The Ninilchik High School girls basketball team dominated the ASAA State 2A Basketball Tournament, and this year's Alaska Media All-State selections reflect that feat.
Ninilchik's Theresa Chihuly was named the 2A/1A girls Player of the Year, while teammates Tasha Leman and Whitney Leman are both first-team selections.
In fact, four of the five spots on the first team are filled by peninsula players -- Seldovia's Jaime Geagel made the cut -- and Sea Otters head coach Sara Nichols was named the 2A/1A girls Coach of the Year.
Nikiski junior Laura Berdahl was named to the 4A/3A girls second team, and Kenai senior Cory Hershberger made the 4A/3A girls third team.
"I definitely didn't expect it," Chihuly said after learning of her selection. "Every year, it's fun to see who's going to be the next Player of the Year. There's a lot of good players in the state."
Chihuly is the fourth Wolverine player to earn Player of the Year honors in the past five seasons. Mandi Bock did it with the 1996 Wolverines, and Trisha Nobles was lauded with the title in 1997. Ninilchik won state titles in both of those seasons.
Corrie Lindeman won Player of the Year honors in 1998 for a Wolverine team that placed third in the state, before Klawock broke Ninilchik's hold on the honor -- and its hope for another state title -- in 1999.
"I'm honored to be put up with those players," Chihuly said. "When you have a good team and a good coach, it brings out the best in you."
Chihuly said that being recognized as the top small-schools player in the state was as exciting as winning a state title, though the two awards have different connotations for her.
"I'd have to say that (the state title) meant a lot," Chihuly said. "That was a goal we set, and we did it with the team as a whole. Twelve girls came together to do that -- but this ranks up there."
Nichols, Geagel and Seldovia honorable mention Jacquelyn Brown may have lost to Ninilchik in the state final, but just being able to put a team on the floor was considered an impossible feat at this time last year.
"Have I said how proud of them I am?" Nichols, in her second season as coach, said following the state championship game. "Talent sure does make a coach look good."
Nichols said that the key to the Sea Otters' run through the state tournament was that they were able to come together as a team during the regular season, a part of the game the right coach can have a lot of influence over.
"I had three girls that had played together, and three other girls that had played together, but all six had never played as a team," Nichols said. "They certainly gelled in the last month of the season -- it's team chemistry, on and off the court, knowing each other, knowing how each other plays. They seem to work well together."
Berdahl said that teamwork carried the Nikiski girls to their state title.
"Some games were good, some games were all right," Berdahl said. "When we played as a team, we were at our best."
Berdahl was flattered to mentioned as one of the top players in the state.
"I never expected it, but it's neat when something like that happens," Berdahl said.
Hershberger has similar sentiments.
"Being ranked up there with anyone from East sounds good to me," Hershberger said. "I felt like I had a pretty decent region tournament."
Hershberger earned an honorable mention last season.
"I'm working my way up," Hershberger said. "Too bad I don't have another season."
Alaska Media High School All-State Basketball Team
The 1999-2000 high school all-state basketball team, as selected by a panel of Alaska sportswriters and compiled by the Anchorage Daily News. Players are listed with height, class and school.
Player of the Year -- Jessica Moore, Colony
Coach of the Year -- Ron Hoffman, Anchorage Christian Schools
First team -- Jessica Moore, 6-foot-2, Jr., Colony; Azella Perryman, 6-2, Jr., East; Tenecia Macon, 6-1, So., East; Aquanita Burras, 5-8, Jr., Lathrop; Taylor Long, 6-0, Sr., Grace Christian.
Second team -- Katie Williams, 5-10, Sr., Palmer; Laura Berdahl, 6-0, Jr., Nikiski; Natalie Jones, 5-7, So., East; Tanya Nizich, 5-8, Sr., Juneau-Douglas; Tami Callison, 5-5, Jr., Palmer.
Third team -- Krystle Robertson, 5-9, Sr., Chugiak; Alina Minnick, 5-11, Sr., Wasilla; Cory Hershberger, 5-7, Sr., Kenai; Brittney Kroon, 6-4, So., Wasilla; Alicia Adams, 6-0, Sr., Chugiak.
