More than any other, one family name represents Kodiak basketball — the Andersons.
Laurence Anderson was on the 1949 and 1950 Kodiak High School boys basketball teams — better known as the “Kodiak Midgets” — that won Class B division titles at the Fur Rendezvous Tournament in Anchorage, beating Nome both times. They were the first sports championships in the school’s history.
David Anderson, one of Laurence’s sons, followed his father’s steps. He starred as a point guard for Kodiak in the 1970s. His uncanny ability to deliver dimes to open teammates led to a season at the University of Alaska Anchorage before he stepped away from the game to become an Alaska State Trooper.
“I demanded what I was putting out,” Anderson told the Daily Mirror in an interview in 2017. “We were always successful, and we had some great years here when I was playing. I didn’t back down from a challenge from anybody, and I think that goes into whatever day my life is.”
Eleven years after graduating from Kodiak High School, David Anderson returned to the school’s basketball program in 1990 to coach a morning junior varsity team that would never have a game.
That year was enough to hook Anderson. He spent 17 of the next 33 years as a varsity head coach — 14 with the Kodiak boys and three with the girls. When he wasn’t head coach, he was still involved.
Anderson’s coaching career ended last Saturday when he retired after the Kodiak boys’ final game in the Northern Lights Conference Championships. After walking off the Kodiak hardwood, he told his players in the locker room that he had coached his last game.
“It got really emotional once he said that — especially for me,” Kodiak senior John Ticman said. “He was a great coach to me. I’m really thankful that he put trust in me and Connor (Case) our freshmen year — just seeing our potential. He has been a really great coach and I’m glad that I got to be part of his last year.”
Case credited Anderson for helping him develop as a player.
“He helped me with my confidence,” Case said. “Coming into my freshman year, all I knew how to do was shoot. Last year, I couldn’t shoot for anything, and he really helped me with my confidence to keep shooting.”
Case was one of the many shooters who learned from Anderson over the past three decades.
Anderson found his most tremendous success as a coach during his second tenure in the Kodiak boys program, developing players like Austin Frick, Louis Rocheleau, Augie Caguing and Jackson Krug.
In the past 13 seasons, Anderson guided the Bears to two NLC titles (2014 and 2022) and four trips to the 4A state tournament (2011, 2014, 2017 and 2022). He accumulated 134 of his 161 career wins since 2010.
“We put a couple banners up there (in the gym), which is something that we wanted to do when I took the program,” Anderson said. “I’ve been in the (NLC) championship four times, and I think we surprised a lot of people by that. … We were competitive with some very talented teams out there — and each one of these coaches who played us didn’t know what they were going to get each night.”
Preparing to play against an Anderson-coached team caused headaches for coaches. He liked to control the tempo — even if that meant slowing down the pace and taking advantage of Alaska not having a shot clock — and shooting 3-pointers.
“He really instills that patience and movement with the offense that he runs. It is great. It is tailor-made for Kodiak-style, but I could also see him loving it when he was playing — isolation and the long shots,” said John Malloy, who played for and coached with Anderson for nearly a decade.
Opposing coaches respected Anderson’s style of coaching.
“He has done one of the best jobs I have seen in terms of incorporating his personnel,” Colony coach Tom Berg said. “I think he has given Kodiak the best chance to win over the years. He has played differently than most other teams in the conference, but it has been effective.”
Anderson and Berg had their battles on the court. Kodiak’s two conference titles were over Colony — winning 56-50 in 2014 on the Knights’ court and 51-50 in 2022 at Palmer High School.
“It’s been a war every single time we played,” said Berg, now the NLC’s longest-tenured coach. “Knowone really knows — until you sit in the chair — how much time it takes to do a good job running a program. It is never-ending. I’m hoping they can find somebody who is willing to put that time in because he did a good job with it.”
Anderson wasn’t just coaching from November to March. He committed year-round, taking teams to compete in spring and fall leagues in Anchorage and two-week summer trips to Washington, where they would play 20-plus games and attend a camp at Gonzaga University. He also brought UAA men’s basketball coach Rusty Osborne to the island several times to run camps.
“He has infused not only his time but a lot of his other resources to help,” Malloy said. “I don’t think a lot of people know about Dave is, he really helps those kids who might not be able to afford that trip. He helps them find that trip.”
Anderson’s coaching reached beyond the court and gave students the foundation to excel outside of high school. A handful of his players played in college, many went into the military, and some became teachers and even coaches. He built leaders.
“I look at the players who have played under Dave and look at how successful they have been in life, and I think that is probably his best legacy that a lot of people don’t really appreciate,” Malloy said.
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