A Hooper Bay high school basketball player helped lead Team Alaska to a national victory in the Native American Basketball Invitational tournament. The tournament was held in Phoenix, Arizona at the end of July at the U.S. Airways Center. Top 1 and 2-A players from all over Alaska came together in an all-star team lead by Coach Steve Craft of Akiachak.
One of the players was local athlete, Kacy Green, from Hooper Bay. He says the center they played in was enormous.
“It felt like we were in an NBA game or something like that, kind of like State this year,” Green says.
He says crowds gathered in the hundreds. With Sixty-four teams competing, Team Alaska had to make its way through an extended pool. It included four teams in a silver bracket trying to get into the gold bracket for the championship game.
Team Alaska did just that, finishing with a strong 13-point lead over Arizona’s Warriors team.
At the end of the fourth quarter, Alaska’s Stu Towarak from Unalakleet made a slam dunk bringing their lead to 15 points, although he was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim. The other team got two free throws, but with just two seconds to play, Green says he didn’t mind.
“I got the rebound and I seen Stu Towarak down at the other end,” Green says. “So, there were two people open T.J. Hamilton too so I just passed it to T.J. and I guess T.J. hit it off the glass and Stu just slammed it in Alley-oop off the glass. He got a technical for hanging on the rim (laughs) but that’s okay.”
Team Alaska had a practice run prior to the tournament a week before the invitational at the Danny Miles camp in Oregon. Coach Craft says that it was key for the team to play with each other, as well as learn from Miles, who coached the Oregon Tech to the 2012 NAIA national championship. Miles is considered to be the second top coach in the history of men’s college basketball, with a record of 971 wins in a 43 year coaching career.
Team Alaska got a chance to play the college basketball team which Green says helped the young guys come together.