For the first time since 1994, the Kipnuk Falcons are heading to the State Championship Basketball Tournament. The Kipnuk Boys won the Lower Kuskokwim School District Basketball tournament this weekend against the Nunapitchuk Wolves in a final score of 51 to 23. Student Correspondent Reann Lincoln of Tununak was there and has this story.
Kipnuk scored the first two baskets, and the team held the lead through the rest of the game.
As the first quarter began, the Nunapitchuk crowd shouted “Defense!” The gym got louder as the crowd cheered for their favorite team, yelling “Wolves!” and “Falcons!” The Wolves did their best to keep their defense tight and keep the Falcons out by driving in, but the Falcons kept gaining. The first quarter ended with the Falcons ahead, 11 to 6.
The Falcons scored the first basket in the beginning of the second quarter. Then the ball went to Nunapitchuk. The Wolves kept the ball moving around and tried to get open to shoot, but the Falcons kept scoring, and the Wolves kept working to keep the Falcons away from the basket. The second quarter ended with Falcons 21 and Wolves 16, each team gaining 10 points throughout the quarter.
The third quarter began, and Kipnuk stole the ball. Soon they scored. The Wolves didn’t score the entire quarter, missing and missing their shots. The Falcons pulled farther ahead, ending the third quarter 38 to 16.
In the fourth quarter, as in all the others, Kipnuk scored the first basket. The crowd got really happy when new players joined the game, the audience clapping and cheering. Kipnuk fouled, and even with loud distractions from the crowd, the Nunapitchuk player scored his free-throw shot. The audience jumped up and down, happy. The Falcons also scored and won the championship game 51 to 23.
Kipnuk senior Jaden Anaver felt overwhelmed by the victory.
“Because of all the hard work we’ve been through, what we’ve been through as a team,” he said.
Anaver’s grandfather snowmachined six hours from Kipnuk to watch him play. That support gave him confidence.
“I felt very nervous, but I knew I had my teammates with me," Anaver said. "I knew I had the fans with me from home. So they were there for me.”
Nunapitchuk Senior Zachariah Brink is proud of his team’s second place finish.
“It was like a dream come true, getting into a championship game," Brink said. "My team did great."