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It was clear Thursday afternoon Ketchikan wanted another shot at No. 1 seed Juneau-Douglas on Friday.
The Kings went on a 13-2 run midway through the second quarter that pushed the lead out to 14 points, and Ketchikan held off the Falcons every time they threatened to win 68-47 and eliminate Thunder Mountain from the 4A boys’ side of the 2011 Region V 3A/4A Basketball Tournament.
Ketchikan went to Jesse Lindgren early and often, and the Falcons didn’t seem to have an answer. The Kings’ senior scored seven straight points during the second-quarter run on his way to 22 points on the game to lead all scorers.
“Lindgren got established early. He started knocking down outside shots, which we didn’t expect,” Falcons coach John Blasco said. “I respect that he was able to do that, but they were more aggessive. We came out fired up in the first quarter but the second quarter got us again.”
Senior John Correa said it was a tough way to go out in his final game as a Falcon, but Ketchikan deserved credit.
“Ketchikan came to play and a lot of guys stepped up and did things they don’t usually do,” he said. “They played great and we just couldn’t match them tonight.”
And while the season had some rough patches throughout, Correa said it was a great year.
“I’ve played under a lot of different numbers on a lot of different teams for a lot of different coaches, and this is by far the best experience I’ve ever had,” he said. “Coach Blasco is the best coach I’ve ever had and I love this team. I wouldn’t change any of it for a thing.”
The Falcons battled Ketchikan to the end Tuesday night, falling just short of a tie when sophomore Keith Ainsworth’s 3-point attempt missed at the buzzer. But the Kings weren’t interested in any drama on Thursday. Thunder Mountain never got within eight points the rest of the game following the Kings’ backbreaking second-quarter surge.
Ainsworth was big for the Falcons early again in this game, scoring 11 points in the first half. But the Thunder Mountain swingman managed only two points in the entire second half as the Falcons’ offense sputtered at times. Even when TMHS was able to cut a 16-point second-half deficit to eight points early in the fourth quarter, Ketchikan’s experience was too much for the youthful Falcons.
“The guys were a little looser today. I think I’ve probably over-coached them the last couple of days and tried to give them too much when, in fact, they’re a pretty good team with some pretty good ball players,” Kings coach Eric Stockhausen said. “I just let them go out and we lightened up. The floodgates opened and we were able to go have fun.”
The Kings quelled any Thunder Mountain threat in the second half by getting inside for easy buckets and getting to the line, where Ketchikan shot an outstanding 22-25 one night after going 8-19 from the charity stripe against Juneau-Douglas.
“I’m really pleased our guys went 22-25 from the line since we’ve been abysmal (from the line) for the last three games,” Stockhausen said. “But you either do it or you don’t, and our kids are smart enough to get that.”
“They built a lead and coach Stockhausen did a great job rotating his guys so that his top four (players) were fresh in the second half,” Blasco said. “It’s tough to be down by nine and know you have to play their top four guys when they’re fresh — It’s smart coaching.”
The Falcons have encountered similar problems all year, and Blasco said he hopes his young players can learn from experiences like this one.
“That’s been a tough thing for us this year. When we get down some and try to make a run, we’re not making the run on both ends. By that I mean offensively scoring, defensively stopping,” he said. “They get got several and-1’s, and that gives them a lot of momentum.
“They hit their free throws (Thursday) and played a very solid game from the get-go,” he continued. “That’s a quality team.”