It was more of a struggle than expected, but the Ketchikan High School girls basketball team earned a spot in today's Region V-Class 4A championship game with a 49-39 victory over the injury-riddled Sitka Wolves on Thursday night at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gym.
The Kings will play the regular-season region champion Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears in tonight's 7:30 p.m. championship game, and tonight's winner will claim the region's lone berth at the Class 4A state tournament next weekend in Anchorage. Juneau and two-time defending region tournament champion Ketchikan are tied for third place in this week's state basketball poll.
"I think we're ready," Ketchikan's Darcel Williams said after leading the Kings with 13 points on Thursday. "I really want to go to state. This was a good game to get our nerves out."
Ketchikan (17-4 overall) and Sitka (7-14 overall) played each other for the seventh time this season. The last four times the two teams played, Ketchikan won by large margins in the 65-35 range and Thursday's game had the potential to be another blowout since Sitka guard Kim Uddipa was sidelined with a broken hand and forward Sidney Wyman was playing on one of the worst cases of inflamed shin splints Sitka coach Rich Krupa said he's ever seen.
But after falling behind 16-7 in the first quarter, Sitka rallied to stay within striking distance for most of the rest of the game. The Wolves closed to within five points a couple of times in the second and third quarters and only trailed by six midway through the fourth quarter.
"To their credit, they played hard and they played tenacious defense," Ketchikan coach Doug Nausid said. "The last time we played, they slowed the game down like this."
"The last few times we saw them, they blew us out," added Krupa, who joked that he and Nausid had rooms at each other's houses because they've played each other so much. "But each time we played them a little bit differently. They're a good, physical team. I kind of wonder how we would have done with one less turnover, but I'm really pleased with our effort."
Ketchikan threatened to blow the game open early when forward Jonnae Ostrom scored eight of Ketchikan's first 12 points as the Kings took a 12-2 lead. But Sitka chipped back into the game as Ostrom and Anne Elliott both picked up their third fouls early in the second quarter.
Williams led Ketchikan in scoring, but Ostrom added 12 points and nine rebounds and Elliott had eight points and four steals. Ashley Hayward scored eight points, dished out four assists and made four steals for the Kings, while Deanna Hallman had five rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals.
"I was ready to win," Ostrom said. "I'd heard they'd had six practices since they got here, and we'd just had one. I wasn't worried, but I was aware of the score. It was all team, I was just the one who was open. I want it (another region title) pretty bad."
"This game helped us get used to the gym," Elliott said. "We were playing aggressive defense and we wanted to show everybody we were ready to play. We wanted to go and do our best."
Sitka was led by senior center Heather Hawk, who scored a career-high 10 points. Senior guard Mindy Jacoby added 10 points, while Wyman had nine and Kandi McGilton scored eight.
"We kind of knew what to expect," Hawk said. "They switched a few things around, like they threw some zone at us and they don't usually play that, but it seemed like they played the same. We really came together as a team. We had some crucial mistakes, but we played well. Kim's a real leader on the court for us and it would have been nice to have her, but the rest of us stepped up."
The Kings are hoping to defend their region tournament title in tonight's game, but this year Ketchikan is playing Juneau as the lower seed.
"I don't feel any pressure," Ostrom said.
"I do feel pressure," Elliott countered. "We both deserve to go to state."
"We're both ranked third this week?," Ostrom said. "That just shows they should take two teams from this region. Last year we both deserved to go, and the year before that, too."
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
KINGS 49, WOLVES 39
Thursday's Region V-4A girls game from JDHS
KETCHIKAN (49) -- Jodi Jakubek 0 0-0 0, Jonnae Ostrom 6 0-0 12, Deanna Hallman 1 2-3 4, Darcel Williams 6 0-0 13, Ashley Howard 4 0-0 8, Anne Elliott 1 6-12 8, Whitney Hofstedt 0 0-0 0, Tory Edwardson 0 0-0 0, Sarah Keene 1 2-2 4, Katie Coldeker 0 0-0 0, Maria Swaim 0 0-0 0, Tera DeLong 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 10-17 49.
SITKA (39) -- Chloe DeLong 1 0-0 2, Heather Hawk 4 2-4 10, Mindy Jacoby 5 0-0 10, Sidney Wyman 2 5-8 9, Chelsea Young 0 0-0 0, Alaina Brown 0 0-0 0, Kandi McGilton 1 6-6 8, Miranda Whitson 0 0-0 0, Ashley Norman 0 0-0 0, Joy Ribao 0 0-0 0, Emily Gluth 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 13-18 39.
KETCHIKAN 16 9 15 9 -- 49
SITKA 7 11 10 11 -- 39
3-point goals -- Ketchikan 1 (Williams 1), Sitka 0. Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- None. Total fouls -- Ketchikan 17, Sitka 13.