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State champions receive a hero’s welcome

The Nome high school boys’ basketball team are reigning state champions. The team was welcomed home with great fanfare and celebration.

The team won the boys’ state basketball class 3A tournament by beating a private high school in Anchorage that was undefeated the entire season.

It was a close game, and for the first three quarters the Nome Nanooks trailed behind. Going into the final quarter, however, they were only one point behind. With less than a minute game left in the game, the teams were tied at 47 to 47 points. Nome senior Dawson Schaeffer scored the tiebreaking basket with 16 seconds left in the game, leading his team to a 49-47 point victory – the first state championship title since 1983.

In true Nome tradition, the town was ecstatic when the news of victory broke. Community members used social media to organize an impromptu welcome parade to meet the team’s flight at the airport and escort them home. Mayor John Handeland announced a formal parade route and encouraged Nomeites to join with their vehicles or stand outside and cheer. Nome’s first responder vehicles led the parade, with homemade signs and pompoms lining the streets to celebrate the win.

“I haven’t seen too many communities do something like that,” Schaeffer later told Alaska Sports Report. “I think it shows how close we are in rural Alaska with one another.”

Image at top: Alaska’s 2022 3A boys’ basketball state champions, the Nome-Beltz Nanoooks, and fans celebrate their victory. (Image courtesy of Nome-Beltz Student Activities, used with permission.)

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