The Thunder Mountain High School girl’s basketball team unleashed a highlight reel of hoop-enthused madness as they blasted the Ketchikan Lady Kings 64-55 despite 34 points form Kayhi’s Jayley Taylor.
The Falcons hit 14 of 27 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to hold off a dazzling display of shots by Taylor. TMHS was 23-43 at the line for the game, Ketchikan went to the line just 16 times and knocked down eight.
“We came ready to play this morning,” TMHS coach Tanya Nizich said. “Consistency in all four quarters was key.”
As the jump ball went up the non-stop action began.
Freshman Ava Tompkins pushed the ball up court and senior Jonelle Staveland scored on a runner.
Sophomore Sarah Morris stole a pass out of the full court press.
Sophomore Ashley Young pulled down a defensive rebound, senior Eyerus Tinley scored on a midrange jumper, and Morris hit a free throw.
The Falcons’ press forced another Ketchikan turnover and Young followed her own miss to score and get fouled.
Senior Shayla Reeves put a nice pass down into Young in the post and Young kicked it out to Staveland for a long triple and a five point lead, 17-12.
A rebound by Reeves, a push by Tompkins and a score by Young gave the Falcons a 19-12 first quarter advantage.
“Everyone woke up early read to go before we even headed to the gym,” Jonelle Staveland said. “We played our hearts out for 32 minutes non-stop because no one was ready for the season to end. The chemistry on the court today was indescribable. Our hearts were in it and that is why we won. No one gave up.”
When Ketchikan’s Taylor responded to start the second quarter on two straight possessions, the Falcons swooped in again.
Morris drove baseline and was fouled and sent to the charity stripe, Reeves rebounded a missed shot and Morris buried a triple. Morris rebounded on the other end and Young followed her own miss to score and with 2 minutes remaining the Falcons led 33-18. Kayhi closed to within 12 points at the break.
“One key thing for me mainly was to shut down Mikayla (Brown-Harrison) and get her into foul trouble,” Ashley Young said. “That is exactly what happened. We were all into the game from start to finish and everyone’s focus was to win.”
The Falcons’ press forced nine Kayhi turnovers in the first half, but Kayhi forced Thunder Mountain to commit 10.
The Falcons opened the second half with a 5-0 run and led 38-21 with 6:32 left in the third quarter.
Ketchikan scored inside but Staveland answered with her fourth triple of the game for a 41-23 cushion.
Ketchikan’s Taylor would not go away and capped off an 11-0 run with her own triple to close the Lady Kings within nine at 41-32. It became a 13-2 run as both teams dropped buckets within the next 20 seconds.
The score clock was smoking with 48-37 showing to start the fourth quarter.
With 6:06 remaining the Lady Kings cut the lead to 10 at 51-41.
It was nine at the 4:30 mark as Taylor hit inside. Mikayla Brown-Harrison made it seven at 3:55.
The Falcons then began a steady line up at the charity stripe to hang on for the nine-point win, 64-55.
“Our goal was to keep the lead all game from the get go,” Nizich said. “Many fouls were called against both sides but we kept our focus and moved onto the next possession. It was a well fought game by both teams.”
Young led TMHS with 19 points, Staveland added 18, Morris nine, Tompkins eight, Tingley and Demmert five apiece.
Taylor’s 34 was a career high, Eliah Anderson added eight points, Bayley Lindgren five, Alexis Biggerstaff four, Mikayla Brown-Harrison and Brooke Simmons two apiece.
The Falcons will face the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears for the 4A Girls Region V basketball championship at 3 p.m. Friday. Thunder Mountain has fallen to the Crimson Bears four times this season: Jan. 18 - JJDHS 54, TMHS 37 @ JD; Jan. 19 - JDHS 60, TMHS 39 @ JD; Feb. 22 - JDHS 55, TMHS 39 @ TM; and Feb. 23 - JDHS 56, Thunder Mountain 36 @ TM.