Thunder Mountain High School Falcons’ seniors Josh and Vili Tupou spoke softly on Friday night against the Ketchikan Kings, but they played basketball with a very big presence.
“The Tupou boys are hard to rattle,” Ketchikan coach Eric Stockhausen said. “They did a good job of getting their bigs the ball and controlling what pressure we put on them.”
Despite tallying just six points between them, the Tupou duo over powered the guard oriented line up of the Kings.
Ketchikan tried to pressure the Falcons full court and with a trap at half court on defense and slowed the pace of the game with a deliberate half court offense, forcing TMHS to capitalize on every possession.
“They are constantly pressuring you,” TMHS coach John Blasco said of Ketchikan. “That was when I got on the guys, because we were leaning back. you have to keep going forward when you are playing against a team that is always in your space.”
The Falcons’ Matt Seymour hit two deep threes in the opening minute of play and Ben Jahn followed a shot for another score and an 8-2 advantage. J. Tupou stole a Kings pass and dished to Seymour for another tally.
Both Tupou boys got hit with their first foul within a 20 second span at the 5:03 mark but didn’t let up on aggressive play.
Leading 13-6 starting the second quarter, V. Tupou stole a Kings pass and dished to B. Jahn for a score to counter Ketchikan’s first basket of the period.
V. Tupou put the Kings into the bonus when he committed his second foul at the 4:07 mark and Kayhi went 3-4 at the charity stripe in the period.
“It was fun,” Vili Tupou said. “I was pretty overly aggressive. Ketchikan is a smart team, they have some smart guards. I have to be able to play smart ball. That has been my problem for the past three years. I have learned that if one thing doesn’t work though, go with the other.”
Seymour forced a Ketchikan time out when he blocked a shot and fed B. Jahn for a transition layup. Six different Falcons scored in the first half, including Travis Johnson’s put back shot with less than 30 seconds remaining.
“We like to share the ball,” Johnson said. “It is not just any one player lighting it up. We have multiple people who can score.”
Leading 20-13 starting the third period five of those six found the basket again and stretched the score to 35-25 at the final quarter break.
V. Tupou drew his fourth foul on an offensive charge at the 6:15 mark of the fourth quarter.
“I told him I was going to leave him in the game,” Blasco said. “He is a senior, a leader, and I wanted him to get that ball right back and be strong with it. He is a strong kid. When he bumps somebody they’re likely to be the ones that are going to fall down.”
Tupou took the next possession down low, faked up and reversed pivoted for a power layup. While it was his only bucket of the night it provided a spark that included his defensive deflection that his brother picked up and fed to Sam Jahn inside, forcing Kayhi to call a time out.
V. Tupou would foul out two minutes later.
Seymour led the Falcons with 14 points, S. Jahn added 10, B. Jahn nine, Johnson eight, Ty Grussendorf five, J. Tupou four, Jacob Calloway and V. Tupou two apiece. TMHS went 7-16 at the free throw line, Ketchikan 6-10. Erwin Malabanan led the Kings with eight points, Colton Paulsen six, Malik Almenzor and Brien Auger five apiece, Kable Lervick four, Isaiah Navales and Mo Bullock three, and Nick Whicker two.
“They are obviously an experienced team with good size,” Ketchikan coach Eric Stockhausen said. “They rebound very well, and we are mostly guards so that is a challenge for us. It is early and it is frustrating but they did a nice job and we didn’t play as well as we needed to.”
That size showed on Saturday as the long arms of Sam Jahn accounted for a double-double with a team-high 19 points and 13 rebounds and Matt Seymour tallied 16 points (complete scorebook was not available by press time).
The Falcons used six different players to open a 17-13 first quarter lead and after Kayhi scored the first bucket of the second quarter TMHS responed with an 11-2 run.
Starting the third quarter up 28-17 the Tupou brothers again found themselves drawing whistles as Vili was hit with his third and fourth fouls of the game in a 20 second stretch at the five-minute mark and Josh was awarded his third at 4:20.
Jahn ran off eight points, Grussendorf a deep three pointer, Seymour a free throw and Johnson a put back to coast the Falcons into the final period up 48-24.
The Falcons bench got playing time until the 2:14 mark when Ketchikan narrowed the gap to 57-45. A return of the starting five produced a pass from J. Tupou to S. Jahn inside for a basket and command of the game again.
Ketchikan’s top three scorers were Isaiah Navales with 11 points, Malik Almenzor added 10 and Erwin Malabanan nine.
The TMHS junior varsity won on Friday 43-38 (TM - Ludeman, Soakai 9, T. Uddipa 8, Mielke, Bean, Tamelen 4, Womack, Nye 2, M. Uddipa 1 / KTN - Whicker 11, Day 9, Bullock 5, Erickson, Covault 2, Svensen 1) and the C team lost 57-51 (TM - Tamelen 18, Olangco 11, J. Seymour, Mielke 7, Bean 4, Voght, Del Rosario 2 / KTN - Svensen 14, Buendia 10, Standley 9, Weston, McClennan 8, Muesel 6, Smith 2). On Saturday the JV lost 42-36 and the C team lost 62-53.