Senior Crystal Blair scored 21 points on senior night, senior Ciara Patton added 10, and the Kayhi girls basketball team evened its season series against Southeast Conference rival Juneau-Douglas with a 49-45 win over the Crimson Bears on Saturday at Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.
"It was a great high school basketball game," Kings coach Kelly Smith said. "It was fun."
Juneau-Douglas (17-3, 4-2) won the first game of the two-game series Friday after leading for most of the contest. Ketchikan (18-4, 6-2) turned the tables Saturday, taking a 34-26 advantage into the fourth quarter.
That's when the Kings' three most experienced seniors - Blair, Patton and Alexis Edwardson - took over. The trio scored all 15 of Ketchikan's points in the quarter, fighting off multiple late runs by the Crimson Bears.
"I've been proud of the girls all year, and tonight in front of a great crowd ... it was just fitting for these girls," Smith said. "They've got so much respect for Juneau and friendships with Juneau, there's probably nobody they'd rather beat on their senior night."
Blair was the first senior to step up, hitting a pull-up 3-pointer to give Ketchikan a 37-28 lead after Juneau-Douglas' Brittany Fenumiai opened the final period with a layup. Baskets from Karli Brakes, Fenumiai and Taylor Larson cut the Kings' lead to 37-34 with 4:48 left, but Patton answered with a 3-pointer from the right corner that upped the advantage to six 10 seconds later.
JDHS rattled off four unanswered points on layups by Annette Highley and Taylor Larson, but Blair converted a three-point play to keep Ketchikan ahead by five. Larson followed with a lay-up to make it 43-40 at the 2:14 mark, but that's as close as the Crimson Bears would get after Patton hit a pair of free throws to make it 45-40 with 36.5 seconds remaining.
Leading 45-42 with 18.5 seconds left, Edwardson and Blair hit four consecutive free throws to ice the game for the Kings, who went 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
"We could clean it up a little bit more," Blair said. "We were still kind of out of our comfort zone. ... I'm sure by regionals we'll be ready."
An intense rivalry between the Southeast foes was put on hold before Saturday's game as seniors from both teams were honored as part of the senior night celebration. Ketchikan and Juneau-Douglas players - many of whom have become friends - exchanged gifts during the pregame ceremony.
"These guys go way back to the middle school programs," JDHS coach Lesslie Knight said. "Our kids are pretty attached to (Ketchikan), and we're glad they had a good senior night."
Once the game started, the Kings used a high-pressure defense to limit the Crimson Bears to one field goal - a first-quarter lay-up by Highley - in the first half. The Kings led 10-6 after one quarter and 18-14 at the half before widening their advantage with a 16-point third period.
Wearing pink shoelaces and black socks with pink accents as a tribute to Saturday's breast cancer awareness event, Ketchikan seniors scored all of the Kings' points in their final regular-season game of the year.
Blair led all scorers, and Edwardson added eight points. Senior Tess Seierup had six points, and seniors Shelyane Greaves and Kathleen Reno had two each.
Fenumiai and Larson led Juneau with eight points each, and Brakes finished with seven.
JDHS will wrap up its season with a two-game series against Thunder Mountain in Juneau next weekend before heading to regions in Sitka March 2. There, the Crimson Bears are sure to meet the Kings at least twice - with the region's lone state tournament berth hanging in the balance.
"I wish we could take about two weeks off and both play in the state tournament," Smith said. "But (Southeast) is going to get a hell of a show."
Bears pull away late
Annette Highley scored 16 points, Taylor Larson added 11, and the Juneau-Douglas girls basketball team moved one step closer to securing the No. 1 seed at the 4A Southeast Conference tournament with a 48-41 win over Ketchikan on Friday at Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.
The Crimson Bears pulled away late in the tightly-contested affair, using a 5-2 run over the last 1:29 to hand the Kings (18-4, 5-2 Southeast) its first loss at home this season despite getting only two points from star wing Brittany Fenumiai.
"Ketchikan is always a mental game for our club," Juneau-Douglas coach Lesslie Knight said. "To come down here with a win is huge for us."
JDHS (17-2, 4-1) led 35-30 entering the fourth quarter, but Ketchikan senior Crystal Blair quickly cut the Crimson Bears' advantage to 35-32 with a steal and a lay-up. The Bears' Olivia Henderson answered with 3-pointer - her only points of the game - to make it 38-32, and that's where the score stayed until the Kings' Ciara Patton hit a free throw with 2:42 remaining.
Down by five with only three team fouls, Ketchikan coach Kelly Smith told the Kings to start sending the Crimson Bears to the free throw line.
Juneau-Douglas junior point guard Karli Brakes hit a pair of free throws to up the lead to 40-33, but Ketchikan senior Tess Seierup followed with a layup. The Kings fouled senior guard Mahlet Tingley, and after she missed the front end of a one-and-one, Alexis Edwardson hit a driving lay-up to make it 40-37 with 2:07 remaining.
The Kings trapped Tingley along the baseline on the ensuing inbound pass, but couldn't hear Smith's instructions to stop fouling. Tingley went to the line and hit two free throws to put Juneau-Douglas up 42-37.
"There were two or three times that (fouling) put us back in the game," Smith said. "We had them trapped, a perfect trap on the baseline, and we bailed them out.
"I guarantee we learned a lot in the last three minutes."
Ketchikan got within four points at the 1:27 mark on a lay-up by Seierup, but Fenumiai answered with a pair of free throws and the Kings were undermined by uncharacteristic turnovers down the stretch.
"Today was just kind of off," Seierup said. "We should never have that many turnovers. ... We definitely didn't play our game."
Edwardson led Kayhi with 12 points, while Seierup finished with 11. Blair was in foul trouble for most of the game - shecommitted her third foul with 4:43 left in the first half - and scored nine points. Senior Ciara Patton had seven as Ketchikan got zero points from its bench.
Seierup struggled with foul trouble, too, and spent almost six minutes on the bench during the third quarter after picking up her fourth.
"Tess came out so aggressive, having a great start. Then a couple of fouls, and Crystal gets a couple early ... We've got faith in the bench, but we need Crystal's offense on the floor...," Smith said.
The Crimson Bears won despite getting only two points from Fenumiai, thanks to the efforts of Highley and Larson. Tingley finished with seven points.
Juneau-Douglas is now a virtual lock to secure the top seed at regions, even if the Crimson Bears lose to Kayhi in the second game of a two-game series Saturday. JDHS is 2-1 against the Kings this season, and holds a plus-14 point differential. The maximum number of points Kayhi can pick up Saturday is 10.
The Bears still have to beat Thunder Mountain next weekend to clinch the top spot, but the Falcons are still searching for their first win of the season.
"I would've been OK in the No. 2 seed because you get a warm-up game to get going," Knight said. "I think from a confidence point of view it's nice to be in the first seed, but I would've been OK in the second place as well."
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