Anchorage middle schoolers win 40-team bracket title in Oregon

February 28, 2018

Alaska Grizzlies basketball

Alaska Grizzlies

A group of Anchorage middle schoolers earned Alaska some major regional respectability after winning the platinum bracket at the Presidents’ Day Tournament of Champions in Portland, Oregon.

The Alaska Grizzlies posted a 7-1 record, including a 5-0 mark in the single-elimination bracket play to claim first place in the 40-team division.

This is the largest youth tournament in the nation with more than 450 total teams for players in elementary school and middle school.

The Alaska team has won 33 of 40 games this season behind nine eighth graders and a seventh grader from Hanshew, Mears, Goldenview and Grace Christian middle schools.

“It goes to show that we are not only a good team in Alaska, but we can go to the Lower 48 and beat teams down there,” Grizzlies guard Dylan Westlake told me.

Last year, the Alaskans finished second out of 12 teams at the MLK The Dream Tournament in Anaheim, California.

Coach Derek Westlake, of Bartlett High fame, said the Grizzlies are reminding people on the West Coast about the young talent coming out of Alaska.

“Our style of play is solid, fundamental basketball. There is no selfishness on our team, which makes every player a scoring threat,” he told me. “In Alaska we play the same teams and you get to know your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses very well. When you compete out of state and have success it proves that you have true knowledge of the game. You go in with no knowledge of your opponent and just have to out play them.”