Petersburg boys use dominant second-half defense to secure 2A state basketball championship

Mar. 17—The 2024 state basketball championship for the 2A boys featured two teams looking to snap their respective title droughts but only one would be able to prevail.

It had been 11 years since top-seeded Hooper Bay hoisted the First National Bank championship trophy in 2013 and seven years since No. 3 seed Petersburg went the distance in 2017.

After a back-and-forth first half in which neither team held more than a three-point lead, the Warriors went into halftime up 22-20. However, the Vikings clamped down on defense in the second half, allowing just 11 points over the final two quarters combined on their way to a 41-33 victory.

"We talked at halftime that we could play (at) another level defensively and we talked about getting out in transition and maybe try to go to the basket a little bit more," Petersburg head coach Rick Brock said. "We stayed more attached to their shooters."

He felt his team played a bit "tentative" in the first half but once they started to get a little more loose and changed their rotation, they started getting better looks to attack the basket.

"We've been down at halftime all tournament and we just knew we had to come out strong and never give up," senior Hendrik Cumps said. "When someone is up, it doesn't mean that the game is over. It was 0-0 at halftime and we just had to outplay them in the second half."

Even though the state tournament is a neutral site, it felt like a hostile environment for the Vikings. It seemed that a great majority of the crowd rooted for Hooper Bay. But with their all-black uniforms, Petersburg relished playing the role of the villain in this instance.

"We knew coming in ... there was going to be a lot of Hooper Bay fans here but we like being the bad guys," Cumps said. "We like coming from behind and proving people wrong."

After losing to the same team at regions and coming up short at state in each of the past three seasons, to go out on top as a senior is a "dream ending" for Cumps and the rest of his fellow seniors.

"It's the best feeling ever," Cumps said. "We worked all year for this. At the start of the year, we said this was our goal. Get a banner, a state championship, and we did it."

He led the charge on both ends of the court for the Vikings, finishing with a double-double after posting 14 points and 14 rebounds, both of which were game highs.

"I just played my hardest and got great contributions from my teammates and great passes to me," Cumps said. "I just know I have to support them as much as they support me."

He played a vital role in holding Hooper Bay's star senior guard Latrell Lake scoreless in the second half after Lake nearly recorded double figures in the first with nine points.

"It was a team effort for us but (Cumps) has struggled at times and as good as he is, he just didn't have confidence in himself," Brock said. "I really thought that tonight from beginning to end, he stepped on the court and didn't let things bother him and battled."

The Vikings felt very battle-tested and confident that they could go the distance this year because of how tough their conference and schedule as a whole was in 2023-24.

"Our league was a battle every weekend and we had a lot of close games," Brock said. "We played nine of our games being against 3A and 4A teams. That really prepared us for coming in here."

Brock was the head coach of the Vikings the last time they won state and to do it again with this group is a reward for their community that has supported the student-athletes.

"We're blessed to live in a small town in Southeast that cares about sports, cares about kids, and has a long basketball tradition," Brock said. "It means a lot and especially for these guys because our community likes teams that work hard and represent. This group does that."

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