The Hydaburg Warriors once were a power at the Class 1A level, winning three boys state titles and reaching the championship game six times in nine years during the mid 1980s and early 1990s.
Now they're trying to win their first Class 2A state championship.
Hydaburg moved a step closer to the title on Friday night, beating the Bristol Bay Angels, 73-58, to advance to tonight's 9:15 p.m. championship game at Anchorage's Service High School.
The top-ranked Warriors will play the defending state champion and No. 2 Cook Inlet Academy Eagles of Soldotna, who beat the Point Hope-Tikigaq Harpooners, 46-41, in Friday night's other semifinal game. In last year's state tournament, Cook Inlet edged Hydaburg, 46-43, in the first round en route to its title.
Hydaburg won Class 1A championships in 1986, 1989 and 1992, but moved up to Class 2A the next year and hasn't been to a state title game since. The Warriors (24-1) have only lost one game this year - an 87-77 defeat to the Juneau-Douglas junior varsity on Jan. 9 at Skagway's Don Hather Memorial Tournament. Since then Hydaburg has run the table, even beating Class 4A Ketchikan 73-70 in February to claim the title in Ketchikan's First City Prep Shootout.
In Friday's semifinal game, 6-foot-2 senior forward George Peratrovich posted a double-double with 27 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Warriors. Junior point guard Vinny Edenshaw scored 24 points, dished out three assists and made five steals, while senior forward Darren Edenshaw scored 19 points for Hydaburg.
Hydaburg trailed 29-21 at halftime, but turned up its defensive intensity in the second half as the Warriors went on a 27-6 run in the third quarter to put the game away.
Corey Lind scored 22 points to lead the Angels (14-9), who won the title in Yakutat's Mount St. Elias Classic this past January.
In other boys action on Friday, the No. 3 Skagway Panthers knocked off the Tok Wolverines, 67-50, in a consolation semifinal. Skagway will play in today's 9:35 a.m. fourth-sixth place game against the Unalakleet-Degnan Wolfpack.
Jarret Brown scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Skagway (21-7).
In girls action on Friday, the three-time defending Class 2A state champion Ninilchik Wolverines and the Bristol Bay Angels won spots in tonight's 7:30 p.m. girls championship game.
In consolation bracket games Friday, the No. 2 Kake Thunderbirds knocked off the Tok Wolverines 49-39 and the Matanuska Christian School Eagles needed overtime to beat the Angoon Eagles 59-50. Kake and Matanuska Christian will play at 8 a.m. today in the fourth-sixth place game.
Danielle Knudsen scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead Kake (19-3) to its victory.
Aimee Doerr posted a double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead Matanuska Christian over Angoon. Angoon was led by Carmen Estrada's 21 points and seven rebounds, while Rosanna Williams had 11 points.