Is this the Year of the Wolverine?

Seasoned squad opens at Rally the Regions tournament in Anchorage

Varsity team, from left, Chrisbelle Pena, Kaleb Carrilo, Xavier Russin, Arthur Adams, Rus Bradford, JT Thorne, Christian Adams, Keegan Estes, Quin Muma, Kaiden Graves and Trevor Dundas. Photo courtesy of Cordova High School

A deep CHS boys basketball squad will open the 2019-20 season at the Rally the Regions tournament in Anchorage on Jan. 2-5.

Wolverine fans have high hopes for this year’s CHS team, seeking Cordova’s first state boys title under the ASAA classification system adopted back in 1983.

“We are returning a very experienced squad with four seniors, three juniors and one sophomore, all with quality playing time last year and at camp this summer,” said CHS Coach Bert Adams, now in his third year at the helm. “We also have three freshman, one who can contribute immediately and two others that have improved in skill and will be solid by March.”

Leading the Wolverines will be a pair of 2A All-Staters, Christian Adams (first team), and Kaiden Graves, (third team.)

“Both had solid summer camps, with coaches across the state saying they will be in the running for Player of the Year, and have already received college inquiries,” Adams said.

Adams described goals and strengths of others on his squad.

“Keegan Estes and Rus Bradford are two players that need to step it up and are quite capable; Trevor Dundas has improved his skill level and become more of a scoring threat; Chrisbelle Pena will need to step it up as back-up point guard; and Quin Muma will work at the 3 or 4 position to stretch the floor. Arthur Adams is a solid scorer and maybe our first real post player, plus can shoot from outside; and I am excited about JT Thorne and Xavier Russin as they have come a long way in the last couple months.”

Cordova finished second in conference play last year, and Adams sees solid competition again this year.  “Glennallen will always be tough, as well as Su Valley and Nenana.”

Junior varsity, from left, Cole Hanson, Jacob Ranney, Alex Russin, Arthur Adams. JT Thorne, Wyatt Sorenson, Logan Namitz and Scott Aiken. Photo courtesy of Cordova High School
Junior varsity, from left, Cole Hanson, Jacob Ranney, Alex Russin, Arthur Adams. JT Thorne, Wyatt Sorenson, Logan Namitz and Scott Aiken. Photo courtesy of Cordova High School

The CHS boys advanced to State last year, topping Haines and Unalakleet after falling to Pt. Hope (Tikigaq) in the opening round. Pt. Hope went on to win the State title.

This year the Wolverines will get a chance to face the perennial Northwest 2A power on their home court, traveling to Pt. Hope for the Rex Rock Invitational.

Adams is looking forward to the competition.  “It’s always a great place to play, and there will be no easy games, with Barrow and Metlakatla also there.”

Cordova will also once again travel to the Valdez tournament.  “It will be a good challenge to see how we stack up against the 3A/4a schools”, said Adams.

Adams is optimistic about the season.  “We have a real good team this year, and have grown to be mentally tough, learning from last year’s State first round loss. This summer we played in the UAA team camp and entered the 4A division, and went 4-2 playing top 4A schools East, Wasilla, and Thunder Mountain.”

But Adams is taking it one step at a time.  “Our focus is mainly on ourselves and developing as a team throughout the season, learning how roles fit the system.  If we can do this we can beat any team in 2A.  If we don’t then any team can beat us.”

Locals will get their first glimpse of the Wolverines on Jan. 16-18, with Unalaska, Scammon Bay, and Wasillla JV’s here for the Cordova Tip-Off Tournament.

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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 shorn@gci.net.