Thunder Mountain hosts Ketchikan tonight in the Falcons' first-ever boys' basketball Southeast Conference showdown at the Thunderdome.
"That's actually really exciting," coach John Blasco said of the 8 p.m. matchup. "I've been reminding the guys of that all week because only a few of them have ever played a conference game, and they're always the most exciting, whether it's Juneau-Douglas or Ketchikan. I hope the guys are excited for the challenge because I know Ketchikan is.
"We're looking forward to a fun weekend against a very good team."
Every game counts, but conference games determine your seeding for the conference tournament, which should help motivate his guys even more, Blasco said.
The Falcon girls will tip off against 3A Sitka at 6:15 p.m. tonight, followed by the boys (5-3). Saturday, the girls tip off at 5:15 p.m., and the boys around 7 p.m.
The Kings (6-2) average about 65 points per game behind do-it-all senior guard Jeff Wicker's 23.4 points per game.
"They're a very good team and they're returning a very good player in Jeff Wicker," Blasco said. "He's quite good, and he's doubled his average from last year. They've played a lot of tough competition from around the state, and the two games they've lost were close."
After a 6-0 start, Ketchikan dropped its last two meetings to North Pole, 70-67, and Eatonville (Wash.), 43-35. Whicker scored 22 against North Pole, but Eatonville held him to just 14.
Blasco hopes to do the same, using senior wing Cody Grussendorf to defend him, but he said it won't be easy.
"My understanding is that he's got the whole package," Blasco said of Whicker. "He can consistently hit the three, but he can also get some inside penetration and shoot the mid-range jumper. He's going to be tough to contain. I don't necessarily think we'll be able to stop him, but I think we'll be able to contain him. We're not going to do anything special, but we'll throw some of our best defenders at him."
Blasco said the Falcons are still searching for their identity on the offensive end.
"We're trying to figure out how to gel together as a team. We're running a motion offense and still trying to get the guys to work together in terms of support and trusting each other," he said. "We're still trying to get comfortable playing together, having the misfortune of not playing together several years.
"We're still a little shaky in our team offense. We're trying to piece it together, and it will help being home after being on the road for the last few games."