SITKA - The pro-Ketchikan crowd - delirious with joy - cheered for every score by the Kayhi boys, delighted in every Juneau misstep and stormed the court at the final buzzer.
But the Ketchikan boys basketball team - while excited - was relatively cool and composed after a convincing 72-52 win over Juneau-Douglas in Friday night's Region V-Class 4A boys championship game at Mount Edgecumbe High School.
It was the Kings' first region title - and first state tournament berth - in 15 years. But all season long, they expected to make history.
"It was our goal from the beginning of the season," Ketchikan coach Doug Nausid said. "We never thought about not winning it."
The Kings used a powerful inside game - led by senior Nate Norton (26 points) and junior Tyler Richardson (19 points) - to overwhelm the Crimson Bears.
"We just know that when we step up inside, we're going to dominate," Richardson said.
"Norton and Richardson, they had 26 out of their 35 (points) in the first half," Juneau coach George Houston said. "They took it to us inside and we didn't have an answer for it. ...
"We tried. We did not quit. We competed to the bitter end. Adam (Nelson) was doing what he could, and Josh (Monagle) was working his tail off inside. We just didn't stop them enough."
Monagle, a sophomore center, scored the first two points of the game, and Juneau took a 7-6 lead - its last - on a 3-pointer by Nelson, a senior forward, with 4:25 to play in the first quarter.
But Ketchikan kept pace with points from the paint, and junior Jesse LeBeau completed a four-point play to make the score 14-8 Ketchikan with three minutes left in the period - one of several plays that put the momentum of the game firmly in Kayhi's corner.
In the second quarter, the Crimson Bears narrowed the Kings' lead to 25-22 when junior Kyle Huntsman - showing some fearless play inside - put in a layup on his third try. But at the end of the period, after a missed Juneau shot with five seconds to play, Richardson ran up the court and sank a jumper from the free-throw line at the buzzer to make it 35-26 Kings.
"Once that shot was hit at the halftime buzzer, it just multiplied (our intensity)," Richardson said. "That was a big thing for us."
Juneau closed its deficit to seven points - 44-37 - when Monagle scored two of his team-high 21 points with 2:50 left in the third quarter. But the Crimson Bears could not come any closer, despite several Ketchikan turnovers.
"In the second half we did a lot better, but we didn't capitalize on the opportunities we had," said Nelson, who had three steals in the final two quarters. "They were turning the ball over, but we weren't doing anything with it."
In the fourth quarter, Ketchikan extended its lead. Junior Casey Bass stole a Juneau inbounds pass with 3:59 to play and converted the layup to make it 60-46 Kings.
When Juneau's Larry Cooper fouled out with 1:45 to play, sections of B.J. McGillis Gymnasium with Ketchikan fans formed a chorus of "Na-na-na-na, hey, hey, hey, good-bye," which continued as the clock wound down. Ketchikan cheerleaders and fans, sitting opposite the Kayhi bench, emptied on to the floor as the game ended and formed a jumping, cheering mob on the court that settled down as the players cut down the net.
"It's really exciting for us because it's been so many years since we won Southeast," LeBeau said. About Juneau, he said that with the Crimson Bears "missing a few players, they came out with a lot of heart and made a run."
Derek Clark added 14 points and LeBeau scored seven points for the Kings (15-11 overall).
With the win, Ketchikan advances to the state tournament at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, which starts Thursday. Brackets will be announced in the next few days.
The King boys last played at state in 1989; the Kayhi girls last reached state in 2001.
Nelson and Huntsman added nine points for Juneau (12-11 overall), which had won the last two region titles and 12 of the last 14.
Junior Tom Derbesy said the Crimson Bears - despite some early jitters - gave their all on Friday.
"I think we played hard. The effort was there," he said. "We just didn't make some shots and didn't make some defensive stops when we needed to."
The loss meant that top-seeded Juneau was one-and-out at the region tournament. Friday's game was the last for seniors Nelson and Rob Carte.
"Their senior year didn't end as we had hoped when we started," Houston said. "It's disappointing to them, to me, that we couldn't do more. ...
"They did everything I asked of them, and provided leadership to the younger guys."
The Crimson Bears look to regroup for next season to make a run at the region tournament, which will be held in Juneau.
"When one season ends, the next begins," Houston said. "The next season begins right now. Southeast is at our place, and we have to make sure we do everything we can to compete."
"It was a good experience for all of us guys who will be back next year," Derbesy said of Friday's game. "It was a good big game for us to play in. It's like Coach said, offseason just started for next year."
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
REGION V TOURNAMENT
CLASS 4A BOYS
KINGS 72, CRIMSON BEARS 52
Friday's Region V-Class 4A tournament boys championship game from Mount Edgecumbe High School
KETCHIKAN (72) - Sean Maynard 0 0-0 0, Nate Norton 10 5-7 26, John Steward 0 0-0 0, Andrew Kolanko 0 0-0 0, Tyler Richardson 8 2-2 19, Jesse LeBeau 1 4-5 7, Derek Clark 4 6-7 14, Casey Bass 1 0-1 2, Mike Meacock 0 0-0 0, Charles Altman 0 0-0 0, Matt Boyd 0 2-2 2, Thomas Montgomery 1 0-0 2. Totals: 25 19-24 72.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (52) - Larry Cooper 1 0-0 3, Norman Zura 0 0-0 0, Scott Lesh 2 0-0 4, Tom Derbesy 0 3-4 3, Tres Saldivar 0 1-2 1, Luke Miller 0 0-0 0, Rob Carte 0 0-0 0, Mychal Hutcherson 1 0-0 2, Josh Monagle 9 3-4 21, Kyle Huntsman 4 0-2 9, Andrew Capacci 0 0-0 0, Adam Nelson 4 0-0 9. Totals: 21 7-12 52.
KETCHIKAN 15 20 15 22 - 72
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 12 14 13 13 - 52
3-point goals - Ketchikan 3 (Norton 1, Richardson 1, LeBeau 1), Juneau-Douglas 3 (Cooper 1, Huntsman 1, Nelson 1). Fouled out - Ketchikan 0, Juneau-Douglas 1 (Cooper). Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Ketchikan 18, Juneau-Douglas 21.
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