Weather delayed the Thunder Mountain High School girls’ weekend basketball series at Mt. Edgecumbe, resulting in an unusual Saturday double-header for the Falcons against the Lady Braves.
The Falcons didn’t arrive into Sitka and get situated until past 1 a.m.. One C game, two JV games and the varsity clashes were played later in the day.
“It was a great test for these young bodies and minds to be able to focus and push themselves hard for eight quarters a piece,” TMHS coach Tanya Nizich said. “Some played even more than that. Sarah (Morris) played in 16 quarters on Saturday. She was on the court most of the JV games and rolled over to play big minutes in the Varsity games.”
In the first varsity contest neither team shot the lid off the basket as the Falcons took an 8-5 first quarter advantage and led 17-14 at the break. TMHS (3-11) never surrendered the lead and stayed ahead 23-19 starting the final period. Mt. Edgecumbe (8-4. 4-2) had no player score more than three points in a quarter.
“It was an unusual game,” Nizich said. “Both teams couldn’t hit a shot. The outcome was decided by who could play better defense.”
The Falcons caused a number of deflections and steals.
“We made them work for every shot,” Nizich said. “We played defense exactly like we had talked about it in practice. We were active with both our hands and feet.”
Janelle Staveland scored 6 of her game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter, including going 4-6 at the charity stripe as the Lady Braves were forced to foul the Falcons top scorer. Thunder Mountain took the win 35-26.
Ashley Young added six points Sarah Morris four, Emily Winters three, Shale Kibby, Kinsey Marshall, and Eyerus Tingley two each, and Shayla Reeves one.
The Lady Braves didn’t have a double-digit scorer. Taryn White led Mt. Edgecumbe with nine points, Scarlett Beaver seven, Brandi Hale and Venitta Denozki four apiece, and Melissa Fisher two.
The Falcons hit 7-17 at the free throw line, Mt. Edgecumbe went 8-16.
“It was a big weekend for me and my team, “ Falcons freshman Sarah Morris said. “I basically lived off of Gatorade and power bars. It was difficult and I had to push myself to another level. I had a ton of fun playing with both teams.”
Both teams seemed to be saving their offensive explosions for the nightcap game.
“It was a fun and aggressive game on both sides,” Nizich said. “Both teams got after it. We did a good job with working the ball inside to outside and looking for smart passes. We really took good care of the ball in both games and I felt like we cut down on our turnovers tremendously.”
Five Falcons found the net in the first period to offset a scorching show by Mt. Edgecumbe’s Scarlett Beaver who tallied eight of her game-high 19 points in the stanza. The Lady Braves held a 16-14 advantage starting the second quarter and led 33-32 at the half.
Ashley Young scored six of her team-high 12 points before the halftime break. Kibby, Reeves, Winters, Kylie Ibias, and Michaela Demmert all scored in the second period, which forced the Lady Braves to contend with a complete team effort.
A slow offensive second half, and a lop-sided foul count, doomed the Falcons as they scored seven in the third and trailed 44-39, but could only manage five points in the final period and lost by 10, 54-44.
Kibby added eight points for TMHS, Staveland and Winters seven apiece, Demmert four, Reeves, Ibias, and Sarah Morris two each. Hale added 11 points for Mt. Edgecumbe, Breanna Johanson and White 10 apiece, and Denozki four.
The Falcons hit just 1-5 at the free throw line while the Lady Braves connected on 12-18.
Junior Eyerus Tingley commented that in first game the Falcons could sense when Mt. Edgecumbe was tired, “So that’s when we knew to use our endurance and attack their weaknesses and pull out a win.”
Senior Shale Kibby stated the team worked well together.
“We all had the same goal,” Kibby said. “We showed them we weren’t tired and worked hard to make them tired. We learned as a whole that we could succeed if we all work together.”
Thunder Mountain will host Wasilla on Thursday. The Warriors are currently ranked number one in the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches Poll.