SITKA -- In all her years playing in the Region V-Class 3A girls basketball tournament, Haines High School senior forward Lisa Sele had never been on a winning team.
Until Wednesday, when Sele led the Glacier Bears to a 36-23 victory over the Wrangell Wolves in the region tournament opener at Mount Edgecumbe High School's B.J. McGillis Gym.
Guess the fourth year's a charm.
"I was nervous," Sele said. "I really want to go to state, and this is my last year to try."
Sele, who led Haines with 14 points, is the only senior for the Glacier Bears, who also play two juniors and one freshman amongst a host of sophomores. Penny Fossman, a junior guard, had been there for most of Sele's disappointing regional ride and she also felt the frustration.
Haines will still have to get past Metlakatla in today's noon semifinal before it can play Mount Edgecumbe in Saturday's 3:30 p.m. championship game. Mount Edgecumbe, which is going for its third straight region title, had a bye Wednesday and will play Petersburg in today's 7:15 p.m. semifinal. Petersburg beat Craig 62-38 in Wednesday's other Region V-3A girls first-round game. Wrangell, which took second to Mount Edgecumbe in last year's region tournament and beat Mount Edgecumbe to take fourth place at state, will play Craig in Friday's 8:30 a.m. fifth-sixth place game.
The Glacier Bears (7-14 overall) and the Wolves (3-16) played each other close through the first half, with several lead changes before Kaelene Wilson put Wrangell up 9-7 with a 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter.
The two teams continued to swap leads before Haines took a 19-15 lead at halftime. But as the teams went to their benches before the break Wrangell's Laura McCay suddenly dropped to the floor, screaming in pain. Someone (McCay said she wasn't sure who) accidentally stepped on the back of McCay's shoe and her ankle rolled, sidelining her for the rest of the game. McCay went to the hospital after the game, but Wrangell coach Tami Meissner said it didn't appear McCay's ankle was broken but the doctors were still taking x-rays when she returned to the gym.
Without McCay, Wrangell struggled offensively in the second half. Haines led 21-17 midway through the third quarter, then went on a 10-0 run that lasted until early in the fourth quarter when Wilson hit a pair of free throws. Wilson, who led the Wolves in scoring with 10 points, fouled out with 4 minutes, 14 seconds left in the game and her team down 31-21. McCay, even though she didn't play in the second half, ended up as Wrangell's second-leading scorer with five points.
Vikings 62, Panthers 38
Amber Beardslee scored 30 points as the Petersburg girls knocked off Craig in Wednesday's other first-round game.
Petersburg (11-9 overall) came out gunning in the first quarter, as the Vikings jumped out to a 22-2 first-quarter lead as the Panthers (7-12) struggled to bring the ball up the court against Petersburg's defense. Petersburg forced several turnovers, which quickly became points on the other end as the Vikings scored off the transition game. Beardslee had 11 of Petersburg's 22 points in the first quarter.
Tyna McCay scored 12 points for Petersburg, which will play two-time defending region champion Mount Edgecumbe in today's 7:15 p.m. semifinal, a game several coaches think should be the championship match up.
Heather Douville scored 20 points to lead the Panthers, while Meggie Haydu added 11. Craig will play Wrangell in Friday's 8:30 a.m. fifth-sixth place game.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.