In tipoff action on Jan. 20, 2024, Cordova’s John Itliong, No. 1, fires a jumper over Ninilchik defenders. Photo by Dick Shellhorn for The Cordova Times

In a dramatic finish to the 41st Cordova Tipoff here on Jan. 18-20, the Cordova boys defeated Ninilchik, defending 2A state champions, 77-68. 

With both teams playing full court defense throughout much of the game, coupled with up-tempo offense styles, fans who packed the Cordova High School (CHS) court saw some of the best basketball in a long time. 

Cordova led 17-10 at the quarter, 37-34 at half time, and trailed 58-54 after three quarters. The Wolverines had a big fourth period, outscoring Ninilchik 23-10 in that stretch to win by 9 points. Not once in the game did either team have a double-digit lead. 

Ninilchik was pretty much a two-man show. Sophomore Kade McCorison had 33 points and senior Rowan Mahoney had 25, together accounting for 58 of their 68 total points. 

In an anomaly of scoring rarely seen, Cordova had four players with 13 points: John Itliong, Floyd Witsoe, Noah Pearson, and Chico Jacob. 

Cordova made eight 3-pointers, Ninilchik made seven; CHS was whistled for 20 fouls, Ninilchik had 17. 


Chances are very good these two teams will meet in the conference playoffs at Nenana on March 7-9. 

Cordova clobbered Nenana 62-11 in the Jan. 19 matchup. 

Everyone played; Itliong led the scoring with 20 points; Pearson was also in double digits with 10. 

Thursday’s opening round matchup was a lesson in momentum. Cordova was cruising against South Anchorage JV’s, leading 29-14 at half time. South had scored only 5 points in the second quarter.  

CHS extended their lead to 45-26 after three quarters. 

South, led by Trevor Maltby — who finished with 17 points, including 12 in the last eight minutes — outscored Cordova 25-4 in the last period to garner a comeback win by a 53-49 final.  

Vincent Nothstine led Cordova with 15 points, Jacob also hit double digits with 12. 

With two wins and one loss, Cordova earned the second place trophy. Undefeated South finished first. 

Cordova also was selected for the Sportsmanship Award. 

Cordova’s Witsoe, Jacob, and Nothstine were selected to the eight-member all-tournament team. 

The tournament Most Valuable Player Award went to McCorison of Ninilchik.  

Lady Wolverines scoot by Palmer JV at tipoff  

In a tense, low-scoring battle, the Cordova Lady Wolverines scooted passed Palmer JV team in the first round of the 41st Cordova tipoff here on Thursday, Jan. 18. 

The first quarter ended with Palmer leading 6-5, but Cordova held the visitors to 2 points on a pair of free throws in the second quarter and 4 points in the third quarter, also on free throws. 

Meanwhile Cordova went on a run in the second quarter, led by three baskets by Katie Pallas, to take a 14-8 advantage at half time. Each team scored 12 points in the second half to give Cordova their first win at home this season by a 26-20 final. 

Anika Jensen and Pallas lead the Cordova scoring with 6 points apiece. 

In round two of the tournament, Cordova ran into a deep and well-balanced Nenana squad. Led by big and talented post player Sophie McManus, who scored 20 points, plus an array of sharp shooting perimeter players who combined for ten 3-pointers, the Lynx rambled to 59-35 win. 

The Lynx would go on to be undefeated champions in the tournament, with McManus scoring the Most Valuable Player Award. They were also chosen for the team Sportsmanship Award. 

Cordova faced Ninilchik in their final game, and against a tough and veteran squad, points were hard to find. CHS had four points in both the first and second quarter and one point in the third before scoring 11 points in the final stanza to fall by a 33-20 final. 

Cordova’s Pallas and Isabelle Nothstine were named to the All-Tournament Team. 

Coach Brooks Fry knows he has a work in progress.  

“The heart and hustle of these girls is phenomenal,” he said. “Our defensive effort was very strong and definitely challenged the opposing teams. I am super proud of our teamwork and strong team chemistry. We have work to do and we will continue to get better.” 

“This group of girls is having such a fun time doing it and working together,” he added.  

Cordova will begin conference play when Su-Valley comes here Friday, Jan. 26 and Saturday, Jan. 27.  The only other home games will be on Feb. 16-17 versus Effie Kokrine.