The Nome-Beltz boys’ basketball team will get the chance to defend their 3A state championship.
The No. 2-seed Nanooks won their semi-final match against No. 3 Houston 68-63 at the ASAA March Madness State Championship Tournament on Thursday.
Nome trailed by five at the end of the first half, but the win came as a double-overtime thriller emerged – one that saw the teams tied 57-57 in the first overtime, and 61-61 at the start of the second bonus round.
With the game tied at 63-63 in the second overtime, Nanooks Finn Gregg and Orson Hoogendorn dropped five unanswered points — and the crowd went wild.
His players started to feel the physical pain of two overtimes at the end of the game — but they stuck it out for the win, according to Nanook head coach Patrick Callahan.
“Jade Greene and Finn Gregg especially were having major leg cramps,” Callahan said. “Just the will to continue playing despite that, and to win the game, was unbelievable.”
Nome’s journey to the championship game began Wednesday, March 22, when the Nanooks played the Barrow Whalers and defeated them 65-50.
The Nanooks will now have the chance to repeat as champs as they face No. 1-seed Grace Christian in the finals, for the big prize of the 2023 3A crown. The game will be a replay of the 2022 championship, which Nome-Beltz won 49-47.
Callahan is optimistic about his team’s chances.
“Grace Christian was heavily favored last year to win the state tournament,” Callahan said. “They are heavily favored again this year. So, they’ve got a lot of pressure riding on them. I feel like we’re the team with a lot less pressure on us. They’re trying to meet expectations and we’re exceeding expectations right now. We’re just we’re super excited to be in that Saturday game again.”
Grace made it to the finals by defeating No. 4 Mt. Edgecumbe 50-33 on Thursday night.
The championship game is set to be played Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center on the UAA campus in Anchorage. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.
Image at top: Nanook senior Jade Greene (No. 13) drives to the basket against Houston in the 3A semi-finals on March 23, 2023. Photos by James Mason (2023)