Honorable mention -- Mary Scudero, Sr., Ketchikan; Renaye Lavin, Sr., Wasilla; Sally Glaze, So., Nikiski; Denisha Lamb, Jr., Eielson; Erin Carr, Jr. Seward; Lucy LeBaron, Sr., Anchorage Christian Schools; Trista White, Fr. Lathrop; Halane Isidore, Sr., Mt. Edgecumbe; Cayane McFarlane, Jr., Lathrop; Letricia Castillo, Fr., Dimond; Ebony Lewis, Sr. Bartlett; Kelly Quinn, So., Colony.
Player of the year -- Theresa Chihuly, Ninilchik
Coach of the year -- Sara Nichols, Seldovia
First team -- Theresa Chihuly, 5-6, Sr., Ninilchik; Maureen Ballot, 5-4, Jr., Noorvik; Jaime Geagel, 5-10, Fr., Seldovia; Whitney Leman, 5-7, Fr., Ninilchik; Tasha Leman, 5-6, Sr., Ninilchik.
Second team -- Jessica Ivanoff, 5-6, Sr., Unalakleet; Fannie Bodfish, 5-6, Sr., Wainwright; Tiffany Lausen, 5-7, Sr., Tri-Valley; Heather Alexander, 5-2, Jr., Minto; Rebecca Widdrows, 5-8, Sr., Yakutat.
Honorable mention -- Jacquelyn Brown, Seldovia; Danielle Knudsen, Kake; Ardena Mongeau, Matanuska Christian; Angela Billy, Chefornak; Jasmine James, Yakutat; Timayre Towarek, Unalakleet; Elizabeth Bodfish, Wainwright; Deezee Jack, Noorvik; Nichole Jimmie, Minto; Mayanna Bean, Nenana; Liz Lewis, Anderson; Loryn Wilks; Matanuska Christian; Hilda Frankson, Point Hope.
Player of the Year -- Brandon Edwards, East
Coach of the Year -- Geno Morgan, East
First team -- Brandon Edwards, 5-10, Sr., East; Kyle Bailey, 6-2, Sr., Lathrop; Nathan Glover, 6-3, Sr., Dimond; Jason Erickson, 6-3, Sr., Chugiak; Landon Libby, 6-3, Sr., Grace Christian.
Second team -- Evan Tromble, 6-5, Sr., Juneau-Douglas; Landon Lockard, 6-0, Sr., Dimond; Ari Zandman-Zeman, 6-6, Sr., East; Peter Bullock, 6-6, Sr., East; Cole Magner, 6-1, Jr., Colony.
Third team -- Nick Billings, 6-11, Sr., Kodiak; Zach Raidmae, 6-3, Sr., Valdez; Ben Luer, 6-3, Sr., Wasilla; Ryan Broker, 6-9, Sr., Lathrop; Todd Eide, 6-1, Jr., Valdez.
Honorable mention -- Nick Buzby, Sr., Wasilla; Mike Johnson, Sr., Colony; Cody Angerman, Sr. Wrangell; Thomas Kreta, Sr., Kodiak; Jeff Huston, Sr. Houston; Andrew Smith, So., West; Tui Alailefaleula, Jr., Bartlett; David Wiehl, Sr., North Pole; Brandon Joseph, Sr., Monroe Catholic.
Player of the Year -- Lester Pitka, Angoon
Coach of the Year -- Kevin O'Brien, Angoon
First team -- Lester Pitka, 5-8, Sr., Angoon; Anthony Dolan, 5-11, Jr., Kake; Jason Frank, 6-3, Sr., Angoon; Jason Smith, 6-0, Sr., Noorvik; Ian Winklmann, 6-1, Sr., Tri-Valley.
Second team -- James Gunderson, 6-4, Sr., Sand Point; Chad Anderson, n/a, n/a, Bristol Bay; Walter Kookesh, 6-1, Sr., Angoon; Anthony Shewfelt, 5-7, Jr., Fort Yukon; Joshua Hawk, 6-0, Sr., Kake.
Honorable mention -- Peter Evon, Akiachak; Evan Olson, Tri-Valley; Stewart Erhart, Tanana; Aqpik Mulluk, Noorvik; Mitchell Snyder, Skagway; Marvin Tooves, Northway; Matt Brown, Seldovia; Dominic Swindells, Matanuska Christian; Noah Shields, Cook Inlet Academy; Arnold Marks, Tanana; Ben Kondro, Kake; John Durand, Bristol Bay.
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