In a season full of fantastic individual performances, Kayhi's Jeff Whicker might have saved his best for senior night.
Playing in his final game at Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium, the senior guard was nearly unstoppable Friday, scoring 33 points as the Kayhi boys' basketball team beat Thunder Mountain, 67-57.
Whicker scored 11 straight points for Kayhi to start the fourth quarter as the Kings overcame an early 27-14 deficit to move within one win of clinching the No. 1 seed at the 4A Southeast Regional.
"I can't even describe that in words," a clearly emotional Whicker said. "It was just amazing."
Whicker got to work as soon as the fourth quarter started.
He converted a three-point play on the period's first possession to give Kayhi a 52-47 advantage, then hit a layup off a lob pass from senior Tyller Bell to put the Kings ahead by seven.
Thunder Mountain's Reese Saviers answered with a 3-point basket to cut the lead to four, and Torey Franzen nailed a 3-pointer on the Falcons' next possession to make it54-53.
But the highlight of the night came seconds later when Bell forced a Thunder Mountain turnover, dove for the ball and shoveled it from the ground to a streaking Whicker who gathered himself before throwing down a two-handed dunk that gave Kayhi a 58-55 lead with four minutes left and whipped an already raucous home crowd into a frenzy.
"To say that was a dunk, seems like an understatement if you realize the kid is 5-foot-10 and a half," Kayhi coach Eric Stockhausen said. "I can't wait to watch the video.
"It really helped us finish the game."
Thunder Mountain would never getcloser.
Whicker hit a floater on Kayhi's next possession to give the Kings a 60-55 lead, and Bell pushed the advantage to seven with a layup.
Bell and Whicker were the only two players to score for Kayhi in the fourth quarter. Bell, the hero of Friday's 66-59 Kayhi win, finished with 13 points. Junior Chas Allen had 11, and the Kings got solid minutes from bench players seniors Dave Klein and Simon Brooks, and junior Alex Williams.
Reese Saviers - held to just two points Friday - led Thunder Mountain with 20 points Saturday. Cody Grussendorf added 16 after scoring 10 in the first quarter. Franzen finished with nine and Jazz King had eight.
The Falcons burst out of the gates with a 27-point first quarter, shutting out the Kings for the over the final 4:30 of the opening period to enter the second quarter with a 27-14 advantage.
"I think our energy level just picked up," Thunder Mountain coach John Blasco said. "They just jumped out of the gate excited and aggressive. It helps when you don't miss."
Senior night quickly turned into Whicker's night as the Kings only allowed 30 more points - 10 in each quarter - the rest of the way.
"It's the best feeling in the world," said Whicker, who is averaging 24.7 points per game this season. "It's pretty much exactly how I wanted to go out. I have no regrets."
Of course Kayhi isn't "out" yet. The Kings open a two-game road series with Southeast Conference rival Juneau-Douglas Friday, and only need one win to clinch the top seed at regions.
But Kayhi will wait a day or so to worry about that.
"We'll try to enjoy tonight, and what the kids were able to experience," Stockhausen said. "Juneau is one of the premier programs in the state, and always have been. ... Our kids have got to find a way to win one game."
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