Sure, it's not the championship trophy, but members of the Cook Inlet Academy boys high school basketball team weren't hanging their heads as they left the Service High School gym after losing by three points, 59-56, to Hydaburg in the title game of the Alaska School Activities Association state 2A tournament.
"It was tough to lose in such a close game," said CIA coach Max Vavilov. "You want a championship game to be close, but it's tough to come out on the losing end.
"(My team) did their best. That's all I could ask."
CIA senior Jacob Peterson put the tournament in perspective.
"I realized it wasn't going to be the biggest deal if we lose. There's kids my age fighting a war half a world away, just to allow me to play," Peterson said. "I tried to have fun."
Peterson said he wouldn't have changed a thing after playing his final game for the Eagles.
"It was tough to lose, but I feel no shame and I've got no regrets," Peterson said. "We played our hearts out. I was pleased with our performance, and a great team won anyway."
Peterson said that this year's team responded well to Vavilov's leadership after former coach Tim Keener led the Eagles to a state title last season.
"Coach (Vavilov) did a great job," Peterson said. "He stepped in and let everyone know he could fill those shoes. Everybody rallied behind him. He put in a lot of new things on offense. Our defense was pretty much the same, but he definitely had his signature on this year's team. It wasn't just carry-over talent."
Vavilov will lose three seniors from this year's team -- Peterson, Calder Hillyer and Luke Myers -- but will have some carry-over talent of his own for next year.
"We had some great seniors. They played their hearts out," said CIA's Kyle Nettles. "I'm looking forward to next year."
Vavilov said he was pleased with the way the Eagles finished this season.
"They had a great season. I was proud of them," Vavilov said. "It was a blast. It was a blessing just to be a part of it, and to go as far as we did. I enjoyed coaching this bunch of kids."
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