The Ketchikan girls basketball team wore pink jerseys on Saturday instead of their normal home whites. But the jerseys weren’t the biggest change in how the Lady Kings looked on the court.
After rolling to a huge win over Thunder Mountain on Friday, Ketchikan didn’t bring the same intensity on Saturday, falling 37-35 to the Lady Falcons in front of a huge crowd at the Clarke Cochrane gymnasium.
“In front of 1,500 people on our Pink Night, we decided not to show up,” Ketchikan coach Kelly Smith said. “Thunder Mountain did a heck of a job, you have to give credit to them for how hard they worked. They battled hard, but we sat back in front of all this support and chose to not bring it.”
Thunder Mountain (12-10 overall, 4-2 in the Southeast) rarely turned the ball over against a Ketchikan press that engulfed them in a 53-29 win on Friday. Unable to score off turnovers and in transition, the Lady Kings (11-6, 2-2) were largely stagnant in their half-court offense.
The gymnasium was filled with energy well before tip off from the large crowd on hand for breast cancer awareness night. But the Falcons seemed to absorb more of the spark from the fans, causing the Lady Kings too look anything but pretty in pink.
“We didn’t change anything,” Thunder Mountain coach Tanya Nizich said. “It was just a matter of how we all as a team showed up to play. Clearly yesterday we didn’t, but tonight we did.”
The Lady Kings hung around in the raggedly played contest, however, and had a shot to tie or win at the buzzer, but didn’t come close to getting a clean look at the basket. After inbounding the ball with 10.5 seconds to play, Ketchikan looked harried and wound up settling for senior guard Jayley Taylor attempting to throw the ball up against a double-team. The shot was partially blocked by Thunder Mountain’s Ava Tompkins and never came near the basket. There was a minimal amount of contact well after the shot, but Ketchikan didn’t get a bail-out call.
“We had every chance to win this game, but we got what we deserved,” Smith said. “They came into our gym and played focused, and we didn’t. If that is how we are going to play, then the end of this season is not going to be anywhere near what we’ve been hoping for.”
Ketchikan might need to sweep four games from Juneau-Douglas (3-15, 0-2) to tie Thunder Mountain for the Southeast’s regular-season crown. If they finish in a tie, the Lady Kings would own the tie-breaker due to point differential. Ketchikan hosts Juneau-Douglas on Monday and Tuesday at 7:15 p.m., then travels to Juneau to face the Crimson Bears on Friday and Saturday. The Southeast regional tournament is being hosted by Thunder Mountain, but the games will be played at the Juneau-Douglas gym March 5-8.
“Regions is going to be a battle,” Nizich said. “It will be intense. Juneau-Douglas and Ketchikan haven’t played yet. It will be nice that we will be able to watch those games at Juneau, because we are off next weekend.”
Thunder Mountain, which was never really in Friday’s game, falling behind 11-0 and 19-4, showed immediately that Saturday’s contest would be different, striking first on a mid-range shot by Tompkins.
Juniors Siosi Tupou and Cheyenne Ekis knocked down consecutive open 3-pointers from the top of the key midway through the first quarter as the Falcons jumped to a 10-6 advantage.
Meanwhile the Lady Kings were struggling from the field. Taylor was 1 for 5 from 3-point range in the first half and the Lady Kings as a team were 1 for 11 overall from beyond the arc in the opening 16 minutes of play.
Depending on the point of view, Ketchikan was either settling for outside shots, or Thunder Mountain did a better job of clogging up the driving lanes.
“We settled for shots instead of attacking the basket,” Smith said, espousing the former viewpoint.
Thunder Mountain’s Nizich went with the later view, “I thought we did a much better job on the defensive end of taking away their drives to the basket. We’ve been getting beat a lot this year on driving, not just by Ketchikan. That was a focus of ours today.”
Both teams struggling shooting the ball, with a high number of shots rattling in and out on the unkind rims.
Despite their offensive woes, the Lady Kings still managed to take a 20-19 lead into the break and looked like they might come to life early in the second half.
Sophomore Eliah Anderson blocked a shot by Thunder Mountain’s Ashley Young to open the half. Taylor then drove to the basket for a layup to give Kayhi a 22-19 lead. After a pair of Thunder Mountain turnovers, senior guard Alexis Crellin found Courtney Kemble inside for a hoop and Kayhi had its largest lead of the game at 24-19.
Thunder Mountain fought back, with Young scoring five points and Ekis knocking down a 3-pointer as the Falcons surged into the lead with a 10-2 run.
The Falcons led 29-28 after three quarters of play and Tupou scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to push the advantage to 33-28. A 3-pointer by Kayhi freshman AJ Dela Cruz briefly halted the momentum, cutting the Falcons lead to 33-31, but the basket with 6:31 to play would be the final field goal by the Lady Kings in the game.
After Michaela Demmer hit a 3-point to put the Falcons up 36-31 with 4:02 remaining, Ketchikan slowly climbed back into the game from the free-throw line.
The Lady Kings were 4 for 7 from the foul line, while Thunder Mountain went 1 for 4, leaving the score at 37-35 when Young hit 1 of 2 free throws with 20.5 second to play.
Kayhi’s Alexis Biggerstaff attempted to drive to the basket for a layup, but had the ball tipped away by Ekis, giving the Lady Kings the ball out of bounds with 10.5 seconds left. But Kayhi inbounded the ball and never got a clear look at the basket with time expiring as Taylor attempted a desperation shot.
Tupou led Thunder Mountain with nine points. Tompkins added eight. Young and Ekis each finished with six.
Kemble paced Kayhi with nine points. Anderson added eight. Taylor and Biggerstaff each finished with six.
The Lady Kings were 9 of 20 from the free-throw line. Thunder Mountain went 5 of 11 from the stripe.
Kayhi JV 46, Thunder Mountain 20
Dela Cruz scored 11 points and Tabitha Gordanier added nine to lead the kayhi junior varsity to another big win over the Falcons.
Ketchikan led 15-2 after the first quarter and 30-4 at the half.
Haleigh DiCarlo led Thunder Mountain with 11 points.
Kayhi C 26, Thunder Mountain 23
The Kayhi C team held on to beat Thunder Mountain by three points, splitting the weekend series with the Falcons.
The teams were tied 7-7 at the half, but Ketchikan built a 20-13 lead after three quarters of play.
McKenzie Harrison led the Lady Kings with 11 points. Tori Seley added nine.
Mary Willis led Thunder Mountain with nine points.
Friday’s game was over early as the Lady Kings scored the first 11 points and led by 20 points at the half en route to a 53-29 victory over the Falcons. Thunder Mountain never got closer than 18 points in the second half.
Taylor finished with 16 points to pace the Kayhi offense. Anderson added 10 points and swatted away three Thunder Mountain shots. Biggerstaff finished with nine points and Kemble scored six.
Young led Thunder Mountain with nine points, all in the first half. Tompkins scored six.