Connecting You With AK Athletes – For 10 Years Strong!!

For the last 10 years, the Alaska Sports Blog has provided daily updates on local athletes all over the world. The blog was created Aug. 24, 2009 as a way to fill a void of media coverage of Alaska athletes once they left the 907 area code. Former Anchorage Daily News sports editor and Alaska Press Club award winner Van Williams has been with the blog since the beginning and written more than 4,000 stories on over 1,000 Alaskans.

Follow us on Twitter: @AKsportshall, Instagram: alaska_sports_hall, and Facebook.

Click here to read more about Van Williams and the Alaska Sports Blog.

January 20, 2020
Alissa Pili basketball

Alissa Pili

After securing a monster double-double and scoring the winning basket to help USC women’s basketball upset undefeated rival UCLA, Alissa Pili of Anchorage was named Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Week.

Pili piled up 19 points to go with a career-high 17 rebounds and converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 29 seconds left to push the Trojans to a 70-68 victory over the No. 7 Bruins in double overtime.

She collected six points and four rebounds in the second OT, anchoring USC’s first win over a top-10 opponent since 2017.

Pili, of Dimond High fame, split a double team in the post and powered her way to the rim for the hoop and the harm.

This was Pili’s sixth double-double in 17 games this season, her second in two meetings against UCLA.

Something about the bright lights of the longtime Los Angeles rivalry brings out the best in the 6-foot playmaker.

Her 17 rebounds were the second-highest total among Alaskans at the NCAA D1 level.

Most Rebounds Game
18 Jessica Moore, Connecticut 2003
18 Azella Perryman, Stanford 2003
18 Ruthy Hebard, Oregon 2019
17 Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska 2010
17 Alissa Pili, USC 2020

Last month, Pili pumped in 28 points against UCLA for the seventh-highest scoring game among Alaskans at D1.

Most Points Game
42 Talisa Rhea Oregon State 2009
36 Kelsey Griffin Nebraska 2010
34 Brit Jacobson, Kansas State 1994
34 Ruthy Hebard Oregon 2019
33 Chandice Cronk, Santa Clara 2007
29 Andrea Lloyd, Texas 1984
28 Alissa Pili USC 2020
27 Jeannie Hebert, Miami 1990

Jeremiah Bailey basketball

Jeremiah Bailey

Jeremiah Bailey of Fairbanks poured in a season-high 13 points and hit a late 3-pointer for the University of the Pacific that made things interesting at the end of an 84-80 loss to Santa Clara in the West Coast Conference.

Bailey pulled Pacific within 82-80 with five seconds to go in the game after drilling a 3-pointer and getting fouled. He missed the free throw for a chance at a rare four-point play.

Bailey, of Monroe Catholic High fame, scored more points in this game than he had in the previous six games put together.

The 6-foot-6 junior added six rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes coming off the bench.

Bailey has now reached double figures six times in 53 career games. His career high is 22.

January 19, 2020
Danica Schmidt basketball

Danica Schmidt

Soldotna’s Danica Schmidt scored a season-high 17 points on a night when the Lower Columbia College women’s basketball team had everything working in a 92-16 win over Grays Harbor in the NWAC.

The 5-foot-10 freshman sank 8-of-12 field goals and added nine rebounds, three steals, an assist and a blocked shot.

Schmidt, of Soldotna High fame, has reached double figures in seven of her 19 games. Her team is 7-0 when that happens.

She ranks third on her team and leads all Lower Columbia freshmen at 7.3 points per game.

January 18, 2020
Jaron Williams basketball

Jaron Williams

Anchorage’s Jaron Williams drilled back-to-back jumpers inside the final two minutes of overtime to lift the Spokane men’s basketball team to a 74-69 win over Wenatchee Valley in the NWAC.

The freshman guard finished with 13 of his 19 points after halftime, including the go-ahead jumper with 1:58 left in the extra session to put Spokane ahead for good.

He iced the game with another jumper with 25 seconds left to push the lead to four points.

Williams, of East High fame, added seven rebounds, two assists and two steals in 39 minutes.

This was the fourth time in 13 games that he netted 19 points or more. His season high is 24. He is averaging 13.5 points per game.

Spokane improved to 6-0 in the East division and 16-3 overall.

Christian Hausinger hockey

Christian Hausinger

Christian Hausinger of Anchorage collected his second hat trick of the season to extend his points streak to four games for the University of Wisconsin-River Falls hockey team.

