Hydaburg boys basketball coach Jim Holien wasn't thrilled with the shot selection when junior George Peratrovich heaved a 3-point attempt with 48 seconds to play in Saturday night's Class 2A boys state championship game against Cook Inlet Academy.
But he's plenty pleased with the result.
Peratrovich's shot went in to give the Warriors a 57-56 lead, and they held on for a 59-56 victory to win the state title at Anchorage's Service High School. It is Hydaburg's fourth state crown, but its first as a Class 2A school. The Warriors won as a Class 1A school in 1986, 1989 and 1992.
"It was a lot of fun," Holien said from Anchorage by phone. "Such a great game, up and down, high emotion."
Hydaburg trailed by five points, 41-36, entering the fourth quarter but chipped away at the lead to tie the game at 41-all with 6 minutes, 51 seconds to play. The defending champion Eagles came back and had rebuilt a four-point lead with 4:26 to go. Sensing anxiety in his team, Holien called a timeout.
"I took a timeout to give the guys some rest," he said. "When we finally sat down, the biggest thing I had to do was settle them down."
After Holien reminded them that there was plenty of time for a rally, the Warriors went out and staged one. A 3-pointer by Peratrovich cut CIA's lead to two, 56-54, with 3:17 to play. The Eagles then tried to slow down the game and use up time, but the stage was set for Peratrovich's heroics.
"They had a two-point lead and had got the ball, and were just holding it and killing the clock," said Holien, in his second year coaching the Warriors. "We stepped up and put pressure on them."
With less than a minute to play, Peratrovich stole the ball from CIA's Kyle Nettles, drove down the court and launched his shot in transition from the left side of the court.
"Their big guy kind of laid off me, so I shot," Peratrovich said.
"It was a really tough shot." Holien said. "Not the shot I would have liked."
But when it went through the net, it changed the complexion of the game.
"I was getting a little edgy to get them to foul (CIA players)," Holien said, "and all of a sudden we had the lead and were in the driver's seat."
Peratrovich said he had no doubt his late 3-pointers were on the mark.
"I definitely knew they were going to go in," he said. "I hit buzzer-beaters (before) in the season, so I was confident. I got in a rhythm."
Hydaburg senior Vinny Edenshaw added two free throws with 15 seconds left for the final tally. Cook Inlet Academy's last-second 3-point attempts failed to fall.
The Warriors outscored the Eagles 23-15 in the final period. Hydaburg finished the season with a 25-1 record, with the Warriors' only loss coming at the hands of the Juneau-Douglas High School junior varsity squad, 87-77, on Jan. 9 at Skagway's Don Hather Memorial Tournament.
Peratrovich led Hydaburg with 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight steals; senior Darren Edenshaw added 18 points; and Vinny Edenshaw chipped in 10 points and four assists for the Warriors.
Jacob Peterson scored 17 points to lead the Eagles (23-6), while Luke Myers added 15 and Nettles netted 14.
"We just did what we had to do," Hydaburg senior Daniel Frank said. "We worked all season for it."
Frank and Peratrovich noted that CIA had beaten the Warriors by three last year in the first round of the state tournament - making this year's three-point win all the more special.
Holien said Saturday's win was a total team effort, but spoke highly of the trio of Peratrovich, Vinny Edenshaw and Darren Edenshaw, who have been pacing the team all season.
"They step up game after game," Holien said.
"I challenged (Darren) in the first half (Saturday); I told him, 'You've got to step up.' And he carried us in the second half. ... George - his energy on the floor is so high. And Vinny, he just runs the show. Without him, our whole offense is off."
In Saturday's other Class 2A title game, the Ninilchik girls won their fourth straight Class title, beating Unalakleet-Degnan 44-26. In the Class 1A state championship games held Saturday at Service High School, the unranked Noorvik-Aqqaluk boys beat New Stuyahok 66-55 and the Mountain Village girls needed overtime to knock off Buckland 53-51.
In Saturday's other state tourney games involving Southeast teams, the Kake girls beat Matanuska Christian, 50-46, in the Class 2A girls fourth-sixth place game, and the Skagway boys fell to Unalakleet-Degnan, 62-58, in the Class 2A boys fourth-sixth place game.
Thunderbirds 50, Eagles 46
The Kake girls reached the 20-win mark for the season by knocking off Matanuska Christian on Saturday in the Class 2A girls state tournament's fourth-sixth place game.
Kake trailed by three at halftime and led by just one point, 39-38, with 5 minutes, 19 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. Then the Thunderbirds went on an 11-0 run to take a 50-38 lead with 3:21 to play.
Matanuska Christian held Kake scoreless the rest of the way - while the Eagles scored eight points to draw within four - but time ran out before they could complete the rally.
Senior Danielle Knudsen scored 22 points to lead Kake (20-3) and close out her distinguished career with the Thunderbirds. Roseann Jackson added 11 points for the Thunderbirds, including three 3-pointers.
Heather Richardson led Matanuska Christian with a game-high 23 points.
Wolfpack 62, Panthers 58
The Skagway boys rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit, but Unalakleet-Degnan stormed back ahead in the fourth quarter for a win in the Class 2A boys state tournament's fourth-sixth place game.
After taking a 34-24 lead at halftime, the Wolfpack were up 37-30 with 5 minutes to play in the third quarter when the Panthers - led by senior Jarret Brown - went on a 14-3 run the rest of the period. Brown scored nine of his game-high 23 points in that run as Skagway took a 44-40 lead into the final quarter.
Unalakleet came back to build a lead of as much as six points in the fourth.
Skagway drew to within two - 60-58 - when Brown hit a basket with 1:34 to go. But the Wolfpack's Dean Towarak hit two clutch free throws with 25 seconds to play that put Unalakleet up by four points, 62-58, and the Wolfpack hung on for the win.
Backing up Brown on offense for Skagway (21-8) were Scott Lesh with 13 points and Kyle Fairbanks with 11. Seniors Brown, Fairbanks and Jerod Moore and freshman Lesh played the entire game for Skagway.
Towarak led Unalakleet with 17 points, while Galen Doty chipped in 13.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.