Mark Woodward's first act as Lady Kings girls basketball coach last summer was pointing to the team's most recent Southeast Conference championship banner from 2001 and asking his players when, exactly, was the last time they beat the Crimson Bears.
His girls got the message loud and clear.
Ketchikan will finally raise another banner and head to the state tournament in Anchorage March 19-21 after crawling out of an early hole and dominating the final three quarters of a 49-36 win over Juneau-Douglas Friday night.
The Crimson Bears appeared poised to close out the best-of-three 4A Southeast Conference Championship Series in the first quarter, jumping out to a 12-0 lead in the opening four and a half minutes. KayHi point guard Laci Effenberger finally put her team on the board by hitting one of two free throws with 3:30 to play, though, and layups from Alexis Edwardson and Kathleen Reno eventually pulled the Lady Kings within 12-5 at period's end.
A 13-3 Ketchikan run stretched into the second quarter, broken only by an old-fashioned three-point play from JDHS junior Annette Highley. The KayHi momentum finally pulled the score even at 19-19 with 1:19 left in the half on a free throw from Ciara Patton. A three-point play from Blair capped the scoring twenty seconds later and gave the Lady Kings an improbable 22-19 lead at the break.
Strong bench play from junior guard Mahlet Tingley and sophomore post Hannah Swofford helped keep the Bears close early in the third. The KayHi lead slowly grew, though, as a physical game in the paint began to turn their way. A strong layup from Swofford pulled JDHS within six with just more than a minute to play in the period, but Effenberger immediately answered with a three-pointer to give the Kings a 34-25 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
Highley broke a scoreless opening two minutes of the fourth for both teams on a short jumper, but Effenberger again answered with a deep three-pointer to key an 11-0 KayHi run. Tingley broke the Bears' nearly three-minute scoreless streak with a triple to pull her team within 45-30, but Juneau-Douglas would never pull closer than 15 until junior Brittany Fenumiai connected on a three-pointer in the final seconds.
Ketchikan eventually outscored JDHS 49-24 after the Bears took their opening 12-0 lead.