The Kake High School boys basketball team repeated as Class 2A Southeast Conference champions Saturday with a 60-55 victory over defending state champion Yakutat at the Juneau-Douglas High School gymnasium.
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The Thunderbirds went 14-8 after one quarter and led the entire game for the win.
"We were underdogs, and we came to play," Kake coach Arthur Johnson said.
Although the Eagles were the tournament's top seed, the Thunderbirds received a huge night from Lance Doake.
The sophomore led Kake with 24 points, 19 of which came in the first half. He also drained five 3-pointers on the night.
"I'm a team player, but I can score when I have to," Doake said. "They told me to tonight."
Although Kake never relinquished their lead from the beginning of the game, Yakutat kept the game close with excellent play from Kyle Dierick. The senior led all scorers with 33 points.
Dierick, an All-Conference selection, was deadly from behind the arc. He nailed five 3-pointers on the night and cut the T-Birds' lead to five with 12.5 seconds left in regulation. Kake, however, held on for the win.
Kake went on a 7-0 run to begin the game, and then a 10-0 run midway through the first half, making the score 20-8. Doake hit a clutch 3-pointer that just barely beat the halftime buzzer, extending Kake's lead to 31-16.
Yakutat had some good looks at the basket early in the game but didn't get hot until the third quarter when Dierick found his stroke. Dierick scored 16 of his team's 23 points in the third quarter as Yakutat cut Kake's lead to 50-39.
"It would've been nice to come out hitting early," Yakutat coach Bert Adams said. "Kake shot really well early on."
Kake and Yakutat will now head to the state tournament. The Thunderbirds will face Tok in Anchorage while the Eagles will tangle with Galena on March 20 at Service High School.
Adams noted that his team should still feel proud of their Friday win over a tough Hoonah squad. Friday's 63-60 victory put the Eagles in the state tournament.
As for Kake, it hopes to find redemption at this year's state tournament. The Thunderbirds finished fifth in Anchorage last year as they lost two straight games after beating Tikigaq in the quarterfinals.
"These boys are hungry after what happened last year," Johnson said. "We're going to get a solid week of practice and go from there."
Kake captain and All-Conference selection Trevor Rostad said, "We played about as good as we could tonight, and I think we'll do good up at state this year."
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