Cordova Tipoff opens home basketball season

The 38th Annual Cordova Tipoff will launch this year’s home basketball schedule, with teams from Unalaska, Wasilla and Scammon Bay joining the Wolverines for three days of round robin hoops action.

Started in 1982 by the Cordova Elks Lodge to bring more teams from all over Alaska here to play at CHS Court, the tournament has been a resounding success.

An incredible fifty-one teams from across the state have come to the Tipoff, along with the only out-of-state participant, Melba, Idaho, back in 2002.

This year that number will bump the total up to 53, as 2A Scammon Bay will appear for the first time ever. Located on the Bering Sea, 146 miles northwest of Bethel, the Blackbirds have a solid basketball tradition, and have played Cordova tough in recent meetings in Anchorage.

Last year, the Scammon Bay girls came in 4th at 2A State, knocking off Cordova 47-36 in the second round. The Cordova boys topped Scammon Bay 67-45 in the opening round of last year’s Rally the Regions tournament.

Unalaska will also be another challenging opponent. The Unalaska girls won this year’s Rally the Regions tournament, defeating Unalakleet 51-43 in overtime.

It took overtime for the Cordova boys to edge Unalaska 55-48 in that same tournament, in a game in which neither team led by more than one point at the end of each of the first four quarters.

Rounding out the field will be the Wasilla JV’s, the younger understudies in a big program that has consistently produced top 4A teams. In 2018 the Wasilla boys won State 4A, with the girls coming in second; the year before that, the Wasilla girls won it all, and the boys came in second.

Tournament action begins on Thursday, Jan.16, with Wasilla paired against Scammon Bay in the girls game at 3 p.m., followed by the boys contest at 4:30 p.m. The Cordova girls face Unalaska at 6 p.m., followed by the Cordova boys versus Unalaska at 8:15 p.m.

Friday, Scammon Bay will play Unalaska in the 3 pm boys matchup, followed by the same girls pairing at 4:30 p.m. The Cordova boys will meet Wasilla at 6 p.m., and the Lady Wolverines will close out the day versus Wasilla at 8:15 p.m.

Saturday’s final round will pair Wasilla and Unalaska at 2 p.m. in girls’ action, and 3:30 p.m. in boys play. The Cordova girls will meet Scammon Bay at 5 p.m., and the Cordova boys will face Scammon Bay at 7:15 p.m.

Awards ceremonies will follow the completion of that last game.

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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 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.