State Hoop Shoot Champ

Thomas Etue, the Alaska Elks Hoop Shoot champion for age 10-11 boys, is flanked by John L. O’Daniel, Don Hather and referees Ryan Ackerman and Mark “Ozzie” Osborn after receiving his trophy. Etue hit 20 of 25 free throws, and moved on to regional competition in Portland, Oregon. JB

Girls top team going into 2A Tourney
Boys get home win against Kake, hope to nail down sