Lady Panthers rebound from first loss

Yakutat spoiled a perfect run at home for the Skagway Lady Panthers this year by winning the second game of their series on Feb. 14. It was Skagway’s first loss of the season, but the team bounced back with big wins at Angoon last weekend.
Skagway, ranked third in the state 2A poll, won the first game over fifth-ranked Yakutat easily, 48-25, breaking open at tight game in the second half behind a brilliant performance by Savannah Ames, who netted 27 points. She rained in five 3-pointers and cruised to as many buckets driving the lane.
But the Eagles had a plan for Ames in the second game, double-teaming her in the backcourt and limiting the All-State Skagway senior to a season-low 3 points.
Yakutat seemed in command of the game with an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but Skagway made a run to cut it down to 4 points, largely behind hustle plays under the bucket by Michelle Harris. She led the Skagway scoring with 14 points, mostly off offensive rebounds and free throws.
But Skagway’s defense let up in the final minute, allowing Eagle freshman Heidi Esbenshade (10 points) through the lane for a lay-up, and the Panthers were forced to foul in the final minute. Yakutat’s Jacquoi James (13 points) hit 3-of-4 free throws to seal the win, 38-29.
After the game, Ames was seen shooting buckets long after the crowd had left.
Coach Lara Labesky said the girls responded in practice last week and performed well in Angoon. Everyone who traveled scored as the Lady Panthers knocked off Angoon, 56-20 and 54-11. The Eagles played hard despite having just five players eligible, Labesky said, and Skagway did all the right things.
“We played good, solid, clean defense and executed our offense and played good team basketball,” she said.
Next up for the Lady Panthers is a tough lineup at the Tok Tournament, where they will face No. 4 Galena on Thursday, No. 1 Ninilchik on Friday (3:30 p.m. on KHNS), and unranked Alak on Saturday. Skagway is still ranked third in the sportswriters poll.
The Skagway boys meanwhile had a tough time with Yakutat’s press, which the Eagles coach did not pull off until the second half both nights. Yakutat won 76-19 and 93-14. The Panthers were without senior John McCluskey the second night, as he broke a finger diving for a loose ball in the first contest.
The Skagway boys got two more wins by forfeit when Angoon did not have enough players eligible to suit up for last weekend’s series. The boys are still looking for their first on-court victory.
Coach Mark Jennings will have McCluskey back in the line-up in Tok this weekend. His shot will be off from playing with a finger brace, but his court presence will be needed as the boys face Anderson, Tanana and Galena.
Jennings said the team has gone back to fundamentals in practice and he has gotten the kids to commit to working on their games all year-round. Last Sunday, on their off day, they were playing at the Rec. Center. “They’re getting to be a real tight group,” he said.
Next week, the Panthers hope to make up games at Kake that had to be postponed when the team could not fly there last month. These will be the final games before region tourney at Mt. Edgecumbe March 10-12.

UPDATE: The girls won all three games at Tok, including a comeback thriller over Galena and a 15-point victory over top-ranked Ninilchik. The boys lost a thriller to Anderson and had tough outings against Tanana and Galena. Details in March 11 issue.

Michelle Harris puts up a shot after grabbing a rebound. JB

NET RESULTS

Varsity Girls (14-1, 9-1 conf.)
Feb. 12 - at Skagway 48, Yakutat 25: SGY- Ames 27, Can. Ketterman 10, Harris 5, Potter 4, Neitzer 2; YAK- J. James 9, Esbenshade 8, Schumacher 5, Porter 3.
Feb. 14 - Yakutat 38, Skagway 29: YAK- J. James 13, Esbenshade 10, M. James 7, Schmidt 5, Vale 2, Schumacher 1; SGY- M. Harris 14, Potter 6, Can. Ketterman 4, Ames 3, Neitzer 2.
Feb. 18- Skagway 56, at Angoon 20: SGY: Ames 15, Can. Ketterman 13, M. Harris 11, Neitzer 9, Potter 6, E. Harris 2. ANG- Williams 8, D. Frank 6, Isturis 4, Duncan 2.
Feb. 19- Skagway 54, Angoon 11: SGY: Ames 17, Can. Ketterman 14, M. Harris 10, E. Harris 6, Potter 4, Cry. Ketterman 3. ANG- Duncan 4, Williams 3, Isturis 2, R. Frank 2.

Varsity Boys (4-11, 4-6 conf.)
Feb. 12 - Yakutat 76, Skagway 19: YAK- Ferguson 18, Klushkan 15, Vale 11, Dierick 11, Ivers 9, Sin 8, Dunbar 2, Ross 2; SGY- Jezini 5, Henricksen 4, Littlefield 4, McCluskey 3, Cochran 2, Cotton 1.
Feb. 14- Yakutat 93, Skagway 14: YAK- Vale 23, Dierick 17, Klushkan 16, Dunbar 14, Ferguson 12, Sin 8, Ross 3; SGY- Littlefield 5, Jezini 4, Henricksen 3, Twitchell 2.
Feb. 18-19 - Skagway def. Angoon (2 wins by forfeit).

SKI REPORT
Jackrabbits pace caribou, place high at Marsh Lake

Whitehorse Star/Skagway News
The sun was shining brightly on Marsh Lake as close to 300 competitors descended on the cross-country ski trails for the 11th annual loppet on Feb. 12.
The Skagway Ski Club “Jackrabbits” made an impressive showing, sweeping two categories.
“With as little training as we had due to weather and road closures, Skagway shined in the Marsh Lake Loppet with seven out of 27 kids placing,” said Ski Club director Denise Caposey.
Race organizer Pat Healy said this year’s loppet was once again a huge success.
“Things went absolutely amazing,” she said. “There were a few highlights, and one of them was the caribou.
“The kids from Skagway saw a caribou on the trails. They were absolutely ecstatic about it.”
Saturday’s race also featured a dedication to Peter Milner, who passed away earlier this month after a battle with cancer. Milner was chief of race for the loppet for nine years. Healy’s husband Jim and Milner’s son Chris went down to the start of the 10 and 20 kilometre races to make the dedication, with Chris also starting the race. And many stopped at “Tequila Junction” to toast Peter’s memory.
Healy said she’d never seen people in such high spirits as they were at this year’s event, and had never received so many thank-you’s. “People just said how much they appreciated the work we’ve done and how much they enjoy the race.”
Next up for the Skagway Ski Club is the Northwestel Loppet in Whitehorse on Saturday, March 5.
“We hope to do as well,” she said. “And look for us at the Buckwheat!”
Here are the categories where Skagwayans placed:
Pee Wee Girls: 2. Sydney Brown, 15:39
Mini-Midget Girls: 2. Kaitlyn Surdyk, 12:50
Midget Boys: 1. Mickey Wilson, 11:41; 2. Ethan Moe, 14:45; 3. Michael Brown, 17:28
Midget Girls: 1. Amanda Jensen, 16:14; 2. Kasandra Moe, 17:13
Junior Women – 10 km: 1. Melissa Cardoso, 1:33:03

• Buckwheat Ski Classic Press Release