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SITKA -- The Ketchikan High School girls basketball team still hasn't been honored with a banner for the Region V-Class 4A title it won last year. But now the Kings want to see two new banners in the rafters of their school gym.
Ketchikan won its second straight region title Friday with a 53-43 victory over the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears at Mount Edgecumbe High School's B.J. McGillis Gym. With the victory, the Kings qualified for the Class 4A state tournament March 22-24 at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena.
"This is really big, because we still don't have a banner up at KayHi yet for last year," Ketchikan senior guard-forward Cassie White said. "Now they need to put two up. I'd like to see them up before graduation, if not before state."
"This is great," Ketchikan senior guard Kelly Nausid said. "We've been playing together since we were in the third grade."
The Kings won the region's top seed and first-round bye over Juneau based on a point-differential tie-breaker when the two teams split their four regular-season games. In those meetings, Ketchikan won the Friday night game while Juneau came back to win on Saturday. The region championship game was played on Friday, and there will be no Saturday game for the Juneau girls, who ended the season with a 16-7 record. Ketchikan takes a 15-5 record to the state tournament after losing 55-43 in Saturday night's Southeast Championship game against Region V-3A champion Mount Edgecumbe.
Juneau took the early lead Friday, at 6-2 and 8-6 midway through the first quarter, but Ketchikan came back to take a 14-10 advantage at the end of the period. Ketchikan held its lead through the second quarter, taking a 27-24 lead into the halftime intermission. Juneau came back to tie the score at 29-29 midway through the third quarter, and only trailed by one, 31-30, with 2 minutes, 42 seconds left in the period. But Ketchikan closed out the period with a 9-0 run to take a 40-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
"We were just standing around on the wing and not moving," said Juneau junior forward-guard Kacie Murphy, who led the Crimson Bears with 18 points.
"We weren't being offensive-minded," Juneau senior forward Michael Kohan said. "We were standing around. On defense we were tentative. We had a lot of fouls."
Juneau closed to within five points three times in the fourth quarter -- 40-35, 42-37 and 44-39 -- but that was as close as the Crimson Bears got the rest of the game. Juneau was still within six points, 48-42, on a 3-pointer by Courtney Mason with 2:07 left to play but the Crimson Bears would only score one more point the rest of the game.
"Both teams played really hard," said Juneau junior center Hilary Rehfeld, who scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Crimson Bears.
"I was a little scared," Ketchikan senior center Johanna Johnson said of Juneau's attempts to close the gap. "Juneau always has a good effort. Yes, I did worry, but it was very brief because I knew we were going to win. I think we'll do really good up at state."
Juneau had a chance to make up some ground in the fourth quarter, but the Crimson Bears missed seven free throws late in the quarter. Ketchikan only made five of 13 free throws in the final period, while Juneau at least broke the .500 mark with an eight-for-15 effort.
"Free throws make the game," Kohan said. "We could have been better."
For the game, Juneau was 17 for 31 from the line while Ketchikan went 11 for 23.
"We all shot the same amount, I don't know why we're different," said Murphy, who was one of Juneau's bright spots from the line with an 11-for-13 performance. "I was hoping we'd start shooting more."
"Shooting free throws was a battle," Nausid said.
Ketchikan was led by White's 11 points, while Nausid added nine and the duo of Johnson and Anne Elliott each scored eight points for the Kings.
Ketchikan had six seniors on its roster playing key roles this season, while Juneau was reloading after losing six seniors last year. The Crimson Bears only had two seniors this year -- Kohan and point guard Courtney Mason.
"We lost six seniors last year, and no one really expected us to do much this year," Mason said. "I thought we were a better as a team than last year. They'll do good next year. It's always nice to be a part of a winning team. I can't complain."
"It was a good game to end with," Kohan said.
For now, all the younger Crimson Bears can do is look forward to next season.
"We're all going to be working really hard in the offseason," Rehfeld said.
"We're going to be awesome, I think, especially when our freshmen come along," Murphy said.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.
KINGS 53, CRIMSON BEARS 43
Saturday's Region V-Class 4A girls championship game from Mount Edgecumbe High School
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (43) -- Kari Parr 0 0-2 0, Suzanne Parr 0 0-0 0, Michael Kohan 1 4-6 6, Courtney Mason 1 1-2 4, Kendri Cesar 0 0-0 0, Anna Capacci 0 0-0 0, Amy Neussl 1 1-2 3, Kacie Murphy 3 11-13 18, Hilary Rehfeld 5 0-4 10, Danielle Larson 1 0-2 2, Jessica Hahnlen 0 0-0 0, Alida Bus 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 17-31 43.
KETCHIKAN (53) -- Anne Elliott 3 1-3 8, Cassie White 5 1-4 11, Danette Kahle 0 2-2 2, Amanda Kolanko 3 0-2 6, Kelly Nausid 2 4-5 9, Jonnae Ostrom 2 1-3 5, Johanna Johnson 4 0-2 8, Sarah Keene 0 0-0 0, Jodi Jakubek 0 0-0 0, Whitney Hofstedt 0 0-0 0, Deanna Hallman 1 2-2 4, Lindsey Bolling 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 11-23 53.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 10 14 6 13 -- 43
KETCHIKAN 14 13 13 13 -- 53
3-point goals -- Juneau-Douglas 2 (Mason 1, Murphy 1), Ketchikan 2 (Elliott 1, Nausid 1). Fouled out -- Juneau-Douglas 2 (Mason, Murphy), Ketchikan 3 (Elliott, Ostrom, Hallman). Technical fouls -- None. Total fouls -- Juneau-Douglas 24, Ketchikan 26.