Junior high girls place 2nd in Valdez tournament

The Cordova Girls Junior High basketball team accepts their second-place trophy on Nov. 9 at the Valdez Junior High Tournament. From left, Faith Hatch, Jheryel Itliong, Yagnnesis Mejia, Ayessa Itliong, Alice Graves, Allison Ritter, Kate Flores, Anika Jensen, Elizabeth Heidbrink, Maggie Herschleb and Coach Heather Richardson. Photo courtesy of Heather Richardson/for The Cordova Times
The Cordova Girls Junior High basketball team accepts their second-place trophy on Nov. 9 at the Valdez Junior High Tournament. From left, Faith Hatch, Jheryel Itliong, Yagnnesis Mejia, Ayessa Itliong, Alice Graves, Allison Ritter, Kate Flores, Anika Jensen, Elizabeth Heidbrink, Maggie Herschleb and Coach Heather Richardson. Photo courtesy of Heather Richardson/for The Cordova Times

Cordova’s junior high girls finished their season with a second-place finish in the B Division of the junior varsity tournament Nov. 7-9 in Valdez.

“Our team was made up of mostly girls who had never played basketball before,” coach Heather Richardson said. “We had just enough time to learn the basic concepts with a pair of home games before entering the tournament. Yet, when we entered the first round of the tournament, they had worked hard on fundamentals and were ready to play.”

On Nov. 7, in a game that was close throughout, Cordova topped Delta by four points.

“We chose to play man to man with a full court press,” Richardson said. “This tired us out, but we unanimously agreed that the pressure would force our opponents to make poor decisions regarding passes and keep good spacing on the floor.”

Cordova’s next battle was against Monroe, a private school from Fairbanks.

The young Wolverine squad lost. Now in the loser’s bracket, Cordova needed a win to make it to the championship round.

Their opponent was once again Delta. 

“The girls spent several hours watching the other games and breaking down their plays to gain insight in how to become better,” Richardson said. “They stepped on the court, and won again, this time by 20.”

So, on Nov. 9, they once again faced Monroe, this time in the title game. The Rams won, but Richardson was proud of their effort.

“We truly left 100 percent on the floor and shook their hands with our heads held high,” she said.

Alice Graves and Jheryel Itliong earned All-tournament Awards, and Graves also received a Sportsmanship Awards.