Boerger’s Grizzlies capture State 3A Crown

Former Cordova coach guides Grace Christian to victory

Grace Christian, a Cordova High School rival for several years when Cordova was in the 3A South-central Conference, won the State 3A title in Alaska’s version of March Madness, topping Monroe 34-33, in the championship game on March 25. The Grizzlies were coached by former Cordova coach Jason Boerger, who guided CHS to its only appearance in the 3A championship games in 32 years of ASAA’s 1A-4A classification system.

Under Boerger, a Cordova squad lead by Tyson Bendazk, Kellen Hawley, and Kynan Adams  lost to Heritage Christian in the 2006 finals.  Boerger, who coached in Nome for two years and played his high school ball in Seward, spent eight years at the helm of the Wolverines. In 2013 he moved on to Grace Christian, where he served as his father Chuck Boerger’s assistant for one year prior to taking the head coaching job.

Grace has made it to the 3A Finals in three of the last four years, with powerhouses Monroe and Barrow thwarting their championship efforts. This year’s title ended a 16 year drought for the Grizzlies.

Grace did it with stifling defense, as indicated by the low scoring final totals.

“We may have set the game back 30 years”, joked Boerger.

It helped that Grizzly Tobin Karlberg, this year’s 3A Player of the Year, shot a perfect 7 for 7 from inside the arc. Neither team shot a single free throw in the contest, and Boerger had his Grizzlies sag back in a zone and challenge Monroe to make the three’s.  The Ram’s missed four contested shots from long range in the final 30 seconds, as the Grizzlies held Monroe to 3 points in the fourth quarter.

Several of his former Cordova players, as well as local fans, were on hand to congratulate Boerger after the big win.

“I really appreciate them being there and reaching out”, said Boerger. “Those were some great years in Cordova, and played a big part in my coaching career.”

Speaking of coaching careers, guess where the Coach who won a state title on Saturday was two days later – mentoring  35 Grace Christian third graders in an after-school little dribblers program.

Longtime Cordova rival Valdez also advanced to 3A State, and is having quite a resurgence under Coach Todd Wegner, back at the helm after a long hiatus. After topping ACS 68-56 in the first round, the Buccaneers lost to Monroe 42-40 in the semi-finals.

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Dick Shellhorn, author, reporter, ref and grandpa, can be reached at Shellhorn was born and raised in Cordova, Alaska, and has lived there his entire life. He has been writing sports stories for the Cordova Times for over 40 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.