KETCHIKAN On a day that began with excitement in the form of a wicked snowstorm that made getting to the Region V basketball tournament an adventure, the Wrangell and Mount Edgecumbe boys provided a perfect nightcap.
The Wolves and Braves tussled in a low-scoring but high-energy game that went back and forth right up to the end before Wrangell emerged with a 42-39 victory.
"Throughout the season it's been tough," said Wrangell senior Tony Marriott, whose squad brought a 4-15 overall record into this year's tourney after being a top seed last season.
"We were the underdogs this year. We're hoping to be the spoilers."
Wrangell (5-15 overall, 4-13 region) advances to face Craig today; Mount Edgecumbe (14-7, 9-7) will face Haines in a consolation game on Friday.
Trailing 39-37 with under two minutes to go in the game, Wrangell's Jeremy Stolley sank a 3-pointer to put the Wolves up by one. Wrangell then played a game of keep-away until Stolley was fouled with 21 seconds left.
Stolley missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Mount Edgecumbe rebounded. At the other end of the court, with the score still 40-39 in Wrangell's favor, Mount Edgecumbe's Alan Ticket was fouled with 6.1 seconds left.
Ticket missed the first shot of his one-and-one opportunity, and in the fight for the rebound Marriott was fouled. He sank both free throws to put Wrangell up by three with 2.1 seconds to go.
A last-chance 3-point try by the Braves' Matthew Mercier would not fall, and the Wrangell bench erupted in celebration of the win.
The excitement of the game was heightened by the frenetic cheering of large fan contingents from both Wrangell and Mount Edgecumbe; their cheers reverbrated through the gym.
Marriott said he was able to tune out the ruckus as he stood on the free-throw line for his two late shots to give Wrangell a three-point lead.
"I couldn't hear anybody or anything," he said. "I was thinking about what to do after the shot."
Marriott led Wrangell with 12 points; Greg Wilson added 10.
"It was a good win for us," Wrangell coach Ray Stokes said. "We didn't shoot the ball worth a darn ... but the thing I was proud of was that they hung in there."
Mount Edgecumbe was led by 14 points including four 3-pointers from Matthew Mercier, while Ticket chipped in 12. Braves coach Archie Young said he was proud of his team's performance.
"I almost feel like we won," he said. "The boys did everything I asked them to do. If they had done differently we wouldn't have been in the game."
The game was close throughout, with Mount Edgecumbe holding a 15-13 lead at the half. Wrangell led 31-27 after the third quarter and held on for the win.
Metlakatla 74, Haines 52
Chris Bryant scored 21 points and his Metlakatla team hit 27 of 37 free-throw attempts as they defeated Haines on Wednesday.
Shane Martinez added 14 points and Beau Hayward 12 for the Braves.
Haines was led by Tim Kaloostian's 16 points. He scored 11 of those in the first quarter before running into foul trouble. The Glacier Bears also got 12 points from Chad Stigen.
Haines led 20-14 after the first quarter, but the Chiefs spurred on by a large and vocal Metlakatla fan contingent ran away with the game with a 27-point third quarter.
"We came out a little jittery," Bryant said, "but it was hustle plays by my teammates that got us going."
The Braves hit seven 3-pointers in the game, including five in the third period.
"Metlakatla is a pretty tough team," Haines coach Greg Stigen said. "Those guys can put it in from pretty much anywhere."
Metlakatla will play Petersburg today. Haines faces Mount Edgecumbe on Friday.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.