The Ketchikan Lady Kings went on a 10-0 first-half run and defeated Juneau-Douglas High School 52-44 to clinch their fifth consecutive Region V 4A girls championship Friday night in Ketchikan.
JDHS got 19 points from junior Alyxn Bohulano and 13 from junior Caitlin Pusich, but had trouble finding open shots against the Lady Kings’ defensive pressure.
Ketchikan senior Brittany Slick scored a game-high 23 points and went 11 of 11 from the free-throw line.
Despite trailing by eight or more points for most the second half, the Crimson Bears played hard until the very end. JDHS needed to win Friday and again on Saturday in order to win the regional championship and earn a state-tournament berth.
“We never gave up, we never let them take over,” senior Cassie Dzinich said. “But in the second quarter, just a little lapse of focus, and that can lose the game.”
After three lead changes and two ties, Kayhi turned the ball over with 17 seconds left in the first quarter. Bohulano tied the game at 11-11 with six seconds left, but Slick dashed up the court and barely beat the clock with a layup and free throw.
Ketchikan went on to score the first seven points of the second quarter, going up 21-11 at the end of the run. The home team led 26-17 at halftime.
It was an emotional end to the high school careers of Dzinich and fellow senior Morgan Balovich. The finality of the loss sunk in right away.
“It’s been a long four years,” a teary-eyed Balovich said moments after the game. “It was just heart-shattering that it stopped now.”
Dzinich played the entire tournament with a torn ACL, which she suffered in the second-to-last week of the regular season. But even that wasn’t going to keep her from finishing out the season.
“I’ve played basketball since I was like 5 and I just really, really wanted to be able to finish it out,” Dzinich said. “And so I just feel really thankful that I was able to push through even if I didn’t play to the way which I normally played.”
Friday’s game was the fourth of the tournament for JDHS. The Crimson Bears defeated Thunder Mountain on Tuesday, lost to Ketchikan Wednesday before taking down TMHS again on Thursday. Thanks to a first-round bye and a win Wednesday, the Lady Kings played just once prior to Friday’s game.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.