Against Haines, Anna Korsmo and Rori Leaverton fight for a rebound, and Kaylie O’Daniel drives into the key. Below, Jesse Ellis blocks a Haines lay-up. Photos by Matt Davis, Chilkat Valley News

SHS girls sweep Haines, win Chevak Tourney
Boys notch second win of the year, host Thorne Bay this weekend


By JEFF BRADY

The Skagway High girl’s team overcame a big deficit to edge Haines, and followed that with a more convincing win over their cross-canal rival and then a fairly easy run to a tourney title at Chevak.
The boys, after two losses at Hoonah, played well in Chevak and came away with one big victory in three competitive games.
Both teams will get back to league play this weekend at home against Thorne Bay. Originally it was just going to be the boys playing, but the Wolverines were granted a waiver to have an eighth grader eligible so it could field a girl’s team.
Last week’s journey was of epic proportions, even by Alaska standards. The teams were driven 850 miles to Anchorage, flew from there another 500 miles to Chevak, played games over four days, flew back, and then drove home from Anchorage, returning to Skagway Tuesday night. The finally tally: 2,700 miles in eight days. Yet cost to the district was minimal as Stuart Brown donated the driving in his SMART bus, and the Chevak district paid for the flights.
Lady Panthers co-coach Lara Labesky said it was a “good, long trip for everybody,” even though “the driving wears you out.” But she said the kids took advantage of every opportunity to experience Eskimo culture in Chevak, from dancing to ice fishing.
The community is upriver from Hooper Bay and appears flat and isolated, she said, but people come in from Scammon Bay and other communities via snow machine or plane for the big tournament.
“The people are incredibly friendly and so accommodating,” she said. “People from other villages come in, and everyone stays at the school and they feed everybody. Women come in and cook meals all day long: seal stew, moose dishes. I thought it was great.”
On the court, the defending state champs did not have much competition, notching huge wins in its first two games and then facing a familiar foe in the championship, the Yakutat Eagles. Skagway played tough defense and took control of that game in the second quarter. Its biggest margin, 14 points, came at the end on a three-pointer at the buzzer by Rori Leaverton.
Labesky said the margin would have been greater if they hadn’t missed so many lay-ups. She said the Chevak rims were tight for everyone, but “that’s no excuse.”
The games in Haines leading up to the tourney were more competitive. She credited the defense with getting the team back in the game after falling behind by 11 points. When the defense forces turnovers that result in points, that gets the offense clicking. Skagway came all the way back to win by three, and the next night won by 11.
The boys have shown more firepower in recent games, averaging more than 50 points, and they got back in the win column at Chevak with a huge victory over Emmonak by racking up 85 points.
Danny Moore had an all-tourney performance for the boys, and Jesse Ellis, Kaylie O’Daniel and Leaverton made the girl’s all-tourney team. Ellis also won the 3-point shooting contest.

RECENT SCORES (through Feb. 5)

SHS Girls (12-2) – Skagway 55, Haines 52; Skagway 49, Haines 38; At Chevak Tourney - Skagway 65, St. Mary’s 11; Skagway 64, Kwethluk 21; Skagway 40, Yakutat 26 (championship).
SHS Boys (2-10): Hoonah 76, Skagway 50; Hoonah 70, Skagway 53; At Chevak Tourney – St. Mary’s 59, Skagway 55; Skagway 85, Emmonak 59; Scammon Bay 74, Skagway 55.
Upcoming: SHS hosts Thorne Bay Feb. 11-12; both teams at Angoon and Kake Feb. 17-20. See complete results, tourney links and photo galleries on the SHS Basketball Page on the News website.
Correction: The Jan. 21 issue said the switch from 2A to 1A would take place next year. The ASAA proposal actually has the shift taking place for the 2012-13 season.

BELLY BOWL II

The crowd cheers during the women’s final which “went the distance.” In the end, Carly “Lame Dame” (right) from Whitehorse scored more points than defending champ Claire “C-bomb” Regnier of Skagway, despite her trademark bar towel. The event was held Jan. 30 at the Skagway Brewing Co.

Emcee Mike Sica calls the all-local men’s final. It went two rounds before Tim “The Turtle” Fairbanks (left) bumped Mike “Naval Commander” Korsmo out of the circle for the victory. Photos by Jeff Brady