The junior defenseman had three goals and an assist in a 6-2 victory over Wisconsin-Stout in NCAA D3. This was his first hat trick since the season opener on Nov. 1.

He was the centerpiece of a two-goal spurt in a four-minute span with the primary assist on a power-play goal at the end of the first period and scoring a goal with the extra attacker at the beginning of the second period.

Three nights later he racked up two assists in a 4-0 win over St. Olaf.

Hausinger, of Dimond High fame, has compiled nine goals and 15 assists for 24 points in 17 games.

He leads his team in assists and points.

January 17, 2020
Alex Carlton basketball

Alex Carlton

Palmer’s Alex Carlton took over the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of her 14 points and knocking down the winning 3-pointer in the final seconds as North Idaho beat Wenatchee Valley 66-63 in the NWAC.

She hit 3-of-5 field goals (including two 3s) and 3-of-3 free throws in the final quarter as the Cardinals erased a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit.

Her second 3 of the quarter with 2:57 left tied the game at 59-59.

North Idaho improved to 8-7, dropping No. 7 Wenatchee Valley to 11-6. Both teams are 2-2 in the East division.

Carlton, of Colony High fame, has reached double figures in 10 of 14 games and leads North Idaho in scoring at 13.2 points per game.

She ranks No. 20 in the NWAC with a .358 3-point shooting percentage.

January 16, 2020
Jacob Calloway basketball

Jacob Calloway

Juneau’s Jacob Calloway wasn’t looking to leave the Swiss League, but a team in Czech Republic made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Ostrava doubled his salary to lure the 6-foot-8 forward to switch leagues.

“I’m getting paid like a third-year vet now,” Calloway told me. “They offered me over twice of what I was getting paid in Switzerland and lot better benefits and it’s a better league.”

The investment paid off immediately as Calloway came off the bench to score nine points in 20 minutes and help Ostrava win 85-83. It was just the team’s fourth win in 19 games.

“I didn’t expect to play a lot since I haven’t even been here for three days but I did play the final five minutes and was part of our comeback for the win,” he said.

Calloway, of Thunder Mountain High fame, is a former Southern Utah University starter who bypassed his senior year and turned pro, hiring an agent and signing with the Pully Lausanne Foxes of Switzerland’s top league.

In 13 games in the Swiss League, he averaged 15.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He shot 37 percent from 3-point land.

He was brought to the Czech Republic to pump life into a slumping squad. So far, so good.

“Everybody here from the GM to my coaches to my teammates have all been very positive with me and helping me,” Calloway said. “I had a rough shooting night but my coach trusts me and keeps telling me to shot and he gives me a lot of freedom to play my game, which is cool.”

The big payday won’t change how he plays the game.

“I just want to help the team win. Some nights they’ll expect me to score a lot and some nights I need to rebound and defend. Whatever I can do to help win is why I was brought here,” Calloway said.

Kamaka Hepa basketball

Kamaka Hepa

Once lost in the shuffle, Kamaka Hepa of Utqiagvik has found his way to the starting lineup at the University of Texas.

His game has taken off since he was named a starter, highlighted by his career-high 15-point effort in a 76-64 win over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Conference.

he sank 6-of-10 field goals and grabbed four rebounds. He was the top scorer in the game.

Hepa, of Barrow High fame, also went 3-for-7 from 3-point land.

This was the second time he has reached double figures in 41 career games, but the first since he had 11 against Baylor on Feb. 27, 2019.

Both times he scored double digits he was in the starting lineup.

His numbers as a starter compared to coming off the bench are staggering.

STARTER
6 games
50 points (8.3ppg)
.480 3-point percentage (12-25)
9 blocked shots

RESERVE
35 games
43 points (1.2ppg)
.238 3-point percentage (10-42)
4 blocked shots

January 15, 2020
Clair DeGeorge hockey

Clair DeGeorge

Two goals from junior Clair DeGeorge led the Bemidji State University women’s hockey team to a 3-2 upset win over No. 1 University of Wisconsin in the WCHA.

She’s scored the first goal at the 5:49 mark of the first period. Her game winner gamer came at the 8:31 mark of the second period.

DeGeorge has tallied four goals and 10 assists for 14 points, ranking third on the team in points.

She owns two game winners on the season.

Jonny Homza baseball

Jonny Homza

Anchorage’s Jonny Homza made history in the Australian Baseball League by becoming the first Auckland Tuatara batter to have five base hits in a game.

The 20-year-old catcher finished 5-for-5 with an RBI and three runs scored as Auckland beat the Sydney Blue Sox 16-2.

