthur Cleveland, a former dean at Columbus State University in Georgia, was named the new president of Sheldon Jackson College, SJC officials announced today. He will be replacing C. Carlyle Haaland, who has held the position for four years.


50 YEARS AGO

May 1974

Coaching and managing the Little League teams this year are John Abbott and John Calhoun, ANB; Dale and DeWayne Vilandre, Alaska Federal; Walt Barker, Elks; Frank Simmons and Frank Vilandre, Lions; Leo Bacon, Pat Ness, Cliff Robards and Bob Edenso, Moose; and Everett Webb, Sportsmen. Head umpire is Carl Karpstein.

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