It's back to work for the Wrangell High School boys basketball team. The Wolves take on Tok in first-round action of the annual Rally the Regions Tournament at Dimond High School.

This year's tourney is the second for Wrangell's Riley Blatchley.

"I think it's good competition up here. It's always good to see what the state has to offer," said Blatchley, a senior who plays center.

Wrangell and Tok are among the 12 teams in the tournament, which features some of Alaska's smallest schools from villages around the state.

"We recognize the opportunity people gather around sports, and these kids are going to be the future leaders of our state," said tournament director Heath Day.

The tournament has four fewer teams from last year. But that's not a bad thing.

"The teams expressed interest in wanting to do other things around the tournament, so we cut the field down a little bit," Day said.

In the tournament's fourth year, it's had issues like any big event and faces another interesting challenge.

"We have a list of (more) teams wanting in for next year than teams we're going to be able to accept," Day said. "We're already going to have to decide who we invite in."

The players come to Anchorage not just to play basketball, but also to share something else they love: their culture. Various events are held throughout the tournament to help the players learn about other Alaska Native groups.

"Somebody who lives in Southeast Alaska lives in Alaska, (but) they have a very different experience of what that means than someone who grows up in Northwest Arctic," Day said.

"I think it's really important to see where the other teams are coming from, see how they play and where their influences come from, I think that's really important," Blatchley said.

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