High school basketball is a favorite sport in Southeast Alaska. Every year small communities come out to support their local teams. But a scheduling change is revamping the game day vibes. 

Fred Angerman has been a referee for almost 30 years in Wrangell. He looks forward to game days, but says officiating up to four matches in one day can take it out of him.

“Twenty years ago I could do that but certainly not now, your knees only have so much mileage on em,” Angerman says.

Angerman and five other Wrangell refs, this year’s season is offering a bit more physical and mental relief. 

Last year, home games were a full production for the town. Hosting JV and varsity games, for both girls and boys, is a logistical puzzle. Games would kick off as early as 3 o’clock and wrap up late that night. 

Refs weren’t the only ones having trouble with that schedule. Some parents and school staff also found this to be draining.

This year, Wrangell’s district hoped to switch it up. The athletic department brought the idea up at a recent meeting with region V activities directors. The other schools agreed to try it out.

“The children are still playing the same number of games,” says Principal David Macri.

Last year, boys and girls would have hopped on a plane to Metlakatla together. Now, the Lady Wolves would make the trip on their own. The boys would stay in town and take on the Metlakatla chiefs on the home court. This schedule applies to most other matches, with the exception of Haines and Petersburg. This results in only one JV and one varsity game at home most weekends.

“I don’t believe it’s beneficial or not beneficial one way or another.” Macri says.

But it’s not the same to some in Wrangell. Austin Reed’s on the team. 

“When us guys are playing there’s no one to support us when we’re playing away games.” 

Without the girls team traveling with them, the boys often have no one to cheer them on. When they’re playing in other communities, Reed says he’s missing out on that home spirit. 

But Reed and the rest of the players will have more energy in the stands when both teams play Petersburg for homecoming. Those games will be on February 21st and 22nd.