ANCHORAGE - The Yakutat High School boys basketball team advanced to its first state final since 1997 with a 63-52 win over Unalakleet on Wednesday at Sullivan Arena.
The Eagles will play Bristol Bay at 8:45 p.m. tonight for the Class 2A state title.
One night removed from beating Cook Inlet Academy at the buzzer, Yakutat played with fire and intensity against the Wolf Pack.
"I think we wanted to come out with more energy this game," Yakutat's Kyle Dierick said. "We wanted it a lot more."
Yakutat's run-and-gun style led to a big first-half lead as the Southeast Conference runners-up seized a 33-25 advantage.
Dierick scored 16 of his game-high 31 points before halftime.
While Dierick led the team in scoring, the entire roster contributed to the victory.
Sam Ferguson scored eight points, Doug Ross had seven points and five rebounds, and Jack Klushkan added six points and four offensive rebounds.
Also for Yakutat, Jay Sin and Alin Vale added three points each and Tracy Jackson posted five points.
"I think all of us were comfortable tonight," Yakutat coach Bert Adams Jr. said. "We got the jitters out last night and all day we just felt relaxed and comfortable."
While Yakutat never trailed in the contest, the Wolf Pack tried to creep back in the second half.
Unalakleet cut Yakutat's lead to 35-34 early in the second half but Yakutat responded with a 13-4 run to close out the quarter.
CLASS 2A BOYS Bristol Bay 58, Kake 44
Bristol Bay's hot shooting led to a state semifinal victory over Kake, the Southeast Conference champs, Wednesday at the Sullivan Arena.
The Thunderbirds battled valiantly, but the Angels' outside shooting proved too much. Bristol Bay connected on five of their six 3-pointers in the first half.
"We just came up a little short tonight," Thunderbirds coach Arthur Johnson said. "They just hit so many outside shots. Some of them were from way out. They were unbelievable."
The Angels came out smoking, knocking down their first five shots and forcing Kake to use a timeout just 1:13 into the game down 11-0.
Despite facing long odds, the Thunderbirds showed tremendous heart in trying to fight back.
Derek Knudsen, the team's emotional leader, kept Kake close as Bristol Bay held a 29-17 halftime advantage. The Angels made five of their six 3-point shots in the first half.
To combat Bristol Bay's shooters, the T-Birds switched from a zone to man-to-man defense in the second half. The team responded by going on a 9-2 run to open the third quarter. Lance Doake's put-back cut Bristol Bay's lead to 31-28 early in the third.
"We started talking and communicating better," Johnson said.
Bristol Bay would not be denied a state championship berth, however.
Every time Kake got close, Angels guards Mason King and Dustin Wilson knocked down big shots. King led all scorers with 24 points and Wilson added 17.
Bristol Bay ended the third quarter on a 12-5 run and led 43-33. Kake whittled the Angels' lead down to six in the fourth but got no closer.
Knudsen led Kake with 19 points and seven rebounds.
Xavier Friday scored 10 points, Doake two, Dean Cavanaugh 2, Trevor Rostad 5 and Shawn Jackson 6 in defeat.
Kake will take on Unalakleet at 12:45 p.m. today in third-place game.
CLASS 3A GIRLS Mount Edgecumbe 46, Eielson 39
Mount Edgecumbe opened the Class 3A girls tournament on Wednesday with a quarterfinal victory over Ben Eielson at Sullivan Arena.
Skeeter Atoruk led the Lady Braves with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Sarah Morris garnered 11 points, 12 rebounds and three steals in the win.
Mount Edgecumbe grabbed 24 offensive rebounds in the game, 13 more than the Ravens.
Victoria Lopez had eight points, three rebounds and a steal, Andrea Thomas contributed four points and four boards while Nicole Akaran and Carlotta Evan scored three points each for the victorious Lady Braves.
Ashley Jelly led Eielson with 16 points.
Mount Edgecumbe led 22-18 at halftime. The Lady Braves then limited Eielson to just four points in the third quarter to go up 30-22.
Mount Edgecumbe faces Nikiski in the semifinals at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
CLASS 3A BOYS Petersburg 61, Eielson 56
Petersburg, the Southeast Conference champions, raced to a 33-28 halftime lead and held on for a quarterfinal victory at the Sullivan Arena.
The Vikings extended their lead to 45-36 in the third quarter before sealing the victory.
Trevor McCay led Petersburg with 18 points, including four 3-pointers. David Mazzella had 13 points and three assists, Cameron Severson contributed 10 points and five rebounds while Matthew Short had nine points and 11 boards.
Michael Serafini and Aaron Phillips scored four points each in the win. Phillips also had seven rebounds.
Stuart Meeks rounded out Petersburg's scoring with three points.
Charlie Hill and Travis Pew led the Ravens with 12 points each.
With the win, Petersburg will face Heritage Christian at 6:50 p.m. Friday.
CLASS 2A GIRLS Hoonah 49, Tri-Valley 41
Hoonah qualified for the fourth-place game with a victory over Tri-Valley at Service High School.
The Braves outscored the Viking Warriors 31-22 in the final 16 minutes.
Amber Lampe and Jessica Skaflestad had 18 points and four steals each for Hoonah.
Also for the Braves, Brooke Lampe scored seven points, Kari Ames had four points and Katrina White hit a free throw.
Jessie Dybdahl added two steals in the win.
Hoonah will take on Galena today at 8 a.m. at Service.
Galena 39, Yakutat 24
Yakutat's season came to an end Wednesday with a loss to Galena.
Heidi Esbenshade led the Southeast Conference champs with seven points and eight steals.
Ashton Schmidt scored five points, Rose Fraker had three points while Hannah Esbenshade, Rose Potter, Sylvia Schumacher and Kirsten Slate added two points apiece.
Sharnel Vale added a free throw for the Eagles.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at email@example.com.