Thomas Etue dishes to forward Josh Cotton against Thorne Bay. Jeff Brady photos

Panther teams ready for ‘Tourney Time’

By JEFF BRADY
The Skagway teams are in Juneau this week for the Southeast Region 2A Basketball Tournament.
The fifth seed girls opened against fourth seed Klawock Thursday morning, while the sixth seed boys faced third seed Kake that night.
If the girls won, they play top seed Yakutat this afternoon at 3 p.m.. If they lost, they have a bye to Saturday morning’s consolation final at 8 a.m.
If the boys won they would play at 8:30 tonight against the winner of Thursday’s Klawock-Angoon game. If they lost, they would face the loser of that game at 1 p.m. today.
Leading up to the tourney, weather held off planned games in Tok, Whitehorse and Haines, with the Skagway teams just getting in a scrimmage in the Yukon before heading home to play Thorne Bay.
The girls dispatched Thorne Bay easily Feb. 25-26 in the regular season finale. Since then, they have been battling sickness, but coach Lara Labesky said they should be ready for Klawock. The Lady Panthers spilt with the Chieftains early in the season, and Skagway has improved, she said.
Sierra Moran has emerged as a huge scoring threat, and the Panthers have had steady point production from the Hahn sisters and Emily Herbig. Against Thorne Bay, almost everyone on the team scored and played great defense. Skagway held the Wolverines to zero points for the entire second half of its opening 43-10 win, and then for another quarter at the start of its 51-20 triumph.
If they beat Klawock and move on to play top ranked Yakutat, it will be tough, but Labesky maintains, “they are beatable.”
The boys almost pulled off their first on-court victory of the season over Thorne Bay. In the first game, they fell behind big in the second quarter, but outscored the Wolverines 23-10 in the second half of a 55-41 loss. That gave the Panthers confidence going into the second game, said coach Chris Wassman. Behind a balanced attack, Skagway broke out to a 22-15 halftime lead and stayed up by one going into the final quarter. But down the stretch, Skagway lost key starters Mickey Wilson and Josh Cotton to fouls, enabling Thorne Bay to get the lead and hold on for a 54-48 win.
“We felt like we had that second game,” Wassman said.
Skagway ended up seeded ahead of Angoon, which the Panthers beat by forfeit early in the season when the Eagles could not field a team. For Kake, Skagway was working on a strategy to stop its big freshman and step up its man-to-man defense on the T-bird guards. Kake beat Skagway handily last month, but the Panthers are looking for a better result on a neutral court.
The Panthers scrimmaged against the bigger Skagway Merchants men’s team last week and came away with a 71-70 victory. “We’re feeling pretty good about that,” said the coach, who helped his team win that one.
“Right now we are playing good basketball and getting a lot of positive support from the people in the community,” he said.

Chisato Yamashita fends off a Wolverine as she drives the base line.

NET RESULTS

GIRLS
(6-10 overall, 6-8 league)
Feb. 25 – Skagway 43, Thorne Bay 10: SGY- Moran 12, P. Hahn 8, E. Herbig 6, C. Hahn 5, A, Doland 4, Jensen 4, E. Doland 1; TB- Pakovich 6, Gooechea 2, Cook 2.
Feb. 26 – Skagway 51, Thorne Bay 20: SGY- P. Hahn 17, Moran 15, C. Hahn 5, E. Herbig 4, Korsmo 2, A. Doland 2, K. Henricksen 2, Wiley 2; TB- Pakovich 12, Gooechea 6.
BOYS
(2-12 overall, 2-10 league)
Feb. 25 – Thorne Bay 55, Skagway 41: TB- Christy 19, Grant 18, Slayton 6, McDougal 4, Stevens 4, Thielepape 2, Carl 2; SGY- Jo. Cotton 15, J. Henricksen 13, N. Herbig 4, Wilson 3, Dennis 2, Twitchell 2.
Feb. 26– Thorne Bay 55, Skagway 41: TB- Christy 23, Grant 10, Thielepape 7, Slayton 5, McDougal 4, Carl 2; SGY- J. Henricksen 9, Ja. Cotton 9, Jo. Cotton 8, Wilson 7, Kirko 6, Dennis 5, N. Herbig 4.

UPDATE – The Lady Panthers finished in fourth place at 2A Tourney. They beat Klawock, but then lost in the semifinals to region champ Yakutat, and to Hydaburg in the third place game. The Panther boys bowed out early, losing to region champ Kake, and in a close consolation round game with Angoon. Details in March 23 issue.