Photo courtesy of Jake Borst

The Cordova boys advanced to the state 2A tournament with a dramatic win over Tok in the final game of the Interior Conference Playoffs at Glennallen.

Playing at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, in the battle for second place and a berth at state, Cordova was up against the same Tok team it handled easily 65-42 on Thursday, March 9. But this time it took the final frantic seconds to determine who would advance to “March Madness Alaska Style” in Anchorage this weekend.

Cordova led 24-16 at half time, but Tok, sparked by three-point shooting, poured in 22 points in the third quarter to cut Tok’s deficit to 41-38. The fourth quarter was a seesaw battle with the lead changing hands five times in five minutes after Tok first pulled ahead 47-45 with 5:25 left on the clock.

The ticket to state was on the line with Tok leading 53-52 with 29 seconds left. Cordova cashed in with a field goal at the 10 second mark. Cordova got a steal on the inbounds play and Tok fouled to stop the clock. Jaykob Thorne hit a pair of free throws with seven seconds left to give CHS a dramatic 56-53 win.

Four Wolverines were in double digits in scoring: Jaykob Thorne and Xavier Russin had 12 points, John Itliong had 11, and Wyatt Sorenson had 10.

“Our guys hit a little shooting slump this weekend, but stepped up in many other ways to get us to state,” said CHS Coach Jake Borst. “Our team defense is becoming really tough.”

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“I was really proud of their resiliency and ability to stay composed in close games,” added Borst.

Cordova opened the tournament with a 64-51 win over Effie Kokrine on March 9, followed by a 65-42 win over Tok on the same day.

But the Wolverines were no match for top-ranked defending state 2A champions Ninilchik in the championship game on Friday, March 10. Ninilchik used its speed, teamwork, and rebounding to race to a 60-31 victory.

Wolverines Wyatt Sorenson, John Itliong, and Jaykob Thorne were named to the All-Conference team, with Sorenson, Sam Heidbrink, and Dexter Gasmen named to the All-Academic team.

Cordova will join seven other 2A teams from all over Alaska for the state 2A tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage from Thursday to Saturday.

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