Melanie Beans has been a guard on the Mount Edgecumbe High School girls basketball team for four years now, and Friday she made sure she'd never know what it means to not have her team be the Region V-Class 3A champion.
Beans scored 21 points as the Braves won their fourth straight region title with a 55-48 victory over the Petersburg Vikings on Friday afternoon at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gym. Both teams will head to the Class 3A state tournament this weekend at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena.
"This feels great," Beans said after getting a quick hug from her mother while her teammates finished up the traditional ceremony of cutting down the net (Beans took the first snip). "I'm so happy to go all four years as champions."
In Friday's other games, Craig held off a late rally by Haines to claim third place with a 61-60 victory and Metlakatla rallied in the fourth quarter to top Wrangell 37-33 for fifth place.
Mount Edgecumbe (19-5 overall) is the No. 3 team in this week's Class 3A state basketball poll, but unranked Petersburg (14-9 overall) took the Braves down to the wire.
Mount Edgecumbe led nearly the entire game, and took a couple of 10-point leads early in the fourth quarter when senior guard Prema Warren hit a pair of 3-pointers. But Petersburg closed to within four points at 52-48 with 17.4 seconds left. The Vikings could have made the game even closer, but Petersburg missed four straight free throws in the game's final minute.
"Those 3-pointers right in a row really hurt us," said Petersburg's Karna Williams, who led the Vikings with 12 points and five rebounds. "Those free throws also hurt us, and put us in a position where we had to foul."
While Beans has only known success at Mount Edgecumbe, Williams has known nothing but frustration against the Braves. Williams, a senior forward, said she's now 0-20 in her career against Mount Edgecumbe. The last three times Petersburg played Mount Edgecumbe in the regular season, Petersburg led in the fourth quarter of all three games and lost by a combined 10 points.
"We've been closer," Williams said. "I hope we meet again at state. It's got to end sometime."
Mount Edgecumbe took a 14-8 lead in the first quarter as Beans hit a pair of 3-pointers. Petersburg closed to within 20-16 at halftime, but the Braves made it 33-27 entering the fourth quarter as Petersburg struggled with foul trouble and turnovers.
"We knew we had to encourage each other," Beans said. "Hitting those 3s pumped us upand gave us confidence. I feel pretty good about the way we played. We had the lead and that was able to keep us poised and being strong."
"It was great," Warren said. "It gave us a lift. We weren't worried."
Besides her 21 points, the 5-foot-1 Beans also grabbed seven rebounds, made two steals and had three assists. Warren, who also goes about 5-1, had 13 points, while Mount Edgecumbe's 6-foot center Ella Morris scored 10 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. Meredith Akaran added seven points and nine rebounds, while Bernadine Keyes had six boards for the smaller Braves, who outrebounded Petersburg 40-36.
"At first we kind of weren't playing as strong as we can," Akaran said.
In addition to Williams's 12 points, Petersburg picked up 10 points from Krista Birchell, nine from Autumn Streuli and eight from Kayleigh Short. Petersburg was nine for 16 from the free throw line, while Mount Edgecumbe made 23 of 43 shots.
"I thought both teams came to play," said Petersburg coach Dino Brock, who added that his team didn't miss four free throws in its first two tournament games. "It was two good teams going at it, and it was a close game. I think we'll do OK at state."
Panthers 61, Glacier Bears 60
Heather Douville hit the game-clinching free throw as Craig held off a fourth-quarter rally by Haines to claim third place in the Region V-Class 3A tournament on Friday afternoon.
Vanessa James scored 22 points and hit six 3-pointers to lead No. 5 Craig (16-6 overall), while Douville added 20 points and Jerian Kampnich scored 11 points with three 3-pointers.
Lori Sele led Haines (6-15 overall) with 21 points, while Keely Falcon added 18 and Amy Gross scored 13. Haines trailed 51-39 entering the fourth quarter, but the Glacier Bears outscored the Panthers 21-10 in the quarter to make the game close at the end.
Misschiefs 37, Wolves 33
Danann Blandov scored nine of her game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter as Metlakatla rallied to claim a victory over Wrangell in the fifth-place game of the Region V-Class 3A tournament Friday morning.
Wrangell led 28-26 entering the fourth quarter, but Blandov scored all but two of her team's points in the period as the Misschiefs rallied for the victory. Kristy Didrickson added 15 points for Metlakatla (6-16 overall).
Laura McCay scored 11 points to lead Wrangell (3-19 overall), while Dena Kautz added 10.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.