SITKA -- The Mount Edgecumbe girls basketball team made Region V history Saturday night as the Braves became just the second Class 3A champion to beat a Class 4A champ in the annual Southeast championship crossover games.
Using a tenacious defense, the shorter Braves forced the Ketchikan Kings into a host of turnovers in the fourth quarter as Mount Edgecumbe rallied for a 55-43 victory at Mount Edgecumbe High School's B.J. McGillis Gym. The two teams were tied entering the final period, but the Braves went on a 12-0 run to open the quarter.
"Obviously we wanted to keep it close," Mount Edgecumbe girls coach Paul Johnson said. "But we can't complain about what we don't have, we just have to use what we have. What we have is a lot of good guards."
Mount Edgecumbe's victory was only the second time a Class 3A champ won a girls Southeast title since the state established school size classifications in 1984. The only other time a Class 3A team won was in 1990, when Wrangell beat Sitka according to Wrangell coach Tami Meissner and Petersburg girls coach Dino Brock (the tournament program had an incorrect listing). A Class 3A boys champion has never won the Southeast title since size classifications.
In the boys Southeast championship crossover game, the Wrangell Wolves tried to make it a clean sweep for the Class 3A teams as they jumped out to an early lead against the Class 4A champion Sitka Wolves. But Sitka came back to take a one-point lead at halftime and rode a brief third-quarter run to claim a 78-64 victory.
In the consolation crossover games, which pitted the third-place Class 4A finisher against the Class 3A runner-up, the Class 3A Craig boys beat Ketchikan 87-64 and the Sitka girls beat Haines 56-42.
The Mount Edgecumbe girls stayed within three points, 16-13, of Ketchikan at the end of the first quarter. The Braves briefly took the lead in the second quarter before Ketchikan rallied to take a 27-25 advantage into the halftime intermission. The Braves continued to stick around as Ketchikan led most of the third quarter, and the game was tied 36-36 entering the fourth quarter.
That's when Pauline Tutiakoff scored to open the quarter, Melanie Beans followed with another off a steal, then Adrienne Taalak made six straight free throws and Beans made two more free throws to give the Braves a 12-point lead, 48-36, with 1 minute, 43 seconds to play.
"We knew it would be real tough," Taalak said. "Our posts did awesome in rebounding."
"We needed to keep motivating ourselves," Beans said. "We had to keep telling ourselves we could win. This is a real motivator for state."
Taalak scored 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Braves, while Beans added 13 points and three steals. Prema Warren had seven points, five rebounds and three assists, while Tutiakoff had five rebounds and three steals.
Amanda Kolanko scored 20 points to lead Ketchikan, while Johanna Johnson scored nine points for the Kings.
Mount Edgecumbe will take a 22-3 overall record with it when the Braves travel to Anchorage for the Class 3A state tournament March 22-24 at Sullivan Arena. Ketchikan takes a 15-5 mark to Anchorage for the Class 4A state tournament, which will also be held March 22-24 at Sullivan Arena.
Wolf boys 78, Wolves 64
Sitka fell behind early, but rode an 18-10 third quarter to pull away from Wrangell in the boys Southeast championship crossover game.
Colin Kambak scored 19 points to lead Sitka, while Brian Friske added 18, Jason Mooney chipped in 16 and Greg Blankenship scored 10 points for the Wolves, who take a 16-8 record to the Class 4A state tournament.
Brad Angerman and Cole Appleman both scored 21 points to lead Wrangell, which takes a 17-6 record to the Class 3A state tournament, while Tony Marriott scored 11 points for the Wolves.
Panther boys 87, Kings 64
Raymond Douville scored 10 points in the fourth quarter as Class 3A boys runner-up Craig went on a 31-10 run to knock off Class 4A third-place team Ketchikan.
Douville led all scorers with 34 points, while teammates Craig Carter had 23 points and Ryan Jones scored 12 for the Panthers (18-7 overall heading to the Class 3A state tournament).
Kenny Terpsma scored 27 points to lead Ketchikan (which finished the season at 7-17), while Calin Bjur scored 14. Ketchikan played the game without three starters because of a team rules violation.
Wolf girls 56, Glacier Bears 42
Breanne Erickson led all scorers with 25 points as Class 4A girls third-place team Sitka beat Class 3A runner-up Haines.
Sid Wyman added 19 points for Sitka, which finished the season with a 9-13 record.
Lisa Sele scored 24 points to lead Haines (8-16 going into the Class 3A state tournament), while Penny Fossman and Keely Falcon both scored nine points.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.