The Sitka Wolves' gameplan heading into Thursday's Region V-Class 4A playoff game was to shut down Ketchikan standouts Russell Miller and Jesse Richardson.
But Sitka's extra attention paid to Miller and Richardson left Ketchikan's Calin Bjur open to score 23 points and lead the Ketchikan Kings to a 70-65 victory, advancing them into tonight's final against the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears.
"We didn't want Jesse and Russell to score on us, and for the most part we did the job," Sitka head coach Bob Potrzuski said. "Ketchikan played well and they had a couple more offensive weapons than we did. Tyler Richardson got us early and Bjur got us late."
Tyler Richardson, a 6-foot-4-inch freshman, picked up the early slack for the Kings (15-8) who struggled against Sitka's first-half defensive pressure, scoring eight of his 12 points in the first half.
"Calin and Tyler really stepped up," Ketchikan head coach John Brown said. "Tyler's going to be a great player and our seniors showed some real good leadership."
But Sitka's Colin Kambak overshadowed everyone's performance in the first half, scoring 21 points in the half and leading the Wolves (9-14) to a 37-29 halftime lead. Kambak carried Sitka, scoring inside and out with slashing drives and jump shots, including a pair of 3-pointers.
"Kambak had a great game," Brown said. "He really shot the lights out."
The Kings stepped up the pressure in the second half and Jesse Richardson, who was held to just three first-half points, started to heat up as Ketchikan chipped away at the lead. Ketchikan tied the game at 45 with two minutes remaining in the third and took the lead for good with 34 seconds left on a drive by Jesse Richardson, putting the Kings up 49-47.
Ketchikan slowly expanded its lead to as much as 65-56 with 1:16 remaining before Sitka made a late but futile charge. Jesse Richardson finished with 16 points while Miller was held to just two points.
"I thought we showed some good poise down the stretch," Brown said. "It's what you gotta do -- you gotta win. Sitka played tough."
Kambak was not the factor he was in the first half as Ketchikan held him to eight points in the second. He finished with a game-high 29 points while teammate Karel Uddipa scored 11 and Karl Stedman and Mitch Hawk each contributed eight points.
"We played a good game," Kambak said. "Our team came out with a lot of intensity. You can't be mad when you play your best."
"We started with these guys (Ketchikan) in January and lost by 30 points," Potrzuski said. "We're a young group with a lot of juniors and sophomores. We lose Kambak, but mostly everyone will be back next year."
Sitka was 1-4 against Ketchikan this year and will wind out its 2001-02 campaign with a crossover game on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. against the loser of the 3A championship game between Metlakatla and Craig.
The Region V-Class 4A championship between Ketchikan and Juneau starts at 9:15 at the JDHS gymnasium. The Kings are winless in four games against the Crimson Bears this season.
"Look at what happened to Wrangell," Brown said. "That's why you play the game. There are some things we have to do. Hopefully, we can handle the pressure."
Jeff Kasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kings 70, Wolves 65
Thursday's Region V-4A boys game at JDHS
Ketchikan (70) -- Russell Miller 1 0-0 2, Braden Sharp 2 2-2 6, Brian Updike 0 0-0 0, Bob Boyd 1 1-3 3, William Montgomery 1 2-4 5, Casey Bass 0 0-0 0, Calin Bjur 10 3-4 23, John Steward 0 0-0 0, Jesse Richardson 6 4-4 16, Josh Robinson 0 0-0 0, Shaun Phillips 1 0-0 3, Tyler Richardson 4 4-4 12. Total 26 16-21 70.
Sikta (65) -- Karel Uddipa 5 1-2 11, Karl Stedman 4 0-1 8, Cody Campbell 3 1-3 7, Colin Kambak 11 5-7 29, Elgin Hollins 0 0-0 0, Tristen Hansen 0 0-0 0, Dalton Bergman 1 0-0 2, Ryan Robidou 0 0-0 0, Dennis Houston 0 0-0 0, George Howard 0 0-0 0, Anthony Haskins 0 0-0 0, Mitch Hawk 4 0-0 8. Totals: 28 7-13 65.
Ketchikan 11 18 20 21 -- 70
Sikta 14 23 12 16 -- 65
3-point goals -- Ketchikan 2 (Montgomery, Phillips), Sikta 2 (Kambak 2). Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- Ketchikan (bench). Total fouls -- Ketchikan 13, Sitka 21.