The Tuatara (19-13) maintained their spot atop the division, 4.5 games ahead of the Brisbane Bandits and Canberra Cavalry.

Homza, of South High fame, is now hitting .297 in 31 games with five doubles, two home runs and 10 RBIs.

The five hits were a career high. His previous high was three hits set on four occasions.

Homza is a 2017 fifth-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres. Last summer he played for Class-A Tri-City of the Northwest League.

January 14, 2020
Sydnee Kimber wrestling

Sydnee Kimber

Sitka’s Sydnee Kimber wrestled the match of her life, carrying a shutout into the final minute and upsetting the No. 1-ranked wrestler in her weight class at the NCAA D2 National Duals in Louisville, Kentucky.

Her clutch victory was vital in helping McKendree University secure its second straight national championship.

If she didn’t win, her team couldn’t win.

The No. 2-ranked Kimber earned a 10-2 decision over No. 1 Emily Cue of Simon Fraser at 191 pounds in the final match of the night, tying the team score at 19-19 and forcing a tiebreaker to determine the title.

Kimber, of Mt. Edgecumbe High fame, built up a 6-0 lead going into the last minute of the match when Cue scored a takedown

The defeat of Cue avenged the only loss that Kimber has against a collegiate opponent this year. That loss was at the Clansman Open during the first week of competition.

Kimber, a sophomore, and Cue, a freshman, will not see each other until the national tournament in in March in Adrian, Michigan.

January 13, 2020
Ruthy Hebard basketball

Ruthy Hebard

Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks continues to rewrite the record book for women’s NCAA D1 college basketball players from Alaska.

The University of Oregon senior forward recently moved into the No. 1 spot for career points, career rebounds and career blocked shots.

The ultimate triple-double.

Hebard, of West Valley High fame, has been a trend setter her entire career, first as a heavily recruited high school star and now as a prolific Pac-12 power forward with the Ducks.

But now she has cemented her legacy as the top women’s college player from Alaska.

And the competition is fierce.

Eagle River’s Kelsey Griffin was the first Alaskan (man or woman) to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds.

Juneau’s Andrea Lloyd won an Olympic gold medal with Team USA.

Palmer’s Jessica Moore won three NCAA championships with UConn.

All three also played in the WNBA.

Career Points
2051 Ruthy Hebard, Oregon 2016-2020
2033 Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska 2006-2010
1766 Jeannie Hebert, Miami 1988-1992
1664 Talisa Rhea, Oregon St/Seattle 2008-2012
1596 Andrea Lloyd, Texas 1983-87

Career Rebounds
1129 Ruthy Hebard, Oregon 2016-2020
1115 Andrea Lloyd, Texas 1983-87
1019 Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska 2006-2010
834 Jessica Moore, Connecticut 2001-2005
650 Molly Tuter, Arizona State 1993-97

Career Blocked Shots
135 Ruthy Hebard, Oregon 2016-2020
125 Jessica Moore, Connecticut 2001-2005
120 Sylvia Bullock, Miami, 2008-2012
94 Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska 2006-2010

Career Games
145 Jessica Moore, Connecticut 2001-2005
129 Sylvia Bullock, Miami, 2008-2012
129 Azella Perryman, Stanford, 2001-2005
127 Kelsey Griffin, Nebraska 2006-2010
127 Andrea Lloyd, Texas 1983-87
126 Ruthy Hebard, Oregon 2016-2020

January 12, 2020
Azaria Robinson basketball

Azaria Robinson

Work behind the scenes made it possible for Anchorage’s Azaria Robinson to shine under the bright lights as her productive practice habits paved the way for extended playing time with the University of New Mexico women’s basketball team.

The 6-foot-2 freshman cashed in on the opportunity by posting season highs in points (12), rebounds (5) and minutes (12) to lead the Lobos to a 75-53 win at Air Force in the Mountain West Conference.

“She’s been practicing better than other people, and she deserved to play,” New Mexico coach Mike Bradbury told the Albuquerque Journal. “The people who showed us they wanted to play the most got the most minutes. And that’s the way we’re going to do things moving forward.”

Robinson, of West High fame, made an immediate impact after entering the game for the first time in the second quarter.

In the first 55 seconds, she grabbed two rebounds, handed off an assist and converted a layup.

Her play sparked the Lobos, who rallied after a slow start to win their first MWC game of the season and avoid the first 0-5 start in league play since 2012.

