The Seward boys team started its revival against Nikiski. Today, the Seahawks hope to continue that revival.
Seven boys teams and seven girls teams come together today at Anchorage Christian Schools for the District 3/3A tournament.
Two boys teams and two girls teams will get state championship berths at the tournament.
Up until the end of February, the Seward boys did not look like a good bet to pick up one of those berths.
The Seahawks had not won a game in the district until they rolled into Nikiski to take on the Bulldogs.
Behind the dominating frontcourt of Jonah Swiderski, Bart Elhard and Doug Jones, Seward rolled to a 75-61 victory.
The Seahawks then won their next two district games to finish with a 3-7 record and get a No. 5 seed. That matches Seward with Nikiski, which also finished 3-7 in the district and earned a No. 4 seed. The Bulldogs are the defending district champions. The two teams split their games this year.
"We're going to have to figure out a way to counteract their size," Nikiski boys coach Reid Kornstad said. "They are the biggest, most athletic team in the league."
So how come they didn't win a district game until late February?
"We've been involved in a lot of close games," Seward boys coach Rob Hassen said. "We're finally starting to execute in crunch time."
While Kornstad is concerned about Seward's size and athleticism, Hassen is worried about Nikiski's ability to light it up from 3-point land.
"They transition amazingly quick," Hassen said of Nikiski. "They're always going to be shooting the 3-point shot, so obviously we're looking to avoid a 3-point barrage.
"I've seen a game where they've hit 11 3s a couple of times."
The winner of the Nikiski-Seward game will face tournament host Anchorage Christian Schools, the No. 1 seed.
On the girls side, perennial district heavyweights Nikiski and Seward are once again favored to reach the finals. Last year, Seward defeated Nikiski for the district title.
The Bulldogs finished 10-0 in the district this year to snap up the No. 1 seed. Nikiski has a bye today, then plays the winner of the Houston-Grace game Friday.
The Seahawks finished 8-2 in the district to earn the No. 2 seed. Seward's only two district losses came to Nikiski.
Seward opens up against Susitna Valley today. The Rams didn't participate in the district's regular-season schedule, so Seward and Su Valley haven't played this year.
"They felt they were a little bit of a smaller school, so they didn't play in the league," Seward coach Roger Steinbrecher said. "They've had a couple of good players over the years, so you never know what's going to happen."
The Bulldogs lost four starters off last year's state championship team, but Romans has them in good position to earn his 13th straight trip to the state tournament.
Karen Rabung is the one returning starter, and she has provided the Bulldogs with a steady scoring presence down low all year.
Japanese foreign exchange student Hisa Miyara also has made a big difference for the team at point guard.
"When she first came over, it was really hard for her and I to communicate," Romans said. "It's taken patience on both of our parts to get to a point where we can clearly communicate.
"It was a bad combination. Her English wasn't the greatest when she first came over, and I talk really fast."
But as much as Nikiski's success is due to Miyara and Rabung, Romans also has developed role players around the duo which have made Nikiski tough to defend and score against.
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