43 years without a state championship.
When Coach Clarence Smith took the position of the Bartlett High girl's basketball team, he inherited decades of a state championship drought. He made one promise: If Bartlett wasn't a state contender in his fourth year, then he didn't need to keep the job.
That promise was delivered, along with a state championship in 2021. Coach Smith explained how he implemented the plan to turn a team and a culture around.
Alexia Novelli is a former player for the University of Alaska Anchorage. Originally from Anchorage, she played her first game of basketball in 8th grade at Hanshew Junior High. Her family moved to the Valley right before high school began and Alexia began her freshman year on the C Team at Colony High School. Developing into a varsity player, she left Alaska after graduation to continue her basketball career at SFCC, a junior college in Spokane. She had two double-doubles for the season; 22 points and 10 rebounds in a victory over Mt. Hood, and 18 points with 14 rebounds in a win over Columbia Basin. Alexia ended the season averaging double-digit points per game, led the starting lineup in shooting percentage, finished 2nd in rebounds and blocks, and earned a place as one of the team’s scholar-athletes.
Alexia decided coming home to play for UAA was her best option to develop as a player and to represent her home state. After two years, she joined the Wasilla High School coaching staff and in 2023 was named the new head basketball coach of Mountain City Christian Academy (formerly ACS). She hopes to inspire other Alaskan athletes to pursue their aspirations of competing in athletics beyond high school.