Tough Tipoff competition derails Wolverines

Cordova receives Boys Sportsmanship Award

Cordova Coach Bert Adams, who played for Yakutat in the first Cordova Tip-off back in 1982, exhorts the Wolverines in the 37th Annual Tip-off Tournament on Jan. 19, 2019. (Photo by Vivian Kennedy/The Cordova Times)

The Cordova Wolverines ran their season-long win streak to nine games in the opening round of the Cordova Tipoff here on Jan. 17-19, before tumbling to highly ranked 2A competition the next two days.

CHS topped the Palmer JV 44-35 in Thursday’s game, but then fell to Tikigaq (Pt. Hope) 59-58 in Friday’s matchup, and Metlakatla, 46-35, in Saturday’s contest.

Entering the tournament, Metlakatla was ranked No. 1 in the State, Cordova No. 2, and Tikigaq No. 5, in the Alaska Coaches Poll.

Palmer proved to be a stubborn foe in Game 1. Cordova held the Moose scoreless in the first quarter and led 17-6 at halftime. Palmer battled back to outscore Cordova in the second half 28-27, but lost by 9.

Kaiden Graves topped CHS with 15 points; Evan Gatton added 13. Keegan Norman led Palmer with 14.

Friday’s Cordova-Tikigaq matchup was a barn-burner, with both teams trading three-pointers in the closest game of the tournament. CHS had a 31-28 advantage at halftime. Both teams pressed throughout the contest, and spurts of up-tempo fast breaks created several lead changes.

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Trailing by one, with the crowd on its feet, Cordova missed a chance to win in the closing seconds, as an errant pass right near the hoop went out of bounds.

Graves finished with a game high 25 points, including six three-pointers; Gatton added 12.  Galen Cannon and Henry Kowunna led Tikigaq with 18 and 15 respectively.

Cordova struggled against a zone defense by Metlakatla, scoring 12 points in the first half, while garnering only two points on a pair of free throws in the second quarter. Yet they trailed the Chiefs by only seven at intermission.

Cordova three-pointers were not dropping in the second half, as Metlakatla pulled away to win by 11. The Wolverines were held to 35 points for the night, their lowest offensive output of the season.

Graves was the only Wolverine in double digits with 12 points; 6-3 post player Conrad Hudson led Metlakatla with 18.

Tikigaq finished Tipoff champions, going 3-0, including a 76-71 win over Metlakatla and 89-59 romp over Palmer.  Metlakatla finished second, Cordova third.

Individual scoring:

Game 1: Cordova: Graves 15, Gatton 13, Bailey 8, Bradford 6, Estes 2. Palmer: Reem 3, Lovejoy 3, Evans 4, Halbert 9, Chapman 14, Christiansen 2. Game 2: Graves 25, Gatton 12, Bailey 6, Carrilo 4, Bradford 6, Estes 5. Tikigaq: Cannon 18, Nukapigak 9, Tuzroyluk 7, Kowuma 15, Frankson, 2, Hill 8. Game 3: Cordova: Pena 6, Graves 12, Gatton 3, Bailey 2, Carillo 1, Bradford 6, Estes 5. Metlakatla: Hayword 9, King 8, Casperson 9, Rolando 2, Hudson 18.

Cordova received the Boys Sportsmanship Award. The Tipoff All-Tournament team was Kaiden Graves and Evan Gatton of Cordova, Jalen Cannon and Henry Kowunna of Tikigaq, Desmond King and Conrad Hudson of Metlakatla, and Ethan Chapman and Mike Reem of Palmer.

Tikigaq’s Jalen Cannon was selected Tournament Most Valuable Player.

Now 9-2 on the season, CHS is back on the road this weekend, for conference games versus Tok on Jan. 25-26.

Cordova’s Rustyn Bradford, 42, drives past Metlakatla defenders during the 37th Annual Tipoff Tournament in Cordova.
Photo by David Little/for The Cordova Times
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Dick Shellhorn
Dick Shellhorn is a lifelong Cordovan. He has been writing sports stories for the Cordova Times for over 50 years. In his Cordova Chronicles features, he writes about the history and characters of this Alaska town. Alaska Press Club awarded Shellhorn first place for Best Humor column in 2016 and 2020, and third place in 2017 and 2019. He also received second place for Best Editorial Commentary in 2019. Shellhorn has written two books about Alaska adventures: Time and Tide and Balls and Stripes. Reach him at [email protected].