Cordova boys win Rally the Regions tournament

Wolverines top 1A, 2A teams in fourth annual Hardwood Classic

Cordova’s Wolverines won the Rally the Regions tournament at Dimond High in Anchorage on Jan. 2-5, topping 1A and 2A teams from all parts of Alaska in the fourth annual Hardwood Classic.

This year, the unique tournament featured Southeast teams from Haines and Wrangell,  Northwest squads from Scammon Bay and Selawik, and Tok and Cordova from central Alaska.

The tournament began with three days of round-robin match-ups, followed by a pairing of the best performing squads in the championship games.

“This tournament was established, in part, to bring together teams from all over the state who would otherwise not have a chance to compete against each other,” said Heath Day, Rally Alaska founder and tournament director.

Cordova posted a 64-40 win over Selawik in the opening round on January 2. CHS never trailed, and was led by Kaiden Graves (19 points), Evan Gatton (16), and Christian Adams (13).

The Wolverines cruised by Scammon Bay 67-45 on Jan. 3, behind a tournament-high 29 points from Adams. Graves was also in double digits with 13.

Cordova’s win over Wrangell in Friday’s final round-robin play required a spirited comeback. CHS trailed by as much as ten points in the contest, until a three-pointer by Kaiden Graves in the final minute gave Cordova their first lead. Wolverine pressure caused numerous turnovers in the late going, holding Wrangell to only one basket in the fourth quarter.

Graves finished with 13 points, Gatton added 10.

Cordova was matched up with Haines, also undefeated in the first three days, in the championship game. CHS utilized balanced scoring from five players to win, 54-46. Billy Bailey and Kaiden Graves led the attack with 13 and 10 points respectively.

The Rally the Regions also featured an unusual All-Tournament team format. Cordova’s Christian Adams was named the Most Valuable Teammate. Kaiden Graves of Cordova and Taylor Harvey of Haines received the Total Effort awards. Mark Davis of Haines was selected as Outstanding Servant Leader. The Best Attitude Award went to Riley Blatchley of Wrangell; and Keegan Estes of Cordova received the Student Athlete Award.

Native Alaskan cultural exchanges are a big part of the tournament. This year they included crafting Yup’ik-style drums, learning a song and performing together on the last night of the tournament, and a potlatch, plus all the teams were treated to evening college basketball games featuring the UAA squads at the Alaska Airlines Center on Thursday, Jan. 3.

This was Cordova’s third consecutive appearance in the tournament, and the first championship for the Wolverines.

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Dick Shellhorn is a lifelong Cordovan. He has been writing sports stories for the Cordova Times for over 50 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 2020, and third place in 2017 and 2019. He also received second place for Best Editorial Commentary in 2019. Shellhorn has written two books about Alaska adventures: Time and Tide and Balls and Stripes. Reach him at