The Cordova boys advanced to the state 2A tournament with a dramatic win over Tok in the final game of the Interior Conference Playoffs at Glennallen.
Playing at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 11, in the battle for second place and a berth at state, Cordova was up against the same Tok team it handled easily 65-42 on Thursday, March 9. But this time it took the final frantic seconds to determine who would advance to “March Madness Alaska Style” in Anchorage this weekend.
Cordova led 24-16 at half time, but Tok, sparked by three-point shooting, poured in 22 points in the third quarter to cut Tok’s deficit to 41-38. The fourth quarter was a seesaw battle with the lead changing hands five times in five minutes after Tok first pulled ahead 47-45 with 5:25 left on the clock.
The ticket to state was on the line with Tok leading 53-52 with 29 seconds left. Cordova cashed in with a field goal at the 10 second mark. Cordova got a steal on the inbounds play and Tok fouled to stop the clock. Jaykob Thorne hit a pair of free throws with seven seconds left to give CHS a dramatic 56-53 win.
Four Wolverines were in double digits in scoring: Jaykob Thorne and Xavier Russin had 12 points, John Itliong had 11, and Wyatt Sorenson had 10.
“Our guys hit a little shooting slump this weekend, but stepped up in many other ways to get us to state,” said CHS Coach Jake Borst. “Our team defense is becoming really tough.”
“I was really proud of their resiliency and ability to stay composed in close games,” added Borst.
Cordova opened the tournament with a 64-51 win over Effie Kokrine on March 9, followed by a 65-42 win over Tok on the same day.
But the Wolverines were no match for top-ranked defending state 2A champions Ninilchik in the championship game on Friday, March 10. Ninilchik used its speed, teamwork, and rebounding to race to a 60-31 victory.
Wolverines Wyatt Sorenson, John Itliong, and Jaykob Thorne were named to the All-Conference team, with Sorenson, Sam Heidbrink, and Dexter Gasmen named to the All-Academic team.
Cordova will join seven other 2A teams from all over Alaska for the state 2A tournament at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage from Thursday to Saturday.