Skagway High School Varsity Basketball Preview

Girls have depth for making run to State

Girls Roster
Savannah Ames 5’6” jr.
Grace Blanchard 5’5” jr.
Crystal Ketterman 5’6” jr.
Christina Stube 5’7” jr.
Michelle Harris 5’5” so.
Candi Ketterman 5’7” so.
Audrey Neitzer 5’7” so.
Tiffanie Potter 5’7” so.
Gloria Blanchard 5’1” fr.
Leah Moore 5’7” fr.

The Lady Panthers have high hopes for the 2004 season. The nucleus is back from a team that finished third in the region last year and just missed qualifying for State.
New coach Lara Labesky, who assisted last year and has three years of experience leading the junior high girls’ program, said she inherited a good team from retired coach Jeff Kasler.
Junior all-conference guard Savannah Ames shouldered much of the scoring last year, but this year’s team should have a more balanced attack, Labesky said.
“The other players have matured enough to take on more responsibility,” Labesky said. “She (Ames) will still be the high scorer, but we can spread it out more so we are harder to stop.”
Along with Ames, returning starters are Tiffanie Potter, Crystal Ketterman, Candi Ketterman, and Michelle Harris. Audrey Neitzer also will see a lot of action. All went to camps last summer and improved individually, Labesky said.

Sophomores Tiffanie Potter (left) and Michelle Harris stretch muscles before practice this week, along with freshman Gloria Blanchard in background. JB

The team was thin during practices over the holidays, and unfortunately will not have the two Ketterman girls for the opener. Although Candi, who can score in double figures, will be ready to play for part of the Don Hather Tourney, defensive stand-out Crystal will not have enough practices to be eligible to play this weekend. Look for tall freshman Leah Moore, the Blanchard sisters, and German exchange student Christina Stube to see their first varsity action.
Labesky said she learned a lot from Kasler, but will add variations to the defensive and offensive sets he put in place last year. She plans to use some zone traps to mix up the defense, and make the offense a little more flexible, given the fact that every player can do more.
“They are working really hard, and are in better condition than they were last year,” Labesky said. “We are concentrating on the whole team versus one player.
“The whole team needs to step up and be confident. We know we can’t win a championship depending on just Savannah even knowing how good she is. The whole team has to be there.... More maturity and knowledge helps out a lot.” – JB

Boys rebuild with big lineup

Boys Roster
Hank Burnham 6’3”sr.
Garrett Henry 5’9” sr.
Thomas Knorr 6’5” sr.
Florian Wischnat 6’5” sr.
John McCluskey 5’9” jr.
Kyle Mulvihill 5’10” jr.
Trevor Cochran 5’9” so.
Kevin Wang 5’6” so.
Makeah Twitchell 5’7” fr.

On paper, the Panther boys have lost a lot from a team that finished second in the region and took sixth in the state last year. Gone are several seniors to graduation, and a gutsy junior to an exchange program for a year, and a pair of prized sophomores who moved away.
But the Panthers got their own exchange thing going this year, and will feature the tallest front line in Region V 2A under new coach Mark Jennings.
If the boys can out-rebound other teams, stay out of foul trouble, control the tempo, and not turn the ball over, they could be competitive in a league where there is no clear favorite in Southeast this year.
Back and bigger than ever is senior Thomas Knorr, whom Jensen called “dominating” in recent scrimmages with alumni.
“Thomas has become so physical and has vastly improved his game,” Jennings noted.
Knorr, the only returning starter, bulked up during the wrestling season, and will be a 6’5” twin tower with German exchange student Florian Wischnat, a “bright spot” for someone who has never played the game, Jennings said.
Add 6’3” Hank Burnham, back after a year in Washington, and Skagway has an imposing front line. The key will be getting the ball to Knorr and his frontcourt mates.

John McCluskey, Garrett Henry, Thomas Knorr and Kyle Mulvihill line up for a rebound drill as Kevin Wang races back. JB

Jennings expects teams to press the Panthers, and getting the ball up the floor without turning it over is a huge priority. He has a good ball handler in guard Garrett Henry, a senior who rejoined the team this year, but unfortunately he will not have enough practices to be eligible until after the Don hather Tourney. Sophomore Trevor Cochran has solid skills, but is playing on a sore foot from a wrestling injury that sidelined him for the entire season last year. Forward John McCluskey got some valuable minutes last year and has improved. For speed, there’s no one faster than Kyle Mulvihill. Taiwanese exchange student Kevin Wang and freshman Makeah Twitchell round out the roster.
In spite of the team’s inexperience, the Panthers have worked hard in practice and are ready to play.
“We’ve come around a lot,” Jennings said. “We’ll take some teams by surprise. I’m sure.” – JB

Varsity Schedule
Jan. 10 & 12 HOONAH
Jan. 22-23 at Klawock (girls) and Thorne Bay (boys)
Jan. 24 & 26 at Hydaburg
Feb. 12-13 at Yakutat
Feb. 20-21 at Whitehorse Porter Creek
Feb. 26-28 at Tok Inv. Tourney
Mar. 1-2 ANGOON
Mar. 10-11 KAKE
Mar. 18-19 Region V 2A Tourney at Ketchikan
March 25-27 State 2A Tourney at Anchorage