By Kara Moriarty
The North Star Catholic
Lumen Christi, one of the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau’s Catholic schools, won the Class 1A Boys Basketball Championship in Palmer on April 3. This was the first championship for the Archangels since 2004, and the first for Lumen in Class 1A.
For the first time in school history, both the girls’ and boys’ teams from Lumen Christi were the Alaska Peninsula Conference Regional Champions coming into the state tournament April 1-3, which was played throughout the Matanuska-Susitna Valley due to COVID-19 restrictions in Anchorage. The pandemic also changed the format for the state tournament, in which only eight teams versus 16 per class were allowed to play, and only a consolation round was offered, meaning no games were played for third through eighth place as normal.
The girls team started the tournament playing their quarterfinal game against the strong Newhalen Malamutes from Iliamna in southwestern Alaska. The Lady Archangels fell to the eventual state champion 55-27. However, they came back and saved their third quarter lead to win their consolation game against the Tri-Valley Viking Warriors from Healy by a score of 51-49.
The young Lumen girls team started a junior, three sophomores and an eighth grader, so this is not likely the last time these ladies will see the state championship stage. Sophomore Emily Ross was selected to the All-Tournament Team. Ms. Ross was also given the Good Spirit Award along with 8th grader Amara Warren. The Lady Archangels were led by volunteers: head coach Tom Gregory, assisted by Michelle Hajdukovich, Nikelle Sherman, and Adam Trombley.
Despite a contentious victory in the regional torunament, the boys’ team was a dominant force throughout the state tournament, outscoring their opponents by over 100 combined points in their three games. The weekend started by playing a young and scrappy team, the Upriver Hunters, a co-op of Shungnuk and Kobuk, Northwest Arctic villages. The Archangels posted an 86-28 victory, with eight different players scoring in the quarterfinal.
The semifinal game was against the Wolverines from Shaktoolik, an Inupiat village located on the Norton Sound coast. Head Coach Adam Trombley and assistant coach Tom Gregory devised a specific game plan to slow the pace of the game and it worked, with the Archangels winning 66-48. The boys’ coaches are also volunteers for the school.
The Archangels outscored the Wolves of Maudrey J. Sommer School from Tanana, a village on the Yukon River, 77-30 to win the championship to the delight of 125 excited fans (the limit of fans due to the pandemic). All-Tournament Team member Robert Wilcox dominated the championship game with 34 points, and ended the tournament with 68. He was joined on the All-Tournament Team by teammates Daniel Bennett and Brendon Gregory. Wilcox and Gregory were also awarded the Good Spirit Awards for the Archangels. While the boys’ team may not be as young as the girls, the Archangels only said goodbye to two seniors, Daniel Bennett and Garrett Renfroe, so the future is bright.
Following the game, the team was congratulated by Lumen Christi alum Daniel George, a member of the 2004 championship team. The celebration ended as every day ends at Lumen Christi, as sophomore Sam Kaplan “The Chaplain” led family and friends in praying the St. Michael the Archangel Prayer.