KETCHIKAN - When the Ketchikan boys basketball team found itself trailing the Sitka Wolves after three quarters of Thursday's Region V-Class 4A boys tournament opener, Kings senior Calin Bjur dredged up some bad memories.
Two years ago, Bjur and Ketchikan were knocked out of the tourney in the opening game by the Wolves, and Bjur remembered what that felt like.
"I didn't want to do that again," he said.
The Kings came out strong in the fourth quarter and edged the Wolves, 42-39, to advance to tonight's championship game against the top-seeded Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears.
"They played a really good game; they like to slow it down," Bjur said of Sitka in the first half. "But we came out strong in the second half. We played tough defense; you've got to do that to win."
Bjur led Kayhi with a game-high 14 points, while Nate Norton chipped in nine. Sitka's top scorer was Karl Stedman, with 11 points.
The Kings (9-13 overall, 4-4 region) and Wolves (10-14, 1-7) stayed close throughout the game, with Sitka taking a two-point edge at the half, 24-22, when Mitch Hawk put back an offensive rebound just before the buzzer. The Wolves led 35-32 after three periods.
But Ketchikan's defense dominated in the final quarter, folding Sitka without a field goal in the period. The Wolves scored just four points in the fourth, all on free throws, but missed nearly half of their attempts.
Meanwhile, Bjur scored six in the period, including a basket with just over a minute to go that broke a 38-38 tie.
Trailing 42-39, Sitka had one last chance to tie the game when they inbounded with 8.1 seconds to go. But Stedman was forced to step backwards and out of bounds in the left corner with just 2.2 seconds left, which gave Kayhi possession and the win.
"I don't care how you win - you just have to win," Ketchikan coach John Brown said after the game.
Sitka coach Mike Blewett said cold shooting doomed the Wolves.
"We followed our game plan to a T," Blewett said. "We were patient (on offense) and rebounded, but we just missed too many shots we should have made. ...
"In the end, it boiled down to shooting."
Brown said the Kings cannot afford to start out slow in tonight's 9:15 p.m. championship game against Juneau.
"We're going to have to play a different ballgame," he said. "We do well when we come out strong from the beginning."
Juneau coach George Houston said he is going to emphasize Ketchikan's strong fourth-quarter effort when he prepares the team for tonight's game.
"They're going to come out at the beginning and play that way against us," he said.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at email@example.com.
KINGS 42, WOLVES 39
Thursday's Region V-4A boys semifinal from Ketchikan
SITKA (39) - Karel Uddipa 3 1-2 8, George Howard 1 2-2 4, Mark Manuel 0 0-0 0, Karl Stedman 4 3-4 11, Antwan Wilmont 0 0-1 0, Mitch Hawk 3 0-2 6, Andrew Broschat 1 0-0 2, Carrington Gorman 0 0-0 0, Cody Campbell 3 2-2 8. Totals: 15 8-13 39.
KETCHIKAN (42) - Brendan Mix 0 0-0 0, Anders Farstad 0 0-0 0, Derek Clark 0 0-0 0, Casey Bass 2 0-0 4, Josh Henrick 0 0-0 0, Bob Boyd 2 3-7 7, Will Montgomery 1 0-0 2, Calin Bjur 6 2-3 14, Nate Norton 2 5-6 9, Tyler Richardson 3 0-0 6. Totals: 16 10-16 42.
SITKA 16 8 11 4 - 39
KETCHIKAN 18 4 10 10 - 42
3-point goals - Sitka 1 (Uddipa 1), Ketchikan 0. Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Sitka 17, Ketchikan 15.