Both the Homer and Seward girls basketball teams will be returning to the state tournament this year.
Seward, which won the tournament in 1998, will be making its sixth straight appearance at state. Seward will face Valdez in the opening round of the Class 3A tournament on Thursday.
Homer will be at the Class 4A tournament for the third straight year. The Mariners, who finished fourth at state last year, are seeded eighth and open Wednesday against Juneau.
Juneau is the defending state champion and is led by guard Talisa Rhea, who is the reigning Class 4A player of the year. The Crimson Bears have lost only three times this season.
“We’re looking at our first game being the state championship right there,” Homer girls coach Tim Daugharty told the Homer News.
Daugharty said his team put together some good quarters at the Northern Lights Conference tournament to qualify for state and nearly knock off Wasilla in the title game. The Mariners will have to continue to do that at state.
“That’s how we need to play, one quarter at a time,” Daugharty said. “If (the girls) are mentally focused, I think they’ll surprise a few teams.”
The Seward girls qualified for state by defeating Grace Christian in the semifinals of the Peninsula Conference tournament. The Seahawks trailed by five points entering the final quarter, but erupted for 18 points in the fourth quarter to secure a 41-33 victory and a state bid.
Homer News reporter Ben Stuart contributed to this report.
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