Photo courtesy of Fitzgerald Photography
Seth O’Leary remembers what happened in 2008 when the Seldovia Sea Otters reached the state semifinals but came up short.
This year’s team vowed to rewrite the history book.
Sparked by O’Leary’s 17 points, Seldovia beat previously unbeaten Scammon Bay 62-34 Wednesday in the 1A boys title game of March Madness Alaska, tthe ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Basketball State Championship at the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage.
Scammon Bay entered the championship game 27-0 and looking for its first state title.
But Seldovia grounded the high-flying Eagles from the start en route to capturing the first state basketball title in school history.
“We’ve been playing together since we were toddlers,” O’Leary said. “We saw our older brothers go to state and we said, ‘That’s what we’re going to do and we’re going to win it.’”
All-State stud Calem Collier led the Sea Otters with 23 points on near-perfect shooting: 6-of-8 from the floor, 5-of-6 from the foul line.
Teammate Aiden Philpot collected a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Yet it was O’Leary, a senior, who walked away with player-of-the-game honors in his final high school game.
“We all worked together as a team. It was a joint effort,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Calem, Dylan, Aiden and Chance - they all helped out and they are the reason why I’m player of the game.”
Seldovia jumped out to a 29-15 lead at halftime. In the third quarter the Sea Otters maintained the defensive pressure to frustrate Scammon Bay. Meanwhile, the lead ballooned to 44-17.
Credit Seldovia for shutting down the hottest boys team in the state in Scammon Bay and 1A Boys Player of the Year Angel Medina.
Medina, a 5-foot-11 guard, finished with just 4 points but added 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 assists.
It was Scammon Bay’s second title game appearance in three years for coach Harley Sundown. It looked to be his year.
But it was Seldovia’s tournament – the Sea Otters won consecutive games by the exact 56-55 score just to reach the state title game.
“We have so many people supporting us; the entire town,” O’Leary said. “They all support us. They helped fund us. They are the reason we are able to go to so many places. It’s really nice.”
Van Williams is a freelance writer in Anchorage and a correspondent for the Alaska Activities School Association.
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