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Lumen Christi girls remain confident in ability to successfully defend 1A state basketball title

Mar. 12—After winning the first state title in program history last year, the Lumen Christi girls basketball team is entering the 1A state championship tournament in unfamiliar territory as the defending champs.

"We're a completely different team, so we have different goals and we just try to maximize our potential," head coach Kenny Barker said. "Hopefully it is enough to win this year. That was the goal last year."

The Archangels are the No. 6 seed in the tournament after they compiled an overall record of 12-14 and went 11-6 against 1A competition and one of their biggest obstacles to repeating as champions is the very team — Shaktoolik — they beat to get crowned last year.

The two teams faced off once this year already and it didn't end well for the reigning state champs as the Wolverines beat them 52-17 in late January. The 2023 state runnerups are the No.2 seed and currently undefeated against 1A competition with an overall record of 18-2 with their only two losses coming against 2A reigning state champion Tikigaq.

"They're an extremely tough team but we've played a lot of teams this year and they're all pretty tough," Barker said. "I think this year will be a lot more even throughout the entire playing field (at state) and it will be fun to compete."

The Archangels lost senior captains Emily Ross and Natalie Grubba from last year's team and don't have any seniors on this year's squad which consists of nine underclassmen, including three freshmen.

"Our juniors have stepped up," Barker said. "They learned a lot this year, they stepped up in a lot of ways, and they have another year, so I think they'll do awesome in the future as well."

One of the top returners and stalwart leaders for Lumen Christi on and off the court this year has been junior Amara Warren.

"I think she should've been all-region last year and that was one of her goals this year," Barker said.

Two other new starters to the lineup that have been key to their success this year are sophomores Lillian Muller and Isabel Brown. Junior captain Hayden Estabrook has been a vital contributor as well.

"I think we've steadily gotten better all year," Barker said. "It has been an upward climb and we had a young team to start, so there was a lot to teach and learn."

He also credits his assistant coaches, Brian Connaker and Marissa Melovidov, for helping prepare the team to make a strong title defense this week.

"We've all taken different responsibilities for this team," Barker said. "It's really been a joint effort."

He sees a significantly improved team heading into state than what they had at the beginning of the year and that the players are "extremely confident" that they'll be able to show up and show out.

"Just like most other teams, we have a chance to beat anyone," Barker said. "We're just focusing on making sure we do the things that we should do well and then going in and playing hard."

1A state Tournament

At Alaska Airlines Center

Girls

Wednesday

No. 1 Klawock v. No. 16 Brevig Mission at 11 a.m. (Court 1)

No. 8 Buckland v. No. 9 Scammon Bay at 11:15 a.m. (Court 1)

No. 4 Newhalen v. No. 13 St. Mary's at 8 a.m. (Court 2)

No. 5 Nunamiut v. No. 12 Birchwood Christian at 9:30 a.m. (Court 2)

No. 3 Fort Yukon v. 14 Napaskiak at 12:30 p.m. (Court 1)

No. 6 Lumen Christi v. No. 11 Napaaqtugmiut at 6:15 p.m. (Court 1)

No. 7 Bristol Bay v. No. 10 Skagway at 8 a.m. (Court 2)

No. 2 Shaktoolik v. No. 15 Akiak at 9:30 a.m. (Court 2)

Thursday

Consolations

Game 1:Loser of Klawock/Brevig Mission v. Buckland/Scammon Bay at 11 a.m. (Aux Gym)

Game 2:Loser of Newhalen/St. Mary's v. Nunamiut/Birchwood Christian at 12:30 p.m. (Aux Gym)

Game 3:Loser of Fort Yukon/Napaskiak v. Lumen Christi/Napaaqtugmiut at 6:15 p.m. (Aux Gym)

Game 4:Loser of Bristol Bay/Skagway v. Shaktoolik/Akiak at 7:45 (Aux Gym)

Quarterfinals

Game 5:Winner of Klawock/Brevig Mission v. Buckland/Scammon Bay at 11 a.m. (Court 2)

Game 6:Winner of v. Newhalen/St. Mary's v. Nunamiut/Birchwood Christian at 12:30 p.m. (Court 2)

Game 7:Winner of Fort Yukon/Napaskiak v. Lumen Christi/Napaaqtugmiut at 6:15 p.m. (Court 2)

Game 8:Winner of Bristol Bay/Skagway v. Shaktoolik/Akiak at 7:45 (Court 2)

Friday

Game 9:Winner of Game 5 v. Winner of Game 6 at 3:15 p.m. (Court 2)

Game 10:Winner of Game 7 v. Winner of Game 8 at 4:45 p.m. (Court 2)

Saturday

Third place

Loser of Game 9 v. Loser of Game 10 at 9:30 a.m. (Main Court)

Championship

Winner of Game 9 v. Winner of Game 10 at 2 p.m. (Main Court)

Boys

Wednesday

No. 1 Kake v. No. 16 Emmonak at 3:15 p.m. (Court 1)

No. 8 Napaaqtugmiut v. No. 9 Shaktoolik at 6:15 p.m. (Court 1)

No. 4 Cook Inlet Academy v. No. 13 Aqqaluk at 3:15 p.m. (Court 2)

No. 5 Minto v. No. 12 Klawock at 4:45 (Court 2)

No. 3 King Cove v. 14 Aniak at 7:15 p.m. (Court 1)

No. 6 Nunamiut v. No. 11 Lumen Christi at 12:30 p.m. (Court 1)

No. 7 Shishmaref v. No. 10 Kipnuk at 4:45 p.m. (Court 2)

No. 2 Scammon Bay v. No. 15 Koliganek at 7:45 a.m. (Court 2)

Thursday

Consolations

Game 1:Loser of Kake/Emmonak v. Napaaqtugmiut/Shaktoolik at 8 a.m. (Aux Gym)

Game 2:Loser of Cook Inlet Academy/Aqqaluk v. Minto/Klawock at 9:30 a.m. (Aux Gym)

Game 3:Loser of King Cove/Aniak v. Nunamiut/Lumen Christi at 3:15 p.m. (Aux Gym)

Game 4:Loser of Shishmaref/Kipnuk v. Scammon Bay/Koliganek at 4:45 p.m. (Aux Gym)

Quarterfinals

Game 5:Winner of Kake/Emmonak v. Napaaqtugmiut/Shaktoolik at 8 a.m. (Court 2)

Game 6:Winner of Cook Inlet Academy/Aqqaluk v. Minto/Klawock at 9:30 a.m. (Court 2)

Game 7:Winner of King Cove/Aniak v. Nunamiut/Lumen Christi at 3:15 p.m. (Court 2)

Game 8:Winner of Shishmaref/Kipnuk v. Scammon Bay/Koliganek at 4:45 p.m. (Court 2)

Friday

Game 9:Winner of Game 5 v. Winner of Game 6 at 6:15 p.m. (Court 2)

Game 10:Winner of Game 7 v. Winner of Game 8 at 7:45 p.m. (Court 2)

Saturday

Third place

Loser of Game 9 v. Loser of Game 10 at 8 a.m. (Main Court)

Championship

Winner of Game 9 v. Winner of Game 10 at 4 p.m. (Main Court)