Vikings Take Second at State
The Petersburg High School boys’ basketball team are the 2A Alaska State Runner-Up for 2015–16. Early round victories over Bristol Bay (47–26) and Unalakleet (56–39) in last weekend’s state tournament set up a showdown with the Unalaska Raiders for the championship at Anchorage’s Alaska Airlines Center.
As it became apparent early on in Saturday’s championship, this matchup was a defensive clash, with both teams scoring just six after one quarter. The offenses opened up a bit in the second quarter, with Unalaska leading 18–16 headed into the break. Junior Stewart Conn had 10 points in the first half.
Junior Wolf Brooks and senior Jordan Lapeyri got in foul trouble early, which Coach Rick Brock says caught up to the team in the third quarter. The Raiders outscored PHS 17–8 in the third to break the game open, and after shooting just 6 free throws in the first half, Unalaska ended up shooting 27 for the game, as opposed to 4 for the Vikings.
The late-game effort fell short, as Unalaska took home the title, 49–39. For the game, the shooting statistics were relatively even, with both shooting around 60% from two point field goals and poorly from three. The difference was made at the foul line. Conn ended up with 15 points, while junior Alan McCay had 10. For UHS, Krukoff had 11 points, and the Enlow twins had 11 and 9 points.
Following the tournament, both Brock and Wittstock acknowledged the success of the season (19 wins, region champions, and second in state). “We overcame some big hurdles this year,” Brock said. “I’m very proud of the way we grew as a team, and proud of the accomplishments. It’s not easy to win a regional title and get in the state championship game with a team that’s never been to state.”
As for next year, Conn says the team will use this experience and be better because of it. “Everybody coming back — we’ve already told each other we’re going to work all offseason to get better. We’ll be ready.”
How They Got There
The first quarter of Thursday’s opening round matchup with the Bristol Bay Angels was tight, with the Vikings clinging to a 9–7 lead. That was when Petersburg’s defensive pressure stepped up, outscoring the Angels 16–0 in the second quarter to take a 25–7 halftime lead. Conn had 12 points in the half, and sophomore Mark Neidiffer had 5.
Bristol Bay made a run in the third, outscoring PHS 15–8, but a 14–4 fourth quarter sealed the 47–26 victory for the Vikings. Conn ended up with 20 points, Wolf Brooks had 10 points and 21 rebounds, and the Vikings’ defense held Bristol Bay to 23% shooting.
Senior Kjell Wittstock says defense was a staple for Viking’s practices and games, “[In practice] we were always doing something defensively every day. It helped throughout the season, and made our defense stronger and stronger individually and as a team.”
The Vikings again shut down the opposition in Friday’s semifinal game with Unalakleet, winning 56–39. PHS came out on fire, shooting 70% in the first half to lead 29–20. The game was put away with a 17–9 third quarter. McCay led the way with 15 points, while Conn had 13 and Brooks had a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Wittstock held Taylor Harvey, a main Unalakleet player to just 5 points on 4–15 shooting, and Unalakleet shot 3–18 from three. Seniors Jordan Lapeyri and Ethan Bryner had 7 and 6 points.
Prior to state, Conn was selected to the All-State first team, while Brooks made the third team. After the games, both were named the State All-Tournament team and seniors Wittstock and Bryner were selected by Coach Brock for the Good Sport Award.
Following the tournament, Wittstock reflected on his time as a Viking, “I wouldn’t choose a different school in this state — or anywhere… I’ve loved every second of playing for Coach Brock. I had the best time and was able to be surrounded by great friends of mine throughout all four years of playing sports here in Petersburg.”