Danny Moore runs the floor, and Jayce Ellis and Anna Korsmo defend against Yakutat. See more photos on page 9. Cody Jennings

Skagway teams miss State this year

SHS girls take third, boys knocked out early

By JEFF BRADY

The run of state championship appearances has ended for the Lady Panthers. This year’s team just wasn’t quite good enough to knock off Yakutat for the region’s second berth at State alongside new Southeast 2A champion Klawock.
The Lady Panthers finished 3-2 at region tourney in Sitka, with those two losses coming to Yakutat, in the semifinals and then in the region runner-up game. The Skagway team dismantled the other teams they played – Hoonah in the quarterfinal, and then Thorne Bay and Angoon as they worked their way back through the losers bracket to earn a rematch with Yakutat.
Meanwhile, the boys team finished a disappointing 0-2. After a first round loss to Klawock, they played well in a losers bracket game against Angoon but lost by two.
Skagway’s coaches were upbeat about the season and the effort by their teams.
Girls co-coach Lara Labesky said not being able to beat Yakutat this season was “a bit of a disappointment”since the teams were evenly matched.
Skagway had gone on to meet its rival in the state championship game two of the last three years. Yakutat won in 2009, and Skagway in 2011, with the Lady Panthers winning their first state title over Ninilchik in 2010. Both teams were not as strong this year, but still were pretty good and the rivalry was just as intense.
“They just made a few more shots than we did,” Labesky said. “We got the shots, there was just a lid on the basket.”
She said she was proud of how the team members came together to take on different roles this season, after the departure of three all-state caliber players. She said everyone improve and they took themselves about as far as they could go.
“During that last game, they left it all on the floor,” she said.
Co-coach Mark Jennings said that even when they were down 13 toward the end of the last game, senior Jayce Ellis pulled everyone aside in a time out and said “We’re not quitting,” and they closed the gap to six in the final minute. “That was pretty cool to see and they played hard until it was over.”
Labesky added, “They went after it…. I know they were disappointed, but they should be proud of what they did.”
Seniors Rori Leaverton and Anna Korsmo made all-conference.
Jennings, who also coached the boys, said his team played well against Klawock in the opening round but just did not shoot the ball well.
“In that game I think we were 11-for-60 from the floor,” he said. “We just had a hard time putting the ball in the hole, but the kids played hard.”
In the next game against Angoon, he said they got in foul trouble in the third quarter and never recovered, losing by two.
“That was a tough one,” he said. “We should have had that game.”
He said that despite their shooting woes in Sitka, they never stopped hustling, and he was proud of them and senior Blake Fletcher for making all-conference.
“Going two-and-out was disappointing,” he said. “I wanted them to gain some confidence for next year by winning at least one game down there. It didn’t happen but they stayed positive.”

See Tourney Game Reports and more photos on the 2011-2012 SHS Basketball Page.

J-High Panthers earn split at Haines tournament

The Skagway junior high school basketball team were 2-2 at the Triple Threat Tournament in Haines at the end of February.
Skagway didn’t have enough students for boys and girls squads this year, so a coed team was formed under new coach Reid Lawson.
“It was a good trip, and they all had a good time,” Lawson said.
They also were competitive.
Lawson said they won their first two games over Juneau Hoop Time teams, but their final two games were more challenging.
Against a better Juneau team, the Skagway squad was down by 14 at the half but climbed back in it and lost by only three points.
In their next game against Haines, which decided who would move on to the championship, the junior Panthers again fell behind double-digits at halftime, but clawed their way back in it.
“The kids worked hard and pushed it to overtime,” Lawson said, where they lost by a bucket.
Eighth grader Trevor Cox had an outstanding tournament, averaging about 15 points per game, Lawson said.
Other Skagway team members were Alex Ackerman, Colton Belisle, Wyatt Belisle, Micah Cook, Hailey Jensen, Nathaniel Leggett, Dainean Teeluk, Al Weber, and Kara Whitehead.
Although their season is over, the team is still getting together to practice a couple days a week. Lawson said the goal is to get the kids familiar with the game and develop their skills to get them ready for their high school years.