Metlakatla girls upset defending champion Point Hope to claim first 2A girls state title in school history

Mar. 17—Despite being one of the hottest teams in the state, riding a 19-game winning streak into Saturday night's 2A state championship basketball game, the Metlakatla girls knew that notching their 20th consecutive win meant having to go through two-time defending champion Tikigaq.

Tikigaq, in Point Hope, had also topped Metlakatla by 20 points in last year's title game.

"We knew it was going to be between us and them again, so we just had to prepare for this all year," Metlakatla junior Lexi Cook said. "This is what we worked for."

The Miss Chiefs made history this time around with a gritty 51-42 victory to secure the first championship for the school's girls program after three unsuccessful tries in the past decade.

"We've been up here every year, and we've been hungry for this," Cook said. "It feels really, really, really good."

Their two small communities are on opposite ends of the state. Point Hope is in the Northwest corner while Metlakatla is in Southeast with 1,434 miles separating the communities. Nevertheless, the two perennial powers felt like they were on a collision course all season and especially after opening this year's tournament with commanding blowout wins.

"That's what I thought was going to happen, us meeting up with Metlakatla," Tikigaq coach Ramona Rock said Friday after the semifinals.

The Harpooners trailed for most of the game but were able to erase a double-digit deficit and even took the lead at one point late in the third quarter.

"We prepared for this, we had a game plan, we stuck with our game plan," Metlakatla head coach Tyson Hayward said. "They came out in the third quarter and made adjustments and then we made adjustments. The girls rose to the occasion."

The Miss Chiefs got some clutch buckets from senior Riley Booth, who made Metlakatla's time spent trailing short-lived. She knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game 33-33 and made a layup in the final second to give them a 35-34 lead to begin the fourth quarter.

"Tikigaq is well-coached and has great players but we have great players as well, and those players won the game," Hayward said.

The Miss Chiefs took control of the game and dominated most of the night in the post, where they could use their size advantage to impose their will and attack the paint.

"That's been our bread and butter all year so we might as well stick with it," Hayward said. "We knew they didn't have depth in the bench and we tried to exploit that."

Metlakatla scored twice as many points as Tikigaq in the final eight minutes (16-8) and was led in scoring by Cook, who posted a game-high 27 points. She earned Player of the Game honors and finished with a double-double after recording a game-high 13 rebounds.

"We got a lot of rebounds and a lot of easy buckets underneath," Cook said. "We had to use that (size) to our advantage because they're fast and they're shooters, but we're big."

The catalyst that helped the Harpooners nearly mount a comeback was star junior and reigning 2A Player of the Year Jennifer Nash.

"She's a great floor general," Hayward said. "She controls the floor and I'm glad our girls were up to the task. They were excited for it all day."

Cook said slowing her down was their primary focus coming into this game but she still managed to score a team-leading 19 points before fouling out with 41 seconds left in the game.

"We talk about her every day because she's a really good player," she said.

To bring home the first banner on the girls side means a tremendous amount not just to the team itself but their community as a whole.

"This is huge for our community," Cook said.

After the Metlakatla boys team fell in the semifinals on Friday, the Miss Chiefs knew they were the last chance to bring a championship back home.

"It was our turn and that made us want to work even harder," Cook said.

Metlakatla was also runner-up in 2015 and 2018, falling to Tikigaq in the finals in the latter.

Winning this title was especially meaningful for Cook and senior Kennedy Cook who is both her teammate and auntie although they view each other more like sisters.

It meant that she could send Kennedy out on top and they both knew it would've made her late grandpa proud.

"He raised both of us and passed away last year right around this time, so it feels like we won it for him," Cook said.

ASAA 2A State Tournament

At Alaska Airlines Center



Unalakleet 41, Glennallen 38

Nenana 62, Hooper Bay 27

Metlakatla 57, Susitna Valley 30

Tikigaq 64, Haines 28



Glennallen 32, Haines 23

Susitna Valley 33, Hooper Bay 32


Metlakatla 42, Nenana 35

Tikigaq 64, Unalakleet 34



Glennallen 36, Susitna Valley 30

Third/fifth place

Nenana 53, Unalakleet 45


Metlakatla 51, Tikigaq 42



Hooper Bay 54, Unalaska 39

Metlakatla 51, Unalakleet 47

Petersburg 44, Ninilchik 42

Cordova 48, Wrangell 45



Unalakleet 64, Unalaska 45

Wrangell 46, Ninilchik 39


Hooper Bay 48, Metlakatla 44

Petersburg 38, Cordova 34


Fourth/Sixth place

Unalakleet 47, Wrangell 35

Third/Fifth place

Cordova 47, Metlakatla 42


Petersburg 41, Hooper Bay 33