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Hoogendorn's game-winner vaults Nome-Beltz to 3A boys basketball title

Mar. 23—Orson Hoogendorn is more of a generalist than a gym rat.

The Nome-Beltz junior hunts, runs and skis and enjoys all manner of other pursuits a high schooler may undertake.

But that made him the perfect player Saturday to take the final shot that vaulted the Nome-Beltz boys basketball team to its second Alaska 3A state title in the past three years.

Hoogendorn nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner with just 2.3 seconds remaining, thrusting the Nanooks to a stunning 63-61 win over previously unbeaten Mt. Edgecumbe.

"He's not a lifer in basketball. He plays as hard as he can but he doesn't watch it or study it," Nome-Beltz head coach Patrick Callahan said. "That's a big advantage in that situation. He's not thinking, 'Oh, what if I miss.' It's just not a big deal for him."

The Nanooks had an earlier chance to pull ahead in the closing seconds, but Finn Gregg's shot rolled off the rim. After a scramble for the loose ball, it ended up in the hands of Hoogendorn as time ticked down.

"Coach likes to joke I didn't know how much time there was left," Hoogendorn said. "I'm not really that into basketball but I knew we needed a shot quick. I pumped fake and saw him go by. My mind went blank but I knew it was going in."

It wasn't the shot, but the roar of the crowd that alerted Gregg that Hoogendorn's shot found the bottom of the net.

"I didn't even look," he said. "I just heard the crowd and knew he hit it."

For Hoogendorn, basketball is more about camaraderie than pure competition.

"I just enjoy the sport," he said. "I love being with my teammates. I'm a social guy and I love being with my friends."

The two teams went back and forth for much of the first half with the Nanooks taking a 24-13 lead on a Hoogendorn 3-pointer in the second quarter. But the Braves ran off the next 11 points to tie the game at 24-24.

Mt. Edgecumbe's first half was spearheaded by guard Kaison Herrmann. Herrmann scored 16 points and was all over the floor.

Trailing 28-26 at half, Mt. Edgecumbe quickly chewed up the tiny deficit and led for virtually the entire second half.

The script was a similar one for Nome-Beltz, which needed to dig out of a hole to beat Grace Christian in the semifinals on Thursday. Gregg said the team has shown resilience all season long.

"We've said all season we've been here before," Gregg said. "We've been down in our regional championship. We were down two nights ago. We were down tonight and we never give up. And Orson Hoogendorn is the biggest testament to that I've ever seen."

Nome-Beltz has been in three straight championship games, and when the Nanooks last won in 2022, it was also a seeming upset over a powerhouse Grace Christian team. The Nanooks reached the final last year and lost to Grace Christian.

"We've got veterans on this team," Callahan said. "Last year we played Grace Christian, and we had to beat Houston two years ago and they were undefeated. So we've seen this before, where a team is undefeated. That just doesn't intimidate them."

Gregg led the Nanooks with 21 points. Hoogendorn added 14 and Stanley Booth scored 12. Herrmann of Mt. Edgecumbe led all scorers with 27. Teammate Kaden Herrmann added 11 and Donovan Standifer scored 10.

Mt. Edgecumbe shot the ball incredibly well, making 23 of 29 two-pointers and shooting 62% from the floor in total. But they lost the turnover battle, committing 21 to just eight for Nome-Beltz.

[After 25 years, Archie Young wraps up his career coaching at Mt. Edgecumbe]

The nearly capacity crowd roared with each basket as the two teams traded scores down the stretch. Hoogendorn said the Nome-Beltz crowd always plays a factor.

"They make it like we're playing at home," Hoogendorn said. "It's something not a lot of teams have. The last time we won this two years ago, we had a massive parade. It's just the best community we could ask for."

3A Basketball Tournament

At Alaska Airlines Center

Boys

Wednesday

Quarterfinals

Valdez 34, Barrow 31

Mt. Edgecumbe 66, Hutchison 20

Nome-Beltz 55, Houston 39

Grace Christian 51, Seward 30

Thursday

Consolation

Barrow 53, Hutchison 35

Houston 51, Seward 43

Semifinals

Mt. Edgecumbe 67, Valdez 38

Nome-Beltz 48, Grace Christian 41

Friday

Consolation

4th/6th place

Barrow 66, Seward 42

Saturday

3rd/5th place

Valdez 52, Grace Christian 47

Championship

Nome-Beltz 63, Mt. Edgecumbe 61