The Kake High School boys and girls basketball teams came out second best at last year's Region V-Class 2A tournament.
When the tournament opens Thursday morning at Juneau-Douglas, the Thunderbird boys and girls will have the top seeds and will be looking to move up a spot. But that doesn't mean the T-Birds think they have the tournament won yet.
"I think both coaches here know what the tournament's like," Kake athletic director David Grimes said. "Even in the pep rallies, they've been telling everyone this is tournament play and anything can happen. The attitude, even with the players, has been wait and see."
Kake opens the tournament against Thorne Bay at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, with the other first-round boys games being Hydaburg vs. Hoonah at 1 p.m., Angoon vs. Yakutat at 4:45 p.m. and Skagway vs. Klawock at 8:30 p.m. The boys semifinals are 4:45 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Friday, and the championship game is at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
The Kake girls have a first-round bye Thursday, when Hoonah plays Yakutat at 11:15 a.m., Angoon plays Skagway at 3 p.m. and Klawock plays Hydaburg at 6:45 p.m. The girls semifinals are at 3 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. on Friday, with the championship game at 5:15 p.m.
The Kake boys are 16-3 overall and 12-2 in region play, which is the same region record as second-seeded Skagway (19-3 overall). Defending region and state champion Angoon is the third seed at 15-5 overall and 10-4 in region play.
The three teams split in their head-to-head two-game series match-ups and have been ranked this season, but one team will have to stay home when next weekend's Class 2A state tournament takes place at Anchorage's Service High School gym. Only the top two teams from the region qualify for state, and Kake is ready to make a return trip to Anchorage after coming so close last year.
"They're much more vocal, as far as excitement and hustle, than they have been the last few years," Grimes said.
Hydaburg (11-8 overall, 7-7 region) has the fourth boys seed, while Yakutat (12-9 overall, 6-8 region) is fifth, Hoonah (9-13 overall, 6-8 region) is sixth, Klawock (6-14 overall, 3-11 region) is seventh and winless Thorne Bay (0-17 overall, 0-14 region). Yakutat has also been ranked this season.
Kake is led by senior guard-forward Anthony Dolan, who scored 54 points in a game two weeks ago. The Thunderbirds also feature center-forward Jesse Reese, guard Rob Mills, 3-point threat Kyle Anderson and center-forward Matt Appel.
Other players to watch include Mitchell Snyder, Kyle Ellis, Thomas Cochran and Ray Hosford of Skagway; Clayton Edwin, Mike Pitka, Travis Woodbury and Ozelle Jamestown of Angoon; George Peratrovich and Vince Edenshaw of Hydaburg; Martin Sensmeier, Skye Endicott and Jake Endicott of Yakutat; Kevin Skeek, Donald Dybdahl and Jarret Brown of Hoonah; Shawn Kato-Yates and P.J. Bush of Klawock; and Sam Sawyer of Thorne Bay.
The Kake girls posted a 14-2 overall and 11-1 region record to earn the first-round bye. Klawock, which won the state championship in 1999, took the second seed with a 15-3 overall and 9-3 region mark. Both teams have been ranked most of the season.
The rest of the girls seeds went to Angoon (8-9 overall, 7-5 region) in third, Hoonah (8-11 overall, 7-5 region) in fourth, defending region champion Yakutat (8-9 overall, 5-7 region) in fifth, Skagway (4-18 overall, 3-9 region) in sixth and winless Hydaburg (0-15 overall, 0-12 region).
Kake is led by sisters Robin Knudsen, a senior forward, and Danielle Knudsen, a sophomore center. The other two regular starters are senior forward Cassandra Martin and sophomore guard Chrissy Morris, while three players rotate through the other spot, Grimes said.
Other players to watch in the girls tournament include Jessica Peters and Natalie Waangerin of Klawock; Marcie Kookesh and Carmen Estrada of Angoon; Alice Lee and Trissa Barros of Hoonah; Samantha Johnson and Stephanie Johnson of Yakutat; Kristina Knorr and Ashley Law of Skagway; and Maggie Vasquez of Hydaburg.
Grimes said having the Gold Medal Tournament in town next week is a big boost for the Region V-Class 2A tournament, since many fans from the villages will come to Juneau to watch both tournaments.
"There's quite a bit of them that have already left, and there's another ferry tomorrow," Grimes said. "It works kind of handy for fan support."
Brackets set for Class 3A and Class 4A state tournaments
The Sitka High School boys basketball team may have won the Region V-Class 4A tournament last weekend, but the Wolves didn't get much of a prize.
The Wolves (16-8) open the Class 4A state tournament against undefeated and top-ranked Kodiak, which brings a 25-0 record to the tourney. Sitka hosted Kodiak two weekends ago, losing 85-70 in a game where Kodiak jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first half only to have the Wolves close to within three points at halftime.
"We got a lot more confidence when we were down 20, but got the lead down to three," Sitka's Brett Haavig said.
Sitka plays Kodiak at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, while the other boys first-round games feature Lathrop vs. Chugiak at 1:15 p.m., Palmer vs. Dimond at 7:15 p.m. and Soldotna vs. two-time defending Class 4A state champion East Anchorage at 9 p.m., with all games at Anchorage's Sullivan Arena. The boys semifinals are at 3:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Friday and the boys championship game is at 9 p.m.
In the girls Class 4A tournament, Region V champion Ketchikan opens the tournament against Wasilla at 9:45 p.m. Thursday. The other first-round games Thursday are defending champion East Anchorage vs. Chugiak at 8 a.m., Bartlett vs. Colony at 3:45 p.m. and Kenai Central vs. Lathrop at 5:30 p.m. The girls semifinals are at 7:15 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday, with the championship game at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday.
"I think we'll do really good up at state," said Ketchikan center Johanna Johnson, who said the Kings hope to improve on their fourth-place finish last year.
In the Class 3A boys tournament, three-time Region V champion Wrangell opens tournament play at 3:45 p.m. against Barrow in Thursday's first-round action at Sullivan Arena. Region V runner-up Craig will play Nome-Beltz at 9:45 a.m. in another first-round game Thursday, while the other opening-round pairings feature Anchorage Christian Schools vs. Eielson at 8 a.m. and Valdez vs. defending state champion Grace Christian School at 5:30 p.m. in a rematch of last year's championship game. The semifinals are at 7:15 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday, and the championship game is at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
In the Class 3A girls tournament, three-time Region V champion Mount Edgecumbe opens its state tournament against Barrow at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday. Region V runner-up Haines opens tournament play at 1:15 p.m. Thursday against Bethel Regional, while the other first-round games are defending state champion Nikiski vs. Eielson at 11:30 a.m. and Valdez vs. Seward at 9 p.m. The girls semifinals are at 3:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Friday, and the girls championship game is at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.