The Homer girls basketball team is going to the Class 3A state tournament, starting Thursday in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley.
The Mariners were eligible for the state tournament thanks to beating Redington 38-23 on March 13 in the third-place game of the Southcentral Conference girls tournament at Nikiski High School.
At that point, Homer coach Chad Felice said he knew his team would be entered into a lottery to get into state held by the Alaska School Activities Association. Felice did not know when that lottery would be.
So Homer practiced all week not knowing its fate.
“It was interesting,” Felice said. “I didn’t know how the girls would be. I think we were lucky spring sports don’t start until this upcoming Monday. They didn’t have those practices, so they were focused and ready to go.”
Felice told the players they deserved to go to state, so they should practice like they were headed to state.
According to Felice, the Southeast Conference tournament ended last Thursday night and the second-place team decided not to put its name in the hat.
That allowed the lottery to go forward, with six chances for the Mariners and four for Hutchison of the Aurora Conference.
Felice said he initially heard from a player that the Mariners were in, but he called Homer athletic director Chris Perk just to make sure. Perk checked his email at 5:30 p.m. Friday and confirmed the Mariners had a ticket to the dance.
Homer, at 11-8, will start off against Anchorage Christian at 8:15 p.m. this Thursday.
The Kenai Central girls also are in the Class 3A tournament, having gotten an automatic bid by finishing second at the Southcentral tourney.
“I’m happy for the girls,” Felice said. “They put in all the work and followed all the COVID protocols. They worked hard when they finally got to be in the gym. I’m proud of how they played the season, no matter what happens at the state tournament.”
Reach Jeff Helminiak at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article has been updated to include where Homer falls in the Class 3A tournament bracket.