Ketchikan held Thunder Mountain to just three first-half field goals and closed with an 8-3 spurt to top the Falcons 45-36 Tuesday in the 4A girls’ bracket opener of the 2011 Region V 3A/4A Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School.
Ketchikan faces defending conference and 4A state champion JDHS at 6:50 p.m. today in the double-elimination tourney.
The Falcons shot poorly in the first half but made a game of it in the second, closing within four points, 37-33, after a bucket inside from junior Shale Kibby at the midway point of the fourth quarter.
But Ketchikan responded with four straight points after a well-executed cut to the basket by freshman Jayley Taylor for a deuce on an inbound play, and another drive-and-score by junior Shiree Sells to push the Kings back up 41-33.
“It was huge for us,” Ketchikan coach Kelly Smith said of the 4-0 spurt. “The funny thing about the inbound play was that was just ad libbed by the freshman, Jayley Taylor. She saw an opening and went for it... .
“We finally got them to play us in man(-to-man defense) after playing a 3-2 (zone) the whole game. We’ve been working on what to do against man and Shiree attacked right away and got that layup.”
Sophomore Jonelle Staveland buried a 3-pointer form the corner for the Falcons, but the Kings got an easy bucket in transition from Sells, and Ketchikan held on down the stretch. Two free throws by Taylor with 22 seconds to go put the game out of reach and set the final score.
“It’s frustrating watching us work so hard to get so close a couple of different times during the game,” TMHS coach Tanya Nizich admitted, “and then one little lapse here or there can set you back.”
The Kings raced to an 8-0 lead as the Falcons missed their first six shots, finally getting on the board with an Eyerus Tingley banker at the 3:20 mark of the first period. A Hannah Carson 3-pointer the other way made it 11-3, Kings, and Katie Tarver splashed a triple from the wing at the buzzer to make it a 12-5 game after one quarter.
Ketchikan doubled up Thunder Mountain 16-8 after a baseline floater from Taylor, and pulled away with a 6-1 spurt to close the half with a 25-13 advantage after four free throws and a Bayley Lindgren 15-footer.
TMHS responded by scoring the first five points of the second half to get back into the game, but never could get over the hump.
“We talked about having these quarters where we fall asleep a little bit, and it’s not until we get down that we get fired up and want to get going with attacking the basket and being more physical on defense,” Nizich explained. “You can’t have a slip ... and have a quarter that sets you back because then you’re always fighting against that quarter.”
Smith applauded the Falcons for fighting back from a 12-point deficit at the half and an 8-point hole heading into the fourth quarter. TMHS won the second half 23-20.
“It’s not what we didn’t do well, it’s what they did well,” he said of the Thunder Mountain rally. “(Nizich) adjusted well at halftime and we went into (the locker room) talking about the middle being there, and she really focused on taking the middle away. She did a nice job. Erin (Doherty) kind of saved us there in the third ... and then we started to lose that aggression. It seemed like the third quarter just flew by. I think we just got complacent but we worked through it.”
Doherty and Lindgren scored 14 points apiece to lead Ketchikan. Staveland scored 11 points for the Falcons.