With seven Alaska women on its basketball roster, Peninsula College must feel like a home away from home for players from the Last Frontier.

Many of them used to be high school rivals. Bartlett’s Adam Kaganak, Service’s Eden Hopson faced West’s Lupe’lani Vaaia faced off in the Cook Inlet Conference. Barrow’s Jenilee Donovan went against ACS’ Sunny Pedenone and Chasity Selden in Class 3A.

It’s the same thing with the Everett men’s team, which features Colony’s Colton Spencer and West Valley’s Tyriq Luke. The former Class 4A all-state stars squared off in Alaska but in the NWAC they share a jersey, and a common goal.

“We’re trying to get a ring,” Spencer said during a recent press conference. “We’re hungry for it, man. We’re coming for it. I promise you.”

The NWAC Final Four tips off Saturday in Pasco, Washington, where 13 Alaska men and women are spread over five of the eight teams.

NWAC Championships
Women’s Semifinals

12pm – Green River vs. Columbia Basin
2pm – Peninsula vs. Lane
Men’s Semifinals
4pm – Everett vs. Clackamas
6pm – Columbia Basin vs. Bellevue

The Peninsula Pirates don’t just feature the most Alaskans of any NWAC team – they have the best of the bunch in Ituau Tuisaula of Soldotna.

The 6-foot-1 Tuisaula was named North Region MVP this season and is averaging 16.0 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots in 23 games.

Last week she reached the 600-point career plateau. In February, she became the first Alaska player to grab 24 rebounds in a college game, breaking the previous Alaska record of 23 shared by three players.

“She’s a really big part of our team,” said Donovan. “She’s just a really big presence. It’s really hard for teams to guard us because they don’t want to leave her, so it opens up other opportunities for us outside on the perimeter.”

Joining Tuisaula on the All-NWAC Team from Peninsula was Selden, who selected to the second team. The player formerly known as Horn is averaging 14.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 15 games.

Donovan is averaging 8.0 points and Kaganak chips in 7.7 to round out the top scoring Alaskans for the Pirates (22-4).

Columbia Basin includes two Alaskans out of Fairbanks in sophomore guard Ali May and head coach Amy Sokaitis.

May has started 22 of 26 games and is averaging 6.4 points.

Sokaitis is in her second season, turning a 9-17 club into a 22-5 final four team to earn East Region Coach of the Year honors.

A chip off the ‘ol block, she owns 122 career wins in following in the footsteps of her father Al Sokaitis, a towering figure from Alaska who coached the UAF Nanooks to the Top of the World Classic in 2002 and a GNAC title in 2003.

On the men’s side, Bellevue boasts Bishop Tosi out of Bartlett – the only Alaskan to earn All-NWAC first team honors among the 16 guys from the state in the league this year.

The 6-foot-6 sophomore forward is averaging 15.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 blocked shots in 30 games.

Tosi needs 10 points to reach 800 for his college career.

Columbia Basin has Savien Linnear out of Tanana. The freshman guard has a season high of eight points.

Everett is led by the 1-2 punch of Luke and Spencer. They each scored 18 points in the NWAC quarterfinals one night after combining for just 11 points in a blowout.

“Every night it’s someone new and I feel like that’s why it’s hard to beat us,” said Luke, who is second on the team with 13.6 points per game.

Three weeks ago, Luke canned a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Edmonds. Everett hasn’t lost since and carries a six-game winning streak into Saturday’s semifinals.

Spencer is averaging 12.8 points in 29 games and was named to the NWAC All-Defensive Team (along with his sister Maggie, a sophomore at Clark).

That Valley family locks it down on defense. Fire, desire and defensive intensity are also driving forces behind this late-season charge by Everett, which had to win its last four games of the regular season to clinch a playoff spot.

“We got heart, man,” Spencer said. “This team … we want to win so bad.”

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School Boosters:
Krispy Kreme, Zareena and Allen Clendaniel, Rick Mystrom, Mark Silverman, Burgerfi, Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing, Midas Alaska, BOSCO's, Replacement Glass, Sarah & A.J. Schirack, Dan Rufner, On the Border, Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC., Korndrop Family Foundation, Advanced Diagnostics, INC, Amy & Jason Miller, Sarah & A.J. Schirack