By: John Nee '93
On Wednesday January 23rd the St. Rita Varsity Basketball Team travelled to Anchorage, Alaska, to compete in the Alaska Airlines Classic at West Alaska High.
The trip doubled as the players and coaches minimester requirement as they were able to experience many tourist attractions in Alaska.
The Mustangs opened the tournament on Thursday January 24th against Colony High School from nearby Palmer, Alaska. St. Rita trailed from start to finish against Colony eventually losing 53-45 despite 20 points from senior Javon Cooley.
Coach DeCesare's squad bounced back on Friday in a big way as they led from the start against Monroe Catholic High School from Fairbanks, winning easily 70-42. Senior Jeremiah Oden and junior Alec Millender led the scoring with 12 points each as Cooley played well again chipping in with 10 points and 7 rebounds.
The Mustangs would end the basketball end of their trip on Saturday with an afternoon game against Ketchikan High School. St. Rita would finish their journey to Alaska with a 69-47 win over the King Salmon as Millender poured in 24 points and Oden added 16 while senior Cameron Bartman pulled down 9 rebounds for the Mustangs (17-7).
Between games the Mustang players and coaches were able to experience Alaska for all that it has to offer. They attended classes with the basketball players from West Alaska High as well as attending a fine arts show put on by the high school band and choir. The team also visited the Anchorage Museum, and they took a tram to the top of the Portage Glacier on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. They also experienced the Alaskan tradition of dog sledding, which was the biggest hit with the players.
The trip was not without its difficulties, though, as their Alaskan Airlines flight was cancelled on Sunday and the team was forced to spend time in the Portland Airport before taking a propeller plane to Seattle where they were finally able to find a flight to Milwaukee before bussing home to good old' Chicago on Tuesday evening.
Despite the long road home because of the snow and the Polar Vortex the city of Chicago was experiencing, the team returned to St. Rita in one piece ready for the challenges of the final part of their schedule with experiences that will last them a lifetime!