Basketball: 43rd Annual Elk’s Tournament
Boys Varsity Basketball
43rd Annual Elks Tournament [Boys Varsity]
Friday, February 13th: Valdez 58, Cordova 56
Courtesy of VHS Coaches – Valdez played host to a number of teams from around the state over Valentine’s weekend for the 43rd installment of the Valdez Elks Tournament. This year’s field included the Lathrop Malemutes, Mt. Edgecumbe Braves, Cordova Wolverines, Seward Seahawks, Eielson Ravens, Kotzebue Huskies, and the Varsity and Junior Varsity squads from the hometown Buccaneers.
In a tournament that features 24 games played over 3 days, there are typically games that are blowouts, games that are competitive, and games that are more memorable than others. The Friday night game between the Valdez Buccaneers and Cordova Wolverines can be categorized as an instant classic, and one of the more exciting Elks Tournament games in recent memory.
Not only did the matchup pit the historical Prince William Sound rivals up against one another, the game also featured great individual performances, timely plays, momentum swings, and a comeback that whipped the hometown crowd into a frenzy.
The Bucs got the scoring started early with a quick basket from Douglas Cummins, but Cordova responded quickly with a basket of their own to set the stage for a first quarter that saw multiple lead changes and exchanged baskets throughout. The Wolverines took the lead at 17-14 with approximately :52 seconds left in the first quarter and entered halftime with a 31-24 advantage.
The half-time statistical report showed what anybody in the crowd could testify to: Cordova’s number 3 (K. Graves) was carrying their team. He entered halftime with 23 points. Conversely, Freeman led the Bucs with 8 at the intermission.
The third quarter featured much of the traded baskets prevalent in the first half. Neither team was able to make a substantial run and sustain the lead. Midway through the third quarter, Cordova held a 9 point advantage – only to see Valdez rally to close the gap to 39-43 entering the final stanza.
The Bucs began the fourth quarter with three consecutive possessions that ended in a turnover, ultimately finding themselves down 56-48 with 3 minutes remaining in the game. A Cummins basket, Freeman 3-pointer, and Chavez 3-pointer knotted the game up with 2:00 remaining.
Key defensive stops led to a Freeman drive to the basket with under 5 seconds to play, resulting in a foul and 1-and-1 free throw opportunity with 3.5 seconds remaining. Two clutch made free throws completed the comeback, as Cordova’s last-gasp 3 pointer at the buzzer bounced off the back of the rim.
Cordova’s Graves finished the game with 26 points (only 3 after the half), while the Buccaneers were led offensively by Jalen Freeman (27 points, 19 in the second half) and Jimmy Chavez (12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from long range). Jalen Freeman and Bryce Tucker led the team with 7 rebounds apiece.
Saturday, February 14th: Valdez 39, Lathrop 51
The final game of the tournament featured the hometown Bucs and the Lathrop Malemutes in the championship game. The Bucs sprinted out to an early 13-3 lead in the first quarter and then weathered a Malemute comeback to establish a 15-10 lead after one quarter. The Buc defense held solid in the second quarter, forcing Lathrop to shoot from the perimeter and rebound the ball to limit the second chance points. Valdez entered halftime with a 23-20 lead.
In the third quarter the Buc defense faltered and allowed things that are backbreaking: straight line drives to the basket, and baseline penetration. Defensive breakdowns, coupled with a stagnant offense, enabled the Malemute offense to get easy baskets or score from the free- throw line and take control of the game, entering the fourth with 37-31 lead.
An early basket in the fourth quarter closed the gap to a 4-point deficit, but the Bucs would get no closer than that the rest of the game. The Malemutes continued to rebound well and shoot efficiently from the charity stripe as they secured a 51-39 victory.
The Buccaneers were led offensively by Jalen Freeman (18 points) and Storm Rohrer (9).
Jimmy Chavez was named to the All Tournament Team and Jalen Freeman, who averaged 22.5 points per game on 49% shooting, was selected by opposing coaches as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
In the final regular season road trip for the Buccaneers, they next travel to Eielson Air Force Base to take on the Eielson Ravens in a crucial Aurora Conference matchup.
Varsity Girls Basketball
43rd Annual Elks Tournament Varsity Girls
Courtesy of VHS Coaches – This past weekend was a fun opportunity to play in front of large, rowdy, home crowds at the yearly Elks Tournament.
To start off the tournament, the Buccaneers played Kotzebue. The Huskies were red-hot all night, shooting 62% from the field, and making 12 of 23 three pointers. A combination of nerves and impatience combined for the Buccaneers to compile one of their lowest shooting percentages of the year, only finding the bottom of the net 26% of the time, including only making 12% of buckets beyond the 3-point arc. Ultimately, the score was a lopsided affair with Kotzebue winning at a score of 66-33.
Due to Unalaska being unable to attend, the Friday night game was eliminated with the Varsity and JV squad splitting into two teams for an intrasquad scrimmage.
In Saturday’s game against the Seward Seahawks, the Buccaneers responded with a terrific effort to begin the game, quickly jumping to a 16-4 lead, holding the Seahawks to 6 points
for the half and 10 points for the first three quarters. Shooting also improved to 47% for the game. The Buccaneers won the game by a score of 51-24.
For the tournament, the girls had the highest free throw shooting percentage of all teams, and won an award for that. Also, Reese King was selected for the 2020 Elks All-Tournament team.
Crowd Antics at Elks, Photo courtesy of Joe Prax
JV Boys Basketball
43rd Annual Elks Basketball Tournament-JV Boys
Courtesy of VHS Coaches – The Junior Varsity Buccaneers filled in for Unalaska this weekend during the 43’d annual Elks Tournament. Starting the tournament with an honorable sacrifice into the consolation bracket, Valdez JV played their best game of the season against the Kotzebue Varsity team. Led by freshmen Payton Gage, Hunter Matthews and Dillon Fowler, the Bucs held the lead through three quarters of high intensity basketball. Unfortunately, the experience and composure of Kotzebue’s Varsity eventually prevailed as Valdez ended up losing the game in the closing minutes. The JV Bucs faced off against Eielson’s Varsity team in the final game of the consolation bracket and played well again in another losing effort. The JV Bucs will continue to improve and look forward to another chance to play Eielson’s JV this weekend as they travel to Fairbanks.
JV Girls Basketball
43rd Annual Elks JV Girls
Courtesy of VHS Coaches – The Valdez JV girls had a great opportunity to play in the Valdez Elks Tournament. We faced Cordova first, we came out strong and took the lead and lost it by 3 points in last few minutes of the fourth quarter. We then meet our varsity girls on Friday and decided to mix everyone up, and have some fun. Saturday’s morning, we played Eielson girls. It was a great game, the girls played hard and we ended the first half only being down 2 points, we hung in there but ultimately Eielson took the win. It was a great weekend of basketball!