January 11, 2020
Jonah Coats track and field

Jonah Coats

Jonah Coats of Valdez was only looking for a college track and field coach to give him a chance.

Then another Alaskan made it happen.

And now Coats is making it happen in the heptathlon.

The Eastern Oregon University redshirt sophomore wrapped up his first heptathlon of the season by taking fourth place overall at the Lauren McCluskey Invite & Multis in Moscow, Idaho.

Coats, of Valdez High fame, finished with a personal record and NAIA provisional qualifying mark with 4,435 total points. The total was an improvement of 389 points from last season and ranks No. 7 in the EOU record books.

“Some years his score will make the 16-man field at Nationals and some years it will not, so he will get another shot in a few weeks and hopefully continue his remarkable improvement,” EOU coach Ben Welch told me.

Welch is from Alaska and graduated from Wasilla High. He has coached at the college 28 years for cross country and 18 years for track and field.

He took a chance on Coats after receiving a phone call from Ron Langseth, a teacher and coach in Valdez.

“Jonah was obviously intelligent and humble and just wanted a shot at being part of the team,” Welch said, “so my sprints/jumps coach Rebecca Rhodes and I gave him a shot.”

From walk-on to NAIA Indoor Nationals contender.

“In the first week or so of his freshman year, Jonah was in our small practice gym watching some athletes work out in an event he had never seen before when he asked us, ‘What is that and can I try it?’” Welch said.

Pole vault hasn’t been in offered in Alaska in more than 30 years.

“That very attitude is what really got me to thinking about having him try the multi events,” Welch said.

January 10, 2020
Isaiah Saville hockey

Isaiah Saville

Anchorage’s Isaiah Saville was back in net for the University of Omaha hockey team and his presence paid immediate dividends.

The freshman netminder turned aside 26 shots as the visiting Mavericks upset No. 1-ranked North Dakota 6-3 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

Saville, of West High fame, had missed the last four games dating to Dec. 14 because he was part of the USA Hockey team that competed in the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic.

This was Omaha’s fourth win over a nationally ranked opponent with the Alaskan in goal.

Saville also beat Ohio State, Wisconsin and Western Michigan.

He stopped 11 of 12 shots in the third period to seal the deal.

Saville has won his last two starts to improve to 6-5-2 on the season.

January 9, 2020
Catherine Sunny basketball

Catherine Sunny

Catherine Sunny of Nightmute converted key baskets at the end of the fourth quarter and then again in overtime to lead the Highline Community College women’s basketball team.

The freshman guard outscored Green River by herself in OT en route to a season-high 21 points to lead the Thunderbirds to a 59-53 victory in the NWAC.

Sunny, of Mt. Edgecumbe High fame, also grabbed a season-high eight rebounds.

She had an offensive rebound and tip in to get Highlight with 51-48 with 2:26 left in regulation.

In OT, she pushed the lead to 55-51 in the opening minute. Then in the final minute she grabbed a defensive rebound and four seconds later drained a jumper to put the game out of reach.

Sunny is averaging 9.7 points and 3.0 rebounds in 10 games.

Daniel Hornbuckle basketball

Daniel Hornbuckle

Daniel Hornbuckle of Fairbanks has been a walking bucket this season for the Portland Community College men’s basketball team.

The 6-foot-1 sophomore guard ranks No. 9 in the NWAC in scoring after pouring in a career-high 34 points in a 95-87 loss to Clackamas in Oregon.

This was his fifth game with 26 points or more, fueling his team-leading 22.8 points per game scoring average.

Hornbuckle, of West Valley High fame, went 4-of-7 from 3-point line and 12-of-14 from the free-throw line. He played all 40 minutes.

He ranks fourth in the NWAC as an 88.2 percent foul shooter.

January 8, 2020
Amber Steinhilpert

Amber Steinhilpert

Anchorage’s Amber Steinhilpert continues to pile up points and win faceoffs for the Alvernia University women’s hockey team.

The freshman forward pushed her points streak to five games after recording a goal and two assists in games against NCAA D3 rivals Wilkes and Cortland.

Steinhilpert, of South High fame, has recorded two goals and five assists for seven points in her last five games. Compare that to her first six games when she tallied only one goal.

Two of her goals this season have come on the power play.

She has won 159 of 296 faceoffs.

Steinhilpert also ranks second on the team with 16 blocked shots in 11 games.

January 7, 2020
Ally Hull hockey

Ally Hull

Wasilla’s Ally Hull in back-to-back games recorded her first goal and first assist for the Concordia University women’s hockey team in NCAA D3.

