ANCHORAGE - March Madness kicked off at the Sullivan Arena, Monday, with 64 basketball teams from around Alaska battling for a state championship title.
"It's a big honor,” said Kilina Klaich, a freshman at Nikolaevsk High School. “I'm so happy we could do this, especially as young as we are. We have a great future ahead.”
Klaich’s school is so small, six of the girls on the team are 8th graders, which means the Warriors had to work even harder to keep up with more experienced teams.
“We're to proud of our girls for getting this far, and working this hard, and the team work and perseverance,” said Kelli Hickman, a parent from Nikolaevsk. “We have no seniors, no juniors. It's all lower classmen so they've worked really hard to get here.”
Due to a scheduling problem the boys’ games were delayed until Monday afternoon, but the players were happy to be spectators, and take in the sights and sounds of the quarterfinals.
"It's exciting to see all the teams from around the state who’ve worked so hard this past year,” said Sergie Chukwak, from Bristol Bay High School.
For many of the smaller communities, basketball is one of the most important sports and plenty of parents came out to support their players.
"They work really hard to keep their grades where they need to be and there's not much else for them to do,” said Hickman. “When they're not doing school work they're out playing basketball because the choices are so limited where we're at.”
On Tuesday, 1A and 2A schools will compete in semifinals and consolation games, with the championship on Wednesday.
On Thursday 3A and 4A teams hit the courts for their quarterfinals with semifinals on Friday and the championship on Saturday.