The Cordova boys, who placed third at the 2A State Tournament in Anchorage on March 14-16, 2024, proudly display their Sportsmanship Award. Back row, left to right: Vincent Nothstine, John Itliong, Thomas Nothstine, Noah Pearson, Calvin Fry, Floyd Witsoe, and Chiko Jacob. Front row left to right: Austin Schandel, Sam Pulido, James Corales Blake Bailey, Dexter Gasmen, Danilo So, Sean Ybanez. Photo courtesy of Jake Borst

The Cordova boys’ dream of capturing the school’s first ever 2A ASAA State Title in basketball ended on Friday, March 15, when they were defeated 38-34 by eventual champion Petersburg in the state semi-finals at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage. 

A large contingent of Cordova fans and the Cordova Cheer Team were there to root them on. 

It was a classic battle between two excellent 2A teams. Defense and ball control were keys in a low scoring affair.  

Cordova led 13-8 after one quarter and 23-17 at half time.  

Petersburg held Cordova to 4 points in the third quarter to tie it 27-27 at the end of that quarter, and outscored Cordova 11-7 in the last stanza to win by 4 points.   

Games at state in the 30-point range are rare, and the stats for this one were befuddling. Cordova out-rebounded Petersburg 17-12 and had sevent turnovers compared to 10 for Petersburg. 

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Three-pointers that didn’t go in were a factor.  

Normally a big part of the Cordova offense, the Wolverines shot one for 12 from beyond the arc, well below their season average. Petersburg hit two of five.  

And then there was free throws. Petersburg shot 10 for 19 from the foul line; Cordova shot only one free throw in the entire game with the lone point from charity stripe coming in the first half.  

“We were in the game but could only shoot 25% in the second half,” said Cordova’s coach Jake Borst. “Plus we were not able to get to the free throw line, giving up 17 attempts to them in the second half.” 

“But what I am most proud of was our defense,” added Borst. “It was tremendous all night. Plus our ability to handle the pressure, size, and physicality, only turning the ball over eight times was impressive.” 

No Wolverine scored in double digits; Calvin Fry and Noah Pearson led CHS with 7 points apiece.  

Cordova advanced to the semifinals with a tense 48-45 win over Wrangell on Thursday, March 14. Wrangell took an 18-15 lead at the quarter; Cordova bounced back to tie it 29-29 at halftime. CHS outscored Wrangell 19-16 in the second half to win by 3 points.  

John Itliong led CHS with 19 points; Floyd Witsoe hit doubles with 12. 

In what seemed like a constant battle with tough Southeast Alaska teams, Cordova ended up facing Metlakatla in the game for third place on Saturday, March 16. CHS led 11-6 at the quarter, and 20-17 at the half. A big 17-point third quarter by Cordova gave the CHS a 37-26 lead with eight minutes left, and the Wolverines held on to win 47-42. 

Itliong and Fry led Cordova with 13 points apiece; Chiko Jacob added 12. 

Petersburg went on to defeat Hooper Bay 41-33 in the state championship game. 

A proud Cordova team returned to town via ferry late Sunday, March 17, with a hard-earned Third Place 2A  State tournament trophy, and also the State 2A Tournament Sportsmanship Award, plus the State 2A Academic Achievement Award for Highest Team G.P.A.  

Cordova’s Itliong and Jacob were selected to the 2A State All-Tournament team. 

“I’m proud of the character of all these young men. They are bright, kind, driven people who never gave up,” said Borst. “Taking home the Sportsmanship Award and the Academic Award shows they are all a coach could ask for in a student-athlete.” 

Cordova Individual scoring  

Cordova vs Wrangell: John Itliong 19, Floyd Witsoe 12, Calvin Fry 2, Noah Pearson 6, Chiko Jacob 7, Vincent Nothstine 2.  

Cordova vs. Petersburg: Calvin Fry 7, Noah Pearson 7, John Itliong 6, Chiko Jacob 6, Floyd Witsoe 4, James Corales 2, Vincent Nothstine 2.   

Cordova vs. Metlakatla: John Itliong 13, Calvin Fry 13, Chiko Jacob 12, Vincent Nothstine 4, Floyd Witsoe 3, James Corales 2.   

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