Friday, March 17th
In their first season at the 2A level, the Ninilchik Wolverines came into the state tournament with a perfect 23-0 record. Coming off a 73-34 victory over Hooper Bay in the quarterfinals, Ninilchik faced the Unalakleet Wolfpack in the semifinals tonight.
Unalakleet, a regular contender in the postseason, set the tone early. Alukka Ivanoff stole the ball seconds into the game, and Cody Ivanoff scored 5 of the 7 points in a two-minute 7-0 Wolfpack run. Ninilchik coach Nick Finley called a timeout to collect his squad. “I just wanted them to settle down. None of our kids have been on this stage before.” Finley said, “The Wolfpack came out ready to play; they were hot from the get-go. They’re here every year. They’re battling every year. So we call that timeout, settled down, and fought our way back into it.”
A combination of defensive pressure and sharp shooting helped Ninilchik gain momentum, where they caught up with just two minutes left in the first half. Lukah Kaulgin scored 3 three-pointers in the second quarter. His 3rd three-pointer late in the second gave Ninilchik a 25-22 lead that they held for the rest of the game.
Ninilchik finished with a 77-57 victory. Unalakleet’s Cody Ivanoff (26 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals) and Ninilchik’s Landon Colburn (23 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals) were named Players of the Game.
Ninilchik will face Metlakatla for the 2A State Championship at 8:30p.
1A/2A Semi-final results:
Maudrey J Sommer 66, Scammon Bay 38
Nelson Island 84, Lumen Christi 79
Newhalen 61, Shishmaref 39
Klawock 45, Lumen Christi 34
Ninilichik 77, Unalakleet 57
Metlakatla 78, Tikigaq 73 OT
Tikigaq 50, Metlakatla 45
Wrangell 33, Glenallen 25
Michael Novelli is the co-founder of Prospect Athletics and serves as CEO of Innovate, an Anchorage based advertising and business consulting firm.
In 1999 he founded the AFL, Alaska’s first outdoor adult tackle football league, with roles not just as a player and coach, but as the leader of the organization. The AFL attracted past high school stars and athletes alike, with players able to use the AFL as a launching pad for college and semi-professional careers.
In two decades of heading up Innovate, Novelli has had roles with the Alaska Wild football team (Alaska's first professional indoor football team), and ten years with the Alaska Fighting Championship, Alaska's premier mixed martial arts organization.
With his two oldest kids having made the jump into college athletics and coaching, and three more active kids under the age of ten, Novelli is fully immersed as a parent and coach of student-athletes. He understands the opportunities that student athletics bring in youth development.