Alaska March Madness: Wolverines Top Bristol Bay at 2A State, 74-45

Ivanoff led Unalakleet overpowers Cordova, 53-36

The Cordova Wolverines once again made it to the State 2A tournament, held at the UAA Alaska Airlines Center at Anchorage in Alaska’s version of March Madness.

This year, CHS, seeded No. 2 out of the Interior Conference, faced No. 1 Unalakleet from Northwest Alaska, in the opening round on March 15.  The two squads had faced off in the Cordova Tipoff in mid-January, with the Wolf Pack prevailing 67-50.

Once again, the sharpshooters from out West, led by deadeyes Arctic and Aidan Ivanoff, topped Cordova, this time by a 53-36 final.  Often overlooked is the high-pressure defense employed by Unalakleet, which in this case held CHS to only 11 points in the first half and caused 13 turnovers in the game.

CHS trailed 28-11 at intermission, and despite matching Unalakleet with 25 points for each squad in the second half, could not make up the deficit.

Cordova was led by Cody Sjostedt, the only Wolverine in double digits, with 12 points.  The Ivanoffs, including Aiden, Arctic, Nathan, Dylan, and Duncan, had 50 of Unalakleet’s 53 points.

Cordova had an easy time with Bristol Bay in consolation action on March 16.  CHS rambled to a 74-45 win, with Sjostedt having his biggest game as a Wolverine, pouring in 37 points.  Christian Adams added 19.

The Saturday, March 17 battle against Petersburg for 4th place was in sharp contrast to the lopsided win over Bristol Bay.  Trailing 14-9 against the Vikings after one quarter, Cordova outscored Petersburg 18-9 in the next eight minutes to lead 27-23 at intermission.

The Vikings responded to regain a 38-37 lead with one stanza left, and hung on to win an intense, well-played contest by two points, 51-49.  Petersburg won the battle of the boards, out rebounding Cordova 22-12; Cordova outdid Petersburg on turnovers, causing 13 while only losing the ball 8 times.  Cordova had 9 fouls total; Petersburg 10.  The even statistics were reflected in the final score.

Sjostedt led Cordova with 20 points;  Kaiden Graves added 12.  Petersburg had three players in double digits, led by Gunnar Payne with 12.

Sjosted was named to the 2A State All-Tournament team and was selected to the All-State Second team.  He is the only senior on a promising young CHS squad that will return next year.

Individual scoring:

Game 1:  Cordova:  Rodrigues 2, Graves 8, Bailey 3, Sjostedt 12, Adams 9, Estes 2.  Unalakleet:  Wilson 3, Ivanoff, Aiden 22, Ivanoff, Arctic 14, Ivanoff, Nathan 6, Ivanoff, Dylan 6, Ivanoff, Duncan 2.  Game 2:  Cordova:  Rodrigues 2, Graves 9, Bailey 1, Sjostedt 37, Adams 19, Carrillo 2, Estes 4.  Bristol Bay:  Romer 23, Hill 14, Adams 8.  Game 3:  Cordova: Graves 12, Bailey 3, Sjostedt 20, Adams 7, Carrillo 2, Estes 5.  Petersburg:  Strong 1, Durkin 12, Sandhofer 7, Neidifffer 11, Wallace 8, Payne 12.

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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 and third place in 2017.