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Tournament features bright state stars

Posted: November 24, 2011 - 12:13am

Local hoops junkies looking to get their roundball fix need only to wander as far as the Thunder Mountain High School gymnasium starting Friday.

“This is going to be a lot of quality basketball,” Thunder Mountain High School basketball coach John Blasco said. “There will be a lot of players people will recognize and a few they will know by reputation.”

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday, TMHS is hosting the second annual Black Friday Classic. The adult men’s and women’s basketball tournament will feature an abundance of stars.

Six women’s teams and eight men’s teams will be competing.

On the men’s side, the Craig and Petersburg combination team will feature a quality roster including members of past Craig High School players who won Southeast and state titles, Freddy and Eric Hamilton. Fred is the Panthers’ current coach and Eric played college ball at Concordia University. Joining them is former Petersburg Vikings 6-foot-8 dunking redhead Aaron Severson and his high school teammate Jeb Phillips. Severson played some college in Seattle and Phillips has had semipro tryouts and is one of the most physical and athletic players in the state. Add TMHS coach Ruther Echiverri to the mix and this is a team to watch.

State Farm/First Bank features former Juneau-Douglas High School stars Alex Heumann, Adam Nelson and Larry Cooper. Heumann played at Holy Names University and has a wicked ankle-braking crossover dribble.

The Huna Totem boasts former JDHS cagers Travis Dybdahl, a Southern Oregon University alum and Gold Medal Most Valuable Player. No one likes to guard Dybdahl because he can go inside as well as out. They will also feature former JDHS player James Wilson and former TMHS player Brian Koenig. Koenig likes the lighting in the “Thunder Palace” and will chuck up some rocks.

The Tropics are another local team with high-powered offense. Colin Gozelski, a former JDHS player, is going to get some shots. The question, though, will be how many, as former JDHS hoopsters Alex Fagerstrom, Sean Bavard, Corey Mahar and former TMHS baller Reese Saviers are ready to rock.

“Haines and Gustavus are bringing squads as well,” Blasco noted. “I haven’t seen the complete roster yet but they traditionally bring talented ball players.”

Blasco is playing on Random Collision, a team featuring former JDHS player and TMHS coach Rob Ridgeway and Bubba Larson, another former JDHS player.

The men’s bracket will also feature a compilation team of current Crimson Bears and Falcons players.

For the women, Fairbanks is bringing a team that is full of ex-college players from Bradley, Moorhead State and Minnesota State University and Whitehorse is bringing a high powered running team in for the first time.

Local women’s club Nizich Dental will be in the mix with former JDHS and University of Alaska Anchorage player Tanya Nizich; former JDHS and Colorado State University-Pueblo player Mary Rehfeld; former JDHS players Amalie Fischer and Anya Nelson; and former CSU-Pueblo player Lauren Westerman.

The Rendezvous will bring in their city squad featuring former JDHS and Peninsula College player Danielle Larson and former JDHS player Tasha McCoy.

The women will also have a high school team from the Crimson Bears and another from the Falcons.

Play begins Friday at 2 p.m. with round robin action expected to last until 9. A double-elimination tournament portion begins Saturday at 8 a.m. and semifinal and finals action is scheduled to begin Sunday at 8 a.m.

“This is going to be some high quality basketball,” Blasco said. “It should be pretty entertaining.”

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