SITKA - The Yakutat boys basketball team had a three-week break between regular-season and postseason games.
There was no rust in sight Thursday as the Eagles opened the Southeast Conference-Class 2A Tournament with an 82-36 rout of Angoon.
Kyle Dierick scored 20 points to lead five Yakutat players in double-figure scoring in the game, held in cavernous B.J. McGillis Gymnasium - a converted aircraft hanger - at Mount Edgecumbe High School.
"We played really good team ball," Yakutat senior Ben Dunbar said. "We had really good chemistry on offense and defense."
Yakutat advances to play Hoonah in a semifinal game at 8:30 p.m. tonight. Top-ranked Kake will play Thorne Bay in the other semifinal, at 4:45 p.m. today. The winners of those two games advance to the region final on Saturday, and they'll claim the two state tournament berths given to Southeast teams.
From the start Thursday, Yakutat moved the ball quickly down the court and - more often than not - made their shots. The Yakutat Eagles led Angoon - also the Eagles - 45-19 at halftime and 70-29 after three quarters.
Jay Sin added 17 points and Dunbar scored 13 - including three 3-pointers - for Yakutat (15-7 overall), which also got 12 points apiece from Sam Ferguson and Jack Klushkan.
A half-dozen Yakutat players have led the team in scoring during games this season.
"We've never had the same player lead us in scoring in back-to-back games," Yakutat coach Bert Adams said. "That's what's really (great) about this team. They work hard, and they're unselfish. They look out for each other on the court."
The Eagles also are young, with just one senior - Dunbar -and two juniors. To keep the team focused during its long break before the tournament, Adams had his players scrimmage Yakutat's Gold Medal Tournament B Bracket team.
Prior to Thursday's game, Yakutat's last games were a pair of losses - 80-63 and 64-61- at Hoonah on Feb. 16-17. The Eagles and Braves will meet again today, with the winner advancing to the region final and claiming a state tourney berths. The loser won't get past the regional level.
"They're a more skilled team, so we're going to have to step it up on both sides of the court - bring it up another level," Dunbar said of Hoonah.
Adams said his post players, who picked up early fouls against Angoon, will have to avoid doing the same against Hoonah.
Adam Johnson scored 26 points - more than 70 percent of his team's output - on Thursday for Angoon (5-12 overall), which has struggled to keep a full team all season due to eligibility issues.
Angoon coach Ben Johnson, who stepped into the team's coaching vacancy a month into the season, said his players were not mentally in the game against Yakutat.
"They're a great team - fast," Johnson said of Yakutat.
Wolverines 45, Panthers 35
Jesse Grant scored 14 points, including 7-for-8 free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter, as the Thorne Bay boys basketball team held off Skagway 45-35 on Thursday at the Southeast-Class 2A tournament in Sitka.
Gerald Carl added 11 points and Casey McDougal scored 10 for Thorne Bay (6-10 overall), which led 30-23 at halftime. The Wolverines' advantage was trimmed to three - 34-31 - after three quarters after Skagway's Trevor Cochran hit a 3-pointer late in the period.
But the Panthers were unable to draw closer. Cochran, who scored a game-high 16 points for Skagway (4-17 overall), fouled out and the Panthers missed some key free throws. John McCluskey added eight points for Skagway, while Jacob Henrickson added seven.
Thorne Bay advances to play top-ranked Kake today, while Skagway will have a bye in today's consolation round.
Braves 78, Chieftains 32
Every Hoonah player scored Thursday as the Braves beat Klawock 78-32 in their Southeast-Class 2A tourney first-round game.
Dustin Bowen led the way with 13 points for Hoonah (20-3 overall), while Michael Koenig added 12 and David Lindstrom and Killian Skaflestad had eight apiece.
Klawock managed to stay close in the first quarter - the Chieftains led 8-3 at one point - before Hoonah took over in the second quarter. The Braves led 34-12 at halftime.
Christopher Stockton scored seven points and Rafael Ramirez added six to lead winless Klawock (0-15 overall).
Hoonah takes on Yakutat tonight in the region tourney semifinals, while Klawock will play Angoon in the consolation round.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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