Wolverines advance to March Madness, Alaska Style

Nenana games put CHS boys in second place at conference playoffs

It wasn’t easy, but the result was a trip to the State 2A tournament for the Cordova Wolverines.  Playing every other team in the Interior Conference, the CHS boys battled through five games in Nenana on March 8-10 to finish second and advance to March Madness, Alaska Style.

Cordova, seeded No. 4, started the playoff with a close 53-51 victory over No. 5 Nenana at 11:30 am on Thursday, March 8.  The host Lynx battled back from a 30-25 halftime deficit to take a 40-37 advantage with eight minutes left, but Cordova managed to rally and win by two.

Christian Adams and Cody Sjostedt were the big guns for the Wolverines, with 20 and 16 points respectively.  Al Lane led Nenana with 27.

At 7:30 pm that same day, CHS fell to No. 1 Tok by a 60-48 final. Cordova trailed 28-20 at the intermission, and Tok gradually pulled away for the win.  Sjostedt and Adams were again top scorers for Cordova, this time with 18 and 10.  Dennis Michels and Revyn Almquist countered with 21 and 19 for Tok.

Tok would go on to top Su-Valley for first place, while CHS had to battle back through the Consolation bracket.  On Friday, March 9, the Wolverines cruised past No. 6 Effie Kokrine 55-40, with Sjostedt and Adams again leading the way, this time with 19 and 12.

Then came a pair of key games on Saturday, March 10, with only a two-hour break between the contests.  CHS bested No. 3 Glennallen 47-40 in a game that started at 9 am, with Adams and Sjostedt leading Cordova with 22 and 13 points, while for the third time in four games Kaiden Graves added 10.

The third quarter proved to be the momentum turner, as Cordova held the Panthers to only 4 points while pouring in 15 in that eight minute stretch.

At 12:30 pm, facing a well-rested SuValley squad playing its only game of the day, CHS jumped to a 26-14 halftime advantage, only to watch SuValley battle back to cut it to a 32-30 deficit with one quarter left.  Somehow Cordova held on to win, mainly due to some outstanding free throw shooting.

The Rams held Cordova to only three field goals in the second half, yet CHS hit 9 of 11 free throws to win 44-41.  Sjostedt poured in 28 points, including a 13 out of 15 from the charity stripe.

Cody Sjostedt and Christian Adams were named to the All-Conference team.

Individual scoring:

Game 1:  Cordova:  Rodrigues 2, Graves 10, Bailey 2, Sjostedt 16, Adams 20, Estes 3.  Nenana:  McManus 1, Phillips 5, Oktollik 10, Lane 27, Stephans 1.  Game 2:  Cordova:  Rodrigues 5, Graves 9, Frohnafel 3, Sjostedt 18, Adams 10, Estes 3.  Tok:  Almquist 19, Michels 21, Weisz 9, Frank 7, Bolieu 2.  Game 3:  Cordova:  Graves 10, Bailey 5, Sjostedt 19, Adams 12, Estes 7.  Effie Kokrine:  Kokrine 2, Snow 7, Thomas 23, Nakak 2, Rubke 2, Brockmeyer 2, Evans 3, Ishnook 2.  Game 4:  Cordova:  Graves 10, Sjostedt 13, Adams 22, Estes 2.  Glennallen:  Jones 13, Weimer 2, Fields 15, Doty 2, Speers 7.  Game 5:  Cordova:  Bailey 5, Sjostedt 28, Adams 3, Carrillo 2, Estes 6.  SuValley:  Hueton 8, Jolly 2, Drover 6, Jolley 4, Morgan 13, Snyder 4, Kingery 4.

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Dick Shellhorn, author, reporter, ref and grandpa, can be reached at shorn@gci.net. 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 and third place in 2017.