After falling in their Class 2A state tournament openers earlier this month, the Kake boys and Skagway and Yakutat girls basketball teams each managed at least one win in consolation play.
The Hoonah boys the other Southeast representative at the tournament at Anchorages Service High School made it to the Class 2A boys state title game before falling to Cook Inlet Academy. The Braves run was covered in the March 21 Empire.
The Skagway girls lost to five-time defending state champion Ninilchik in the Class 2A girls opener on March 17. Ninilchik went on to lose to Bristol Bay in the finals.
Skagway (23-2 overall) rebounded with a 44-43 overtime win over Unalakleet-Degnan on March 18. The Panthers led early, then trailed much of the second half before pulling ahead on two free throws by Tiffanie Potter with 34 seconds left. Unalakleets Kelsi Ivanoff hit a basket with 2 seconds left to send the game to overtime tied 38-all.
Skagway went on a 5-0 run to start the extra session, and was able to kill time and draw fouls the rest of the way. Unalakleets Barbara Towarak hit a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left to draw the Wolfpack within a point, but Skagway senior Savannah Ames was able to break the pressure on the inbounds and ran out the clock. Ames scored 20 points to lead the Panthers, while Crystal Ketterman added seven.
On March 19, Skagway met region rival Yakutat in the fourth-sixth place game. It was the first game of the day, and the teams showed it as Skagway won 19-16.
This game had 8 a.m. written all over it, Skagway coach Lara Labesky told The Skagway News.
Neither team scored in the first 5 1/2 minutes. Skagway led 8-4 at halftime, but Yakutat (17-8 overall) opened the third quarter with baskets from seniors Magen James and Jacquoi James to tie the score at 8-all. Defense ruled, as Skagway forced 27 Yakutat turnovers, while Yakutat held Ames scoreless though she had seven of her teams 15 steals.
Tiffanie Potter and Candi Ketterman picked up the offense for Skagway, who led 14-11 after three quarters.
Skagways Candi Ketterman made two driving layups midway through the fourth quarter for a 19-13 lead, and that was enough for the victory as neither team scored in the final 3 minutes. Ketterman scored 10 points to lead the Panthers, while Magen James led Yakutat with six points.
Yakutat coach Joe Klushkan said his team played good defense, but it was not enough. Klushkan said he was happy Yakutat got a win at state, calling it something to build on for next year.
Both Southeast teams anticipate returning to state next season. Yakutat loses the Jacquoi and Magen James, and Skagway loses Ames and Crystal Ketterman, but each team will return a solid core.
Ames was not happy with her final tourney performance, but reflected on her stellar high school career.
Its a bittersweet feeling, Ames told The Skagway News. Im going to miss playing in the little Southeast towns and seeing everyone. Ames has been recruited by several small colleges and has narrowed her choice down to Albertson College, a NCAA Division III school in Caldwell, Idaho.
I hope to make it at the next level, become a better player, and play college ball, she said.
Yakutat advanced to play Skagway on March 19 by beating Tri-Valley 45-30 on March 18. The Eagles led from start to finish, and were ahead 24-13 at halftime. Sophomore Sylvia Schumacher drained two 3-pointers to open the second half, and Yakutat led by as many as 19 points at times. Schumacher scored 11 points to lead Yakutat, while senior junior Ashton Schmidt chipped in 10 points and Jacquoi James added nine. Yakutat fell to Point Hope-Tikigaq 47-46 in overtime in its opener on March 17.
After falling to Unalakleet 71-59 on March 17, the Kake boys rallied to post a 60-49 win over Tok on Friday. The Thunderbirds got in foul trouble and fell behind 31-18 in the second quarter, but went on a run to close to within three points 33-30 at halftime. Kake finally went ahead for good in the fourth quarter, as junior Derek Knudsen scored 23 points and senior Tim Demmert added 13 for the Thunderbirds.
In Saturdays fourth-sixth place game, Kake came close, but was not able to complete a rally against Bristol Bay as the Thunderbirds fell 56-53.
Kake (16-9 overall) trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, but closed to within five 46-41 when Demmert hit a 3-pointer with one second left in the third quarter.
Sophomore Dean Cavanaugh cut Bristol Bays lead to two 54-52 when he sank a clutch 3-pointer with 1:30 remaining in the game. Then Kake sophomore Trevor Morris stole the ball and passed to Demmert, who was fouled and hit one of two free throws with 49 seconds left to cut Kakes deficit to 54-53.
Bristol Bay made a basket with 36 seconds left, and Kake was unable to get a clear 3-point look before time expired.
For a young team, we did pretty good, Kake coach Scott Jackson said. In this tournament, we got down early in all the games, and in this one starting playing a little too late, but Im proud of what they did this year. Jeff Brady of The Skagway News reported from Anchorage.