Elementary school children cheer a Panther basket against Haines on Tuesday under the new “Home of the Panthers” sign on the press box by local artist Coutenay Birdsall-Clifford. Right, Kiara Selmer drives against Jenae Larson of Haines. See more photos on the SHS Basketball Page. Jeff Brady

Panthers earn big wins on island

Girls go 6-0, boys 3-3 on long road trip

 Usually, the most dreaded road trip on the Panthers’ schedule is the one they have to take to Prince Wales Island every other year. The kids are gone for more than a week, in which they play six games at three schools. Hard rims, local referees and the usual away atmosphere make it tough, even for the best teams, to come home with a few wins.
Then throw in Klawock teams that are defending region or state champs and you have a tall order ahead.
So, for the Skagway girls to go 6-0 on the island and the previously unbeaten boys to come away with a 3-3 split was somewhat of a milestone. Both teams now sport 7-3 conference records with just four league games left in the regular season.
The girls leapt to third spot in the league standings with wins over Thorne Bay (41-32, 36-28), Klawock (31-29 OT, 27-11), and Hydaburg (42-16, 47-10).
The boys are currently second or third in the region. They posted big wins over Thorne Bay (62-30, 68-24), had rough losses against state favorite Klawock (76-33, 56-25), and then split at Hydaburg. Skagway won the first game 65-60 in overtime, but fell 63-59 the next night. The Panthers cut the lead right at the very end, knowing a smaller margin win for the Warriors would mean Skagway would technically take the series and affect their seeding later for region tourney.
“Overall, the going 3-3 felt okay,” said coach Kent Fielding. “I mean, I'd have liked to have gone 4-2, but we lost Dominique (Foote) during that first game in Hydaburg (and he is an outstanding defensive player) on a bogus call – we have filed a complaint – and the second game we just didn't play good defense. We did pull out the series. Zack (Wassman) and Trevor (Cox) scored 7 points in the final 32 seconds to win the series, but I would have liked to get both those games.”
The two guards lit it up from the outside in Hydaburg. Wassman hit 23 in the opener, and Cox netted 33 in the second game. Donovan Henson has also been playing well and led the team with 24 points in one of the Thorne Bay victories.
The girls were challenged in both Thorne Bay games, and worked on a “triangle and two” defense that would help them against defending region champ Klawock.
“They played great on the island,” said co-coach John O’Daniel. “We had moments of not playing so well, but the triangle and two with Hails (Hailey Jensen) on their point guard and Kara (Whitehead) on their best shooter shut them down…. We played a great defensive game.”
Hannah O’Daniel and Zoe Wassman led the team in scoring, but the big wins over Hydaburg allowed other players to be involved in the point production. Jade Cook finally had a big game, hitting layups and baby hooks, and Whitehead also got into double figures.
The Lady Panthers were without center Cook and backup center Al Weber (both were delayed returning from a student council function in Juneau) against Haines early this week, and it threw the team game off, O’Daniel said.
The bigger Glacier Bears had their way in the frontcourt and won big, 48-5 and 48-12.
O’Daniel said the bench kids got to play a lot for the home fans and chalked up the series to a “learning experience.”
They were back in the gym at 6 a.m. Wednesday to work on blocking out and positioning for rebounds, playing against a man-to-man defense, and breaking presses.
The boys will have a turn at Haines next week. At press time a home game was scheduled for Monday, Feb. 17, but activities director Cindy O’Daniel said the boys might instead travel to Haines to scrimmage Craig and play Haines on Sunday. Check for updates on the News or school website.
Both teams are home for the last time on Feb. 21-22 against Angoon (senior night is Saturday), and then go to Yakutat Feb. 24-25.
“It’ll be interesting to see how we do against Yakutat,” Fielding said. “It looks like Yakutat beat Haines by 3 (this week), so Haines might be a good test for us.”

Feb. 21-22 Angoon (final home games and senior night)
Feb. 24-25 at Yakutat
March 5-8 Regionals at Ketchikan
March 15-19 State at Anchorage

Watch for results and updates on the SHS Basketball Page on the News website, and follow the team’s page on Facebook.

Buckwheat Ski Classic 2014 - ‘Life is a Circus’

Registrations are now being accepted for the 2014 Buckwheat Ski Classic, which will be held on the Log Cabin Ski Trails north of Skagway on Saturday, March 22. Registration is available online at: www.buckwheatskiclassic.com .
A record 393 skiers participated last year, and another big race is anticipated this year with a circus-themed aid station and race shirts. New this year will be a Best Costume Award based on the 2014 theme: “Life is a Circus.” The prize will be a tour package to Skagway’s Upper Dewey Lake cabin.
Also this year, the race has created a new Father Jean-Marie Mouchet Award for the most inspirational skier, in recognition of the late pioneer of the Log Cabin trail system.
The race is a fundraiser for Log Cabin Ski Society, which maintains the ski trails with equipment and volunteers. These trails have been recognized as an official recreation area by BC Forestry. The society has been working closely with the agency on trail improvements, a new map, and information kiosks. LCSS also has assisted budget-strapped Parks Canada for keeping the rest room facilities open in the Log Cabin parking lot. LCSS was formed in 2012 to continue the ski race founded by Skagway’s Buckwheat Donahue and keep the trails maintained for the benefit of all users.
LCSS volunteers groom and set track on the ski trails prior to every weekend between now and the race, so skiers are encouraged to check trail condition updates on the site and use the area all winter. The trails are located on the S. Klondike Highway, 27 miles (43.5K) north of Skagway.
The 28th annual Buckwheat Ski Classic will have 50K, 25K and 10K classic cross country ski races, as well as a 5K kids race. Racers can sign up by clicking on the Race Entry tab on the website and following the registration link.
There is a discount for registering early before the end of February, then fees go up in March. Racers also have the option of joining the society for $10 per year and donating to the society’s warming hut fund.
Print registration forms and membership applications also are available at the usual locations: The Mountain Shop in Skagway, Coast Mountain Sports in Whitehorse, Lutak Lumber in Haines, and Foggy Mountain Outfitters in Juneau. Those registration forms may be dropped off at the Skagway and Whitehorse locations by March 18 or mailed to Buckwheat Ski Classic, Box 636, Skagway.
After the race, the fun moves down to Skagway for a fabulous awards dinner at the Skagway Recreation Center. Then the party shifts downtown, where there will be music at local establishments. Watch the site or the LCSS Facebook page for updates.
Additional Skagway volunteers are needed. If you can help with race packet prep, race timing, serving breakfast, parking lot detail, snow carving, and aid station prep and serving, please put your name on one of the sign-up sheets at the Skagway Rec. Center. You’ll get a great shirt for your efforts.
Major sponsors and contributors of the Buckwheat Ski Classic include: Municipality of Skagway CVB & Rec. Center, Salree, Inc., Alaska Shirt Co., The Mountain Shop, Elliott Financial Management, Holland America, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Duff’s Backcountry Outfitters, The Skagway News. Co., PR Services, Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club, Hamilton Construction, and Alaskan Brewing Co. – LCSS

Above, one of the new kiosks on the Log Cabin Ski Trails. LCSS