Mt. Edgecumbe rallied from an early deficit and cruised to a 72-57 win over archrival Sitka on Friday in the 3A boys’ bracket championship game of the Region V 3A/4A Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School.
Junior Travante Williams led the Braves to victory after scoring 26 points, but Williams credited the Mt. Edgecumbe defense.
“It was a team game and we all played hard,” he said. “We all wanted this a lot. Our defense and intensity is what brought it all together and helped us out. (Going to state) is a big opportunity for us, and we really want it. We’ve just got to go back to the office and keep working hard.”
“When you win by a larger margin, it definitely helps the blood pressure,” Mt. Edgecumbe coach Archie Young added. “It was typical for us. We play well in spurts and then we kind of lost our focus a little bit. When we’re focused and we play well, we’re pretty good.”
Sitka held the early advantage but a baseline jumper by Jaylin Prince gave Mt. Edgecumbe its first lead at 13-12, and the Braves led 18-14 after a quarter.
Things got sloppy in the second quarter.
Sitka scored the first basket of the second but Mt. Edgecumbe scored the next six points as the Wolves went cold from the field. The Braves pulled ahead 27-17 with less than two minutes left in the first half after three free throws, but a Mik Potrzuski steal and pull-up leaner in the lane and a Cole Venneberg 3-pointer before the buzzer cut the deficit to 5, 27-22, heading into the halftime.
Sitka tied the game at 27 and a Luke Clayton 3-pointer knotted things up again at 32-32.
But a 7-0 run keyed by a couple of steals pushed the Braves up 39-32, and it was all Mt. Edgecumbe the rest of the way. The Braves led by 10, 53-43, heading into the fourth quarter and took its biggest lead of 17 points late in the game after three straight free throws.
Williams said the key for Mt. Edgecumbe’s run through the second half was its defensu intensity.
Williams led all scorers with 26 points. Zach Ivanoff scored 14 and Savion Waters 12.
Cole Venneberg led Sitka with 13 points, followed by Devan Romine with 12 and Luke Clayton with 10.
Young said the team was ready for a tough 3A state tournament run.
“The state tournament is going to be brutal. The 3A teams this year are very good,” he said. “Whoever wins up there is going to earn it. There are going to be eight very good teams up there.”