They are the first two points of her junior season and came in a two-game series against the Bennies of Saint Benedict in Mequon, Wisconsin.

Hull, of Wasilla High fame, has started seven of 10 games this season.

She owns 10-5-15 scoring totals in 61 career games.

Hull used to play soccer as well for Concordia, but this season decided to focus on just hockey.

Leya DePriest basketball

Leya DePriest

Palmer’s Leya DePriest made the most of her first start of the season for the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team.

The 6-foot-3 senior center logged a season-high 29 minutes and contributed a career-high five assists to go with four points and six rebounds in a 75-58 loss to Portland State in Oregon.

DePriest, of Wasilla High fame, was one shy of her career high in rebounds.

Her five assists matched the rest of the team combined.

She has scored 47 points in 12 games compared to last year when the Denver transfer had 53 points in 30 games.

January 6, 2020
Justin Woods hockey

Justin Woods

Justin Woods of Fairbanks is headed to the ECHL All-Star Game for the first time.

The third-year defenseman will represent the Kansas City Mavericks on the Western Conference team.

Woods, of UAF fame, has amassed four goals and 16 assists for 20 points in 29 games.

“Justin has been an anchor on the blue line for us this year and a great leader in the locker room,” said Mavericks Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations John-Scott Dickson.

Woods has matched his points total from last season in 15 fewer games.

The 25-year-old spent his first two seasons in the ECHL with the Jacksonville Icemen.

Jonny Homza baseball

Jonny Homza

Anchorage’s Jonny Homza got hot just in time to help the Auckland Tuatara extend the longest home winning streak in the Australian Baseball League.

Auckland pushed its win streak to 11 games after a 4-0 homestand against Geelong-Korea.

Homza hit .462 in the series and played all over the field defensively, starting at catcher, third base and second base.

His best effort at the plate came in Game 3 of the series when he batted 3-for-4 with two RBIs. He went 2-for-4 in Game 2.

Auckland has a 16-12 record and is three games up in the ABL’s Northeast Division.

Homza, of South High fame, was recently moved up in the batting order. He is hitting .259 in 27 games after bouncing back from a slow start.

He has two home runs, four doubles, 12 runs and nine RBIs.

Defensively, Homza has moved around the infield but seen the most innings at catcher, where he has a 1.000 fielding percentage on 105 total chances.

January 5, 2020
Colter Lasher basketball

Colter Lasher

Anchorage’s Colter Lasher scored a season-high 26 points in just 28 minutes as the No. 7 Bayer Giants beat No. 10 Tuebingen 88-83 in Germany’s A League.

He added a season-high 11 rebounds to complete his first double-double in 16 games.

Lasher, of Dimond High fame, drained 10-of-16 field goals, including 5-of-9 from 3-point range.

The former Houston Baptist star leads Bayer in scoring at 14.7 points per game. He also leads the team with 24 3s.

January 4, 2020
Jeremy Swayman hockey

Jeremy Swayman

Anchorage’s Jeremy Swayman became the first NCAA D1 goalie to reach 700 saves on the season after he made 32 stops for the University of Maine hockey team in a 3-2 win over Nebraska-Omaha.

The junior netminder improved to 10-8-4 on the season, with his 22 appearances ranking No. 1 in the country.

Swayman also ranks No. 1 nationally in minutes (1,329) and saves (726).

He owns 39 career wins, which ranks No. 1 among active Alaskans.

Swayman is a 2017 fourth-round draft pick of the Boston Bruins.

Gus Schumacher Cross-Country Skiing

Gus Schumacher

Two Anchorage skiers each won two medals in the first two days of the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championship in Houghton, Michigan.

Gus Schumacher of Alaska Winter Stars racked up a gold and silver while Caitlin Patterson of the US Ski Team picked up a silver and bronze.

Schumacher, of Service High fame, claimed first in the freestyle sprint after winning all three heats in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.

He outsprinted two opponents in the final to strike a gold medal and national championship.

Schumacher finished second in a field of 221 in the 15-K freestyle race.

Caitlin Patterson cross-country skiing

Caitlin Patterson

A year ago, he made American history after helping the U20 4×5-K relay become the first-ever U.S. squad to win a gold medal at the World Junior Championships.

Patterson, of South High fame, was the top American finisher in the women’s 10-K freestyle, but Finland’s Riitta-Liisa Roponen won the race in a field of 176.

Patterson was third in the freestyle sprint after winning her heats in the quarterfinals and semifinals.