The Bulldog Nation has more to cheer about.
After leading the Nikiski High girls basketball team to their seventh state title in 12 years, the top honors in Class 3A individual achievement went to the Bulldogs today when senior Karen Rabung was named Player of the Year and head coach Ward Romans was named Coach of the Year.
As is characteristic of the team's unselfishness, however, both Romans and Rabung credited the rest of the Nikiski girls program for contributing to their recognition.
"Anything I get is a direct reflection on our coaching staff," Romans said, referring to assistants Vern Kornstad, Micki Patterson and Richie Patterson.
Romans said he was not expecting the honor, which he received for the fourth time in his career as head coach at Nikiski, getting the nod in 1993, 1996 and 1997.
"I never think about it, to be honest," he said. "As a coach, I never do anything different when planning for the year. We never talk about anything like this."
Rabung said returning to the title spot after losing five seniors last year made Romans an easy choice for the award.
"We lost five of our dominant players last year," she said about 2002 graduated players Emily Gillaspie, Joy Carr, Sally Glaze, Amanda Weaver and April Lofstedt. "And look what he did to our team. He took us from the beginning of the year, and set goals for us to meet.
"He's a great coach. He got us to see where he wanted us to be at the end of the season."
Although Romans said he wasn't anticipating any recognition for his coaching this year, he said Rabung's nomination came as no surprise to him.
"With all the problems she's faced throughout the year with teams scheming to keep the ball out of her hands, she was still able to overcome them and do as well as she did," he said.
Rabung averaged 19 points per game and and a school-record 10.9 rebounds per game during the season. She nabbed a total of 291 rebounds on the year, another school record.
"She was able to work through all of those defensive schemes and double teams," Romans said.
Rabung, who admitted to being caught off guard by the honor, said she would not have been able to lead the team and be successful without help from the coaching staff and her teammates.
"That wasn't me alone," she said. "Whenever there was pressure on me, my team was great about stepping up and doing what needed to be done. And once they started scoring, that opened up the floor."
Rabung took on the mantle of leadership at the beginning of the season, being named co-captain, and Romans said she handled the responsibility well.
"I'm proud of her leadership," he said.
Rabung credited the coaching staff for making her task as leader easy, however.
"The coaches took a lot of pressure off of me," she said. "They just told me to go out there and do what I'm supposed to do."
Seniors Hisa Miyara and Katie Floyd also received All-State nominations, respectively making the All-State First and Second teams. Romans said the applauds are shared when the team does well.
"With team success, naturally comes individual recognition," Romans said.
But although the Bulldogs will be looking, once again, to reload in the coming season, Romans said he is still savoring the team's 2003 success.
"We're still enjoying this year," he said. "We haven't thought about next year."
Several Kenai Peninsula cagers received the nod in Class 4A All-State naming. Soldotna senior Rachel Besse was named to the All-State Girls' First team and senior teammate Jennifer Senette received Second team honors. Soldotna's Hillary Zobeck received an Honorable Mention.
On the boys side of the Class 4A, Homer senior Ben Kuhns and Kenai Kardinals Ian Foley, Steve Steiner and Caleb Schooley received Honorable Mentions.
Anchorage Daily News/Alaska Media All-State Basketball Team
Player of the Year -- Raymond Douville, Craig
Coach of the Year -- James Carle, Craig
First team -- Raymond Douville, 5-10 sr., Craig; Carl Arts, 6-5 jr., Valdez; Mark Banner, 6-4 jr., Valdez; Fred Hamilton, 6-0 sr., Craig; Teddy Street, 6-0 sr., Bethel.
Second team -- Rusty Gutierrez, 6-1 jr., Heritage Christian; Aaron Severson, 6-8 sr., Petersburg; Matt Fisher, 6-6 jr., Delta Junction; Jack Packer, 6-2 sr., Barrow; Jordan Savage, 6-1 sr., Craig.
Honorable Mention -- Sam Adams, Delta Junction; Todd Alden, Anchorage Christian; Chris Bryant, Metlakatla; Kris Craig, Valdez; Harley Danner, Barrow; Steve Echtinaw, Eielson; Eric Hamilton, Craig; Tim Ingalls, Grace Christian; Randy Lam, Monroe Catholic; Zach Madren, Anchorage Christian; Jared Reando, Heritage Christian; Jason Reando, Heritage Christian; D.J. Sandidge, Houston; Evan Skinner, Eielson; Kyle Skinner, Petersburg; Josh Thomas, Barrow; Travis Weiss, Nome.
