Rori Leaverton makes an all-state move against Yakutat. Cody Jennings
Leaverton makes 2A all-state team,
switch to 1A means expanded tourney
By JEFF BRADY
Even though it did not advance a team to the state basketball tourney last week, Skagway High School received some great news from Anchorage.
Just before the state tournament, senior guard Rori Leaverton was named a first team All-State selection by Alaska Media LLC and the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches.
Then the Alaska School Activities Association announced that, due to next year’s expansion of the 1A Class, it would be expanding the 1A state tournament from eight to 16 teams.
This will mean Southeast teams will continue to be able to send two teams to State, as it has in the 2A class. A major shift next year will see all of the current 2A schools in Southeast, including Skagway, move into 1A, which will grow to about 150 schools next year.
“That is great news that they are expanding the state tournament!” said coach Mark Jennings in an e-mail. “It is such a great experience for the kids. Anchorage is ‘the big city’ for these players. An experience they’ll never forget. More teams makes for an exciting tourney.”
ASAA executive director Gary Matthews said the decision was unanimous to expand the 1A tournament, which will grow by two days and have early rounds likely played at an Anchorage high school before the surviving teams move into the Sullivan Arena.
No Southeast team made it to the state finals this year. In girls, Klawock took third place and Yakutat fourth, as Point Hope defeated Cook Inlet 47-45 in the title game. In boys, Yakutat was defeated in the third place game by Birchwood Christian and Hydaburg was an early exit. Noorvik beat Scammon Bay by 2 in the championship. In 1A, tiny Newhalen won both boy’s and girl’s titles, so they’ll have to be reckoned with by SE teams next year.
Other Southeast students on the all-state teams were: Tina Esbenshade, Yakutat (first team); Tonya Busse, Klawock (third team); William Carle, Hydaburg (second team).