Cordova accepts the Team Sportsmanship Award at the 46th Annual Valdez Elk Basketball Tournament on Feb. 10, 2024. Photo courtesy of Jake Borst

The Cordova High School (CHS) boys fell to perennial 3A powerhouse Nome 60-42 in the opening round of the Valdez Elks Tournament on Feb. 8. The Nanooks showed they knew how to shoot threes, making ten total for the game — which means that half their 60 points came from beyond the arc. Top scorers for CHS were John Itliong and Noah Pearson, each with 9 points, and Chico Jacob with 8.  

In the second round of the tournament, the CHS boys clobbered longtime 3A Aurora Conference rival Eielson on Feb. 9. Meetings between the Wolverines and Ravens are a rarity now that CHS is classified as 2A, and Eielson remains 3A. 

Cordova prevailed by a lopsided 55-31 final. Red-hot three-point shooting in the first half was the difference, as Cordova poured in six treys to lead 40-12 at the half. Solid defense was also key, as CHS stayed out of foul trouble and Eieison shot only four free throws in the entire game, making two of them. 

Top scorers for Cordova were Itliong, who led with 12 points; Jacob with 10; and Pearson with 9, all on three-pointers. 

Seward had two days to scout Cordova prior to their matchup with CHS on Feb. 10. They used an effective zone press to cause several turnovers, plus an aggressive man-to-man defense to take away the three-point shots. It was a tight contest all the way. Cordova trailed 12-8 at the quarter, 22-18 at the half, and 33-27 after three quarters. 

Cordova cut the lead to 33-30 with 6:26 left in the game, and the Seahawks went into a four corners delay offense with 4:40 to go. The finish was a nail biter. Cordova got it down to a 2-point deficit 43-41, with 1:32 to go. Cordova missed three three-point attempts in that span and had to foul to stop the clock. 

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Seward made six of eight free throws to win 49-44. Leading Cordova scoring was Jacob with 12 points and Floyd Witsoe with 11. 

The Cordova boys won the Team Sportsmanship Award. 

“It was an exciting weekend of basketball and I’m proud of the way we battled against our three 3A opponents,” said Coach Jake Borst. “We are all excited to get back for Homecoming and to get to celebrate this Senior Class during Senior Night.”  

This story originally ran in the Feb. 16 issue of 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].