Player of the Year -- Karen Rabung, Nikiski
Coach of the Year -- Ward Romans, Nikiski
First team -- Karen Rabung, 6-0 sr., Nikiski; Janay DeLoach, 5-6 sr., Eielson; Martina Leavitt, 5-2 jr., Barrow; Hisa Miyara, 5-4 sr., Nikiski; Evelyn Conwell, 5-8 sr., Kotzebue.
Second team -- Katie Floyd, 5-7 sr., Nikiski; Michelle Dieckgraeff, 5-10 sr., Seward; Carolyn Berg, 5-11 jr., Monroe Catholic; Kayleigh Short, 5-8 jr., Petersburg; Britni Burchell, 6-1 jr., Petersburg.
Honorable Mention -- Barb Benson, Barrow; Krista Birchell, Petersburg; Katie Blackburn, Valdez; Elizabeth Bodfish, Barrow; Lisa Burglin, Monroe Catholic; Naomi Brunette, Nome; Stephanie Christiansen, Grace Christian; Brandy Cole, Petersburg; Tara DeRuwe, Seward; Heather Douville, Craig; Ellie Jackson, Mt. Edgecumbe; Ann Linville, Seward; Maggie Matteson, Heritage Christian; Vanessa McCormick, Eielson; Ella Morris, Mt. Edgecumbe; Brittany Peterson, Anchorage Christian, Linnea Pudwill, Houston; Leah Stepovich, Monroe Catholic.
Player of the Year -- Mario Chalmers, Bartlett
Coach of the Year -- Ronnie Chalmers, Bartlett
First team -- Mario Chalmers, 6-2 so., Bartlett; Ray Schafer, 7-0 sr., Wasilla; Chris Devine, 6-8 sr., Chugiak; Buddy Bailey, 6-2 sr., Wasilla; Doug Hardy, 5-10 jr., Bartlett.
Second team -- Byron Wild, 6-5 sr., Juneau-Douglas; Joe Reza, 6-2 sr., Colony; Ozelle Jamestown, 6-2 jr., East; Ryan Shaver, 6-5 sr., Lathrop; Bennie Holt, 6-4 sr., East.
Honorable Mention -- Joe Ayers, Juneau-Douglas; Calin Bjur, Ketchikan; Zack Bowman, Bartlett; Daniel Brown, Bartlett; Justin Coffman, Colony; Ian Foley, Kenai; Bryan Hamey, Juneau-Douglas; Jordan Jamestown, East; Ben Kuhns, Homer; Aaron Loges, Chugiak; Josh Lohrenz, West Valley; Chad Mortenson, Kodiak; Kinzey Reeves, Lathrop; Luke Schafer, Wasilla; Caleb Schooley, Kenai; Steve Steiner, Kenai; Vince Stewart, Dimond; Landon Swank, Colony.
Player of the Year -- Ashley Mickens, East
Coach of the Year -- Jon Schroeder, Chugiak
First team -- Ashley Mickens, 5-7 sr., East; Chandice Cronk, 5-8 jr., Wasilla; Erica Putnam, 6-1 sr., Chugiak; Marsha Schirack, 6-0 sr., Wasilla; Rachel Besse, 6-1 sr., Soldotna.
Second team -- Kari Reabold, 5-9 jr., Lathrop; Elyse Hartman, 5-9 jr., Chugiak; Jennifer Senette, 5-4 sr., Soldotna; Kristina Klapperich, 6-0 jr., Colony; Danielle Larson, 5-9 sr. Juneau-Douglas.
Honorable Mention -- Aiesha Ailey-Brown, East; Sharde Burkhead, North Pole; Emily Bolling, Palmer; Letricia Castillo, Bartlett; Kendri Cesar, Juneau-Douglas; Alaska Clooten, Lathrop; Anne Elliott, Ketchikan; Keisha Hooker, Palmer; Letasha McKoy, Juneau-Douglas; Any Neussl, Juneau-Douglas; Trista White, Wasilla; Annie Withrow, Kodiak; Sidney Wyman, Sitka; ZeeZee Young, Dimond; Hillary Zobeck, Soldotna.
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