For longtime Kodiak basketball coach David Anderson, a Joe Floyd Christmas Tournament title has been his white whale.
He’s been close to capturing a title, but his teams have never sealed the deal.
It’s the same storyline every tournament for Anderson. Will this be the year he finally wins the elusive Floyd?
“Let’s hope this is the year. It’s been 12 years and some before that,” said Anderson, a graduate of Kodiak High. “It’s a tough one to get. We don’t bring down the weak teams.”
Anderson’s troops are riding high after the program’s first Service Tip-Off Tournament title. The team is 3-0 entering Monday’s Floyd opener against Soldotna. The 8 p.m. game will also count in the Northern Lights Conference standings.
Kodiak has won 17 Floyd titles, the last in 2009.
Because of the pandemic, Monday’s game will be Kodiak’s first at home since Feb. 29, 2020.
“Fans should expect to see good basketball,” senior guard Frankie Marcelo said. “We are going to put on a show for them.”
This is the 54th edition of the Joe Floyd Tournament, making it the state’s longest running high school basketball tournament. It is rich with history.
“I like that the community gets involved with it big time,” Anderson said. “People love it. With all these other teams in town, they get that festive feeling.”
Marcelo played in the tournament for the first time as a sophomore. He had never performed in front of a crowd that size before.
“It was really great. I was excited because it felt like the who town was in there (the gym),” Marcelo said. “They gave us a lot of energy.”
There will be five teams in this year’s edition: Kodiak, Bethel, Soldotna, Nikiski and North Pole. The traditional round-robin format has been ditched in favor of a double-elimination bracket. That’s 18 boys and girls games over three days for a hungry fan base to eat up.
North Pole and Nikiski open the boys tournament at 11 a.m., with the winner advancing to play Bethel at 4 p.m.
“It’s kind of neat. We didn’t want to drop any teams from the tournament,” said Anderson on the new format. “I think it is fine as long we get our first two wins and go into that championship game.”
The championship game is slated for 8 p.m. Wednesday. At the very least, Kodiak will play four games in four days as the Bears battle the Stars in another NLC game on Thursday.
Since last year’s tournament was canceled, this will be the first one played since the death of Joe Floyd. Floyd created the tournament in 1967.
“We sure would like to win it for him and his family,” Anderson said.
Kodiak begins defense of its 2019 Floyd title at 6 p.m. Monday against Soldotna. Like the boys, the game will count in the NLC standings. The two school meet again Thursday.
North Pole and Nikiski tip the tournament off at 9 a.m., with the winner facing Bethel at 2 p.m.
Taylor Masterson and Monica Claridge, Kodiak’s co-head coaches, will be off-island during the Floyd. Longtime assistant Kathryn Symmes will lead the team.
Masterson is bummed he will be missing the island’s biggest sporting event.
“I’ve heard it (Joe Floyd) is pretty awesome,” Masterson said. “Being from Barrow, any time you have a big home event, you always look forward to it. I will not be missing another one.”
Kodiak played three competitive games at the Lumen Christi Tournament, returning home with a 1-2 record. The Bears topped Birchwood Christian on the final day.
Masteron hopes his girls continue to increase their hoops’ IQ during The Floyd.
“We are not going against a little bit bigger schools — we got to be competitive with them as well,” the coach said.
Kodiak’s girls have won nine Floyd crowns.