Ninilchik triumphs against all Hope

Wolverines take second straight Class 2A title

Posted: Sunday, April 01, 2001

To the victors go the spoils. In Ninilchik, apparently, that includes a water-bottle shower for the winning coach.

"That was cold water -- and a lot of it," said wet, cold and happy Ninilchik High School girls basketball coach Dan Leman after his Wolverines defeated the Tikigaq Harpoonerettes from Point Hope 48-36 for the school's fourth overall and second consecutive Alaska School Activities Association state 2A championship Saturday at Service High School in Anchorage.

"I'm not the most comfortable I've ever been -- I didn't bring a change of clothes, I'm wearing a T-shirt that's too small and my pants are wet -- but it was worth it. I'd do it all again for those kids."

In an undefeated Point Hope squad, the Wolverines faced their toughest 2A opponent of the season. In fact, the Harpoonerettes took an early 9-4 lead on the Wolverines.

Then Whitney Leman scored a basket, Kourtney Hansen finished off a break for two points and Leman fed Janelle Moerlein for two more, and the Wolverines had a 10-9 lead with 3:15 left in the first quarter.

While Ninilchik never trailed after that, the Wolverines also never stopped looking over their shoulder.


Ninilchik's Whitney Leman, left, looks for an outlet pass under defensive pressure from Point Hope's Iris Lane, background, and Raquel Rock (24) during Ninilchiks' victory in the Girls' 2A Alaska State Championship Saturday, March 31, 2001, in Anchorage, Alaska.

AP Photo/Michael Dinneen

"(Point Hope) is a great team, and anything could have happened," said Ninilchik's Jessica Russo. "They're such a well-rounded team. We knew they were going to be really tough."

The Harpoonerettes lived up to their reputation, reeling in the Wolverines every time Ninilchik put together any sort of run.

"Every year, I come to state and every year, they're always here," Hansen said. "Point Hope is always there, and we've always been afraid of them."

With the Point Hope defenders challenging every Ninilchik ball-handler, the Wolverines relied on some tough defense of their own to pull out the victory.

"Our defense -- that's always what it is," Whitney Leman said. "We mix things up a lot, switching from zone to man to a triangle-and-two, putting the press on or off. It makes it easier on us, because it gives us a little bit of a break, and it makes it harder on them. It's tiring for us too, but we know it's effective so we've got to do it."

Ninilchik's defense created 13 points off 12 Point Hope turnovers -- an important stat as the Harpoonerettes scored 13 points off 17 Ninilchik turnovers.

"Those little guards get in there and try to steal the ball away," Bosick said. "We took care of the ball. Whitney handled the ball well. Everybody hustled and we passed as good as we could."

The difference came in the final quarter when the Harpoonerettes were able to come up with some steals off their press, but couldn't turn them into points in the closing minutes.

"Our kids played hard," said Point Hope coach Bill Williams. "You've just got to hand it to Ninilchik on defense. They had a good game plan. They shut us down when they needed to."

Dan Leman said that the Wolverines have worked hard on defense all season, but that slowing down the Harpoonerettes was a challenge.

"You have to pay attention on defense," Dan Leman said. "You have to call your switches, you have to look to help, and you cross your fingers after that."

Whitney Leman netted 20 points for the Wolverines, Bosick scored 16 and Moerlein chipped in with 10 points.

For the Wolverines, this title is just as special, if not more so, than the previous three.

"This one's better," Bosick said. "We worked really hard. The whole team did really good. Everyone had a part in it."

"Nobody expected us to get this far," Whitney Leman said. "It was good to prove some people wrong -- and prove it to ourselves."


Point Hope 11 8 11 6 -- 36

Ninilchik 14 11 11 12 -- 48

POINT HOPE (36) -- Tuzroyluk 4 1-2 9, Nash 4 1-2 9, Frankson 1 1-2 3, A. Nashoopuk 2 0-0 4, Rock 3 4-4 11, Stone 0 0-0 0, Lane 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 14 7-10 36.

NINILCHIK (48) -- Hansen 1 0-0 2, W. Leman 6 8-12 20, Russo 0 0-0 0, Matson 0 0-0 0, Moerlein 4 2-4 10, Bosick 7 2-4 16, B. Leman 0 0-0 0, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Deiman 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 18 12-21 48.

3-point goals -- Point Hope 1 (Rock), Ninilchik 0. Total fouls -- Point Hope 18, Ninilchik 11. Fouled out -- none.

Ninilchik 52, Northway 38

The Wolverines continued to surge through the tournament, putting together a 15-3 run in the second quarter Friday to put away Northway.

Ninilchik had a 30-11 lead at the half, and while the Warriors outscored the Wolverines by five points in the second half, 27-22, it wasn't nearly enough to threaten Ninilchik's lead.

Whitney Leman led the way for the Wolverines with 25 points. Molly Bosick had six points and seven rebounds.


Northway 8 3 9 18 -- 38

Ninilchik 15 15 7 15 -- 52

NORTHWAY (38) -- J. Stone 0 0-0 0, R. Frank 0 0-0 0, M. Stone 0 0-0 0, Bachman 1 0-0 2, Cronk 7 4-9 20, Graybeal 4 0-1 10, A. Frank 1 4-7 6. Totals -- 13 8-17 38.

NINILCHIK (52) -- Peterson 0 2-5 2, Hansen 1 0-0 2, W. Leman 8 7-10 25, Russo 2 0-0 4, Matson 0 0-1 0, Moerlein 1 3-4 5, Bosick 3 0-2 6, B. Leman 2 0-0 4, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Deiman 2 0-0 4, Sullivan 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 12-22 52.

3-point goals -- Northway 4 (Cronk 2, Graybeal 2), Ninilchik 2 (W. Leman 2). Total fouls -- Northway 17, Ninilchik 16. Fouled out -- none.

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