NLC runner-up Bears clinch 4A state berth

Kodiak junior center Hannah Wandersee looks to put shoot during the Northern Lights Conference championship game at Soldotna High School Saturday. (Robert deBerry/Frontiersman photo) . Visit Frontiersman.com for Northern Lights Conference Tournament photos.

On Sunday night, Alaska School Activities Association announced on a live webcast that Kodiak’s first-round opponent at the 4A girls state basketball tournament would be Soldotna.

By Monday afternoon, that had changed.

Kodiak will now be facing Lathrop in the first game of the state tournament at 8 a.m. Thursday, March 21 at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, while Soldotna was moved out of the eight-team tournament.

Soldotna, the Northern Lights Conference fourth-place team, was originally awarded the final at-large bid to state based on ASAA’s winning percentage index — a mathematical formula that ranks 4A teams based on wins and losses against 4A competition.

In the final WPI rankings, released Sunday, Soldotna held a .004 advantage over Lathrop for the final at-large bid.

It was brought to ASAA’s attention on Monday that a couple of Southeast Conference Championship games over the weekend were not added to the WPI, ASAA state championship director Isaiah Vreeman said.

When those games were added, Lathrop was .0005 percentage points ahead of Soldotna for the final at-large bid.

“In the end we got it right,” Vreeman said. “The WPI didn’t fail — it is good to get it right.”

Two teams that did not automatically qualify for state receive bids based on the WPI rankings. Colony, the NLC’s No. 3 team, was the first at-large selection.

Lathrop lost to West Valley 53-45 in the Mid-Alaska Conference Championship game on Saturday. The Malemutes are the sixth seed at state, while Kodiak is seeded third after posting a 20-6 record and finishing second in the NLC.

Kodiak beat Lathrop 47-42 at the Joe T. Classic in Fairbanks in January. Lathrop is led by freshman center Ruthy Hebard, who scored 14 against Kodiak in their previous meeting.

The Kodiak/Lathrop winner advances to a semifinal game against the winner of the Dimond/West Valley matchup. Dimond, the No. 2 seed, won the Cook Inlet Conference, and owns two wins over Kodiak.

Kodiak earned its first state berth since 2010 by beating Colony in an NLC semifinal game. The Bears went on to lose to undefeated Wasilla in the championship game.

Two-time defending state champion Wasilla (27-0) opens against Southeast Conference Champion Juneau-Douglas, while No. 4 Colony, opens against CIC runner-up West Anchorage.

On the boys side, Northern Lights Conference champion Palmer begins play against CIC runner-up East Anchorage.

NLC runner-up Colony opens against Southeast Champion Thunder Mountain, which is making its first state appearance.

West Anchorage and Dimond, both from the CIC, earned the two at-large bids.

Contact Mirror writer Derek Clarkston at sports@kodiakdailymirror.com.

State games

Boys

Thursday, March 21

4A

11:30 a.m. — No. 2 Colony vs. No. 7 Thunder Mt.

1:15 p.m. — No. 4 Lathrop vs. No. 5 West Anchorage

7 p.m. — No. 3 East Anchorage vs. No. 6 Palmer

8:45 p.m. — No. 1 Service vs. No. 8 Dimond

3A

Thursday, March 21

8 a.m. — Bethel vs. Seward

9:45 a.m. — Monroe Catholic vs. Grace Christian

3:30 p.m. — Mt. Edgecumbe vs. Valdez

5:15 p.m. — ACS vs. Nome

2A

Monday, March 18

11:30 a.m. — Dillingham vs. Craig

1:15 p.m. — Hooper Bay vs. Su Valley

7 p.m. — Glennallen vs. Bristol Bay

8:45 p.m. — Metlakatla vs. Unalakleet

1A

Saturday, March 16

At West Anchorage

8 a.m. — King Cove vs. Stebbins

9:45 a.m. — Toksook Bay vs. Minto

3:30 p.m. — Noatak vs. Birchwood Christian

5:15 p.m. — Aniak vs. Noorvik

At South Anchorage

8:45 a.m. — Lumen Christi vs. Yakutat

11:30 a.m. — Golovin vs. New Stuyahok

1:15 p.m. — Klawock vs. Russian Mission

7 p.m. — Scammon Bay vs. Alak

Girls

4A

Thursday, March 21

At Sullivan Arena

8 a.m. — No. 3 Kodiak vs. No. 6 Lathrop

9:45 a.m. — No. 4 Colony vs. No. 5 West Anchorage

3:30 p.m. — No. 2 Dimond vs. No. 7 West Valley

5:15 p.m. — No. 1 Wasilla vs. No. 8 Juneau-Douglas

3A

Thursday, March 21

At Sullivan Arena

11:30 a.m. — Barrow vs. Seward

1:15 p.m. — Hutchison vs. Houston

7 p.m. — ACS vs. Nome

8:45 p.m. — Sitka vs. Valdez

2A

Monday, March 18

At Sullivan Arena

8 a.m. — Tikigaq vs. Nenana

9:45 a.m. — Dillingham vs. Metlakatla

3:30 p.m. — Craig vs. Unalakleet

5:15 p.m. — Glennallen vs. Bristol Bay

1A

Saturday, March 16

At West Anchorage

11:30 a.m. — Shishmaref vs. Koligenak

1:15 p.m. — Nikolaevsk vs. Yakutat

7 p.m. — Aniak vs. Noorvik

8:45 p.m. — Buckland vs. Cook Inlet

At South Anchorage

8 a.m. — Chefornak vs. Huslia

9:45 a.m. — Newhalen vs. Golovin

3:30 p.m. — Klawock vs. Mountain Village

5:15 p.m. — Scammon Bay vs. Alak

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