Visibly tired from an end-of-the-season road trip, the Skagway boys basketball team managed to pull out a 52-29 victory over the Hoonah Braves in Thursday's opening round of the Region V-Class 2A tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School's main gym.
A highly explosive team this season, the Panthers didn't display their usual offensive prowess but still managed to virtually control the entire game.
"We usually average about 90 points a game, so it's way below our average," Skagway's Jarrett Brown said after leading the Panthers with 17 points and 10 rebounds on Thursday. "We were just tired."
Skagway closed out its season with a week-long trip to Kake and Angoon, and the Panthers are still recovering.
"We had an off night offensively, but defensively I thought we played pretty well," Skagway coach Lee Hartson said.
In Thursday's other boys basketball first-round games, the Kake Thunderbirds blew by the Angoon Eagles 90-44, and the Klawock Chieftains beat the Yakutat Eagles 60-55. The top-seeded Hydaburg Warriors had a first-round bye on Thursday, as the winless Thorne Bay Wolverines decided earlier this week not to come to the region tournament.
Skagway will play Kake in tonight's 8:30 p.m. semifinal, while Klawock will play against Hydaburg at 4:45 p.m. in the other semifinal. Hoonah played Angoon at 1 p.m. today in a consolidation bracket game, while Yakutat had a bye. On Saturday, the fourth-sixth place game is at 9:45 a.m., the third-fifth place game is at 3:30 p.m. and the championship game is at 7 p.m.
In girls basketball action Thursday, the Klawock Chieftains beat the Hydaburg Warriors 49-42, the Skagway Panthers rolled over the Hoonah Braves 60-32 and the Angoon Eagles beat the Yakutat Eagles 54-41. The top-seeded Kake Thunderbirds had a first-round bye.
Klawock will play Angoon in tonight's 6:45 p.m. semifinal, while Skagway plays Kake at 3 p.m. in the other semifinal. Hydaburg played Yakutat at 11:15 a.m. today in a consolidation bracket game, while Hoonah had a bye. On Saturday, the fourth-sixth place game is at 8 a.m., the third-fifth place game is at 2 p.m. and the championship game is at 5:45 p.m.
The four teams that reach Saturday's boys and girls championship games will all advance to the Class 2A state tournament March 27-29 at Anchorage's Service High School.
Both Skagway teams have much to be proud of this season, especially the boys who have integrated Brown, who transferred from Hoonah this season, into the fabric of the team.
Brown dominated both sides of the court against his former team Thursday. The Panthers came out strong, opening with a 9-0 run before Hoonah scored their first points with 3:41 left in the first quarter. Skagway ended the quarter with a basket by Brown off an assist from Jerod Moore to make it 13-4. The Panthers led 24-10 at halftime.
Hoonah outscored the Panthers 16-8 in the third quarter, closing to within four points, 28-24, on a 3-pointer by Dustin Bowen late in the quarter before Skagway got going again. The Panthers kept the momentum in the fourth quarter, outscoring Hoonah 20-3.
"I thought Hoonah did a good job, they battled back in the third quarter and made it close, made us work for it, so I was happy to see that," Hartson said. "I didn't want to take anybody lightly."
"We just hung in there, played hard," Panther senior Aaron Neitzer said. "It's about playing hard and not wanting to lose and not giving up when they came back."
Scott Lesh scored 12 points and Moore added 10 points for the Panthers. Bowen led Hoonah with 12 points and Devin Moritz scored nine.
Thunderbirds 90, Eagles 44
Shane Padgett dominated the first half, scoring all of his 21 points before halftime as Kake beat Angoon to advance to today's semifinal game against Skagway.
Kyle Anderson and Cyrus Mills each added 14 points for the Thunderbirds, with Tim Demmert scoring 11 for Kake.
Stuart Jack scored 13 points to lead Angoon, while Stephen Johnson added 10. The Eagles trailed 46-16 at halftime.
Chieftains 60, Eagles 55
Shawn Kato-Yates scored 19 points and Bradley Kato added 16 as Klawock beat Yakutat.
Stephan Ellison added eight points and Jared Williams scored seven for Klawock, which plays Hydaburg in today's semifinals.
Bailey Johnson scored 26 to lead Yakutat, while Russ Ramey scored 17.
Chieftains 49, Warriors 42
Klawock used team cohesiveness to edge out its victory, nearly falling victim to the dominant play of Hydaburg's Destiny Bell who scored 35 of her team's 42 points.
"The last two times we played they didn't have Destiny and she's a real good player," said Klawock's coach Don Busse. "I knew it was going to be a real good ball game for us, so I'm just really happy that we won."
Kaleigh Ryno scored 17 points to lead the Chieftains, while Natalie Wangerin added 12 points and Alisa Meece scored 11.
Panthers 60, Braves 32
Savannah Ames scored 34 points, including 15 of the team's 17 first-quarter points, as Skagway beat Hoonah to advance to today's semifinals against Kake.
Candi Ketterman added 10 points for the Panthers while Michelle Harris added seven.
Branda Skaflestad scored 13 points to lead Hoonah, while Kristi Skaflestad scored seven.
Eagles 54, Eagles 41
Carmen Estrada scored 14 points and Teresa Dyson added 11 as Angoon beat Yakutat in Thursday's first-round action.
Rose Williams added nine points, while Amber Jamestown and Telise Gamble both scored eight for Angoon, which plays Klawock in today's semifinals.
Team captain Hannah Esbenshade scored 17 points to lead Yakutat, while Magen James scored 10 points.
Eric Morrison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.