By Van Williams
Classic Media Director
Don’t be fooled by the small-schools tag for Tikigaq. The Harpoonerettes of Point Hope will steal your hoop dreams.
Just ask the Durango Trailblazers, a Class 4A team out of Las Vegas, Nevada, where Tikigaq beat them 65-51 in a tournament.
Durango has an enrollment of 2,600. Tikigaq has just 80 students.
The Harpoonerettes went on to finish 3-0 to win their bracket at the Tarkanian Classic, beating Justin Garza of Fresno, California 50-30 in the title game.
Before going to Vegas, they placed second at the Doc Larson Roundball Classic in Wasilla, where Tikigaq beat 4A Palmer 65-31 behind all-state playmaker Jennifer Nash, who pumped in 32 points to outscore the Moose by herself.
That win propelled the Harpoonerettes to the title game against perennial power Wasilla, which needed to rally over the final two minutes to pull out a 58-52 nailbiter.
With the wind at its back, Tikigaq enters the Alaska Airlines Classic riding a wave of momentum. Nash and fellow all-state teammate Jadyn Lane lead the way while Kasey Oviok, Virginia Teayoumeak and freshman Haley Oktollik-Nashookpuk have provided clutch contributions.
“They have been outstanding offensively and defensively,” said Tikigaq coach Ramona Rock.
Point Hope is a village on the Arctic Slope with a population of 800.
Two things are king: hoops and whaling.
Everyone on the team is back from last year’s Alaska Class 2A state championship squad. And everyone on the team is on a whaling crew.
“We whale in the spring; it is very hard work,” Rock said. “One of the girls whales with her dad and has been a ‘Harpooner.’”
Turns out the Tikigaq players are big-game hunters on and off the court.
Finding success in whaling, much like in basketball, centers around teamwork, communication and dedication.
“Preparation is done throughout the year. Everyone puts aside differences for one common goal,” Rock said. “It’s not for an individual goal but, to feed the community of Point Hope and many outlying communities.
“We take care of the elders, widows and put God first. When the Harpoonerettes put on their jersey, it’s as a team, to put differences aside and represent their community.”