There are not a lot of ways out of Barrow, but basketball is one of the best.
Depending on the season, the city of 4,400 people on the Arctic Ocean is typically only accessible by airplane or snowmachine. For restless teenagers, Barrow's long, dark winter (the sun doesn't rise for two months between November and January) and scant entertainment options can be a bit of a drag. So for the Barrow High boys basketball team, the physical toll of playing back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back games is worth it when the payoff is trips to the mall and dinners out in Alaska's largest city.
"We have nothing there," Barrow freshman Kamaka Hepa said. "No mall, no movie theater."
Like many 14-year-olds, Hepa's assessment of his hometown's entertainment options -- or lack thereof -- might be on the harsh side. According to the city's website, Barrow is home to eight restaurants, a recreation center and three convenience stores. That isn't nothing, but it's certainly a far cry from the kind of action offered in Anchorage, where on Saturday the Whalers wrapped up an epic road trip that included games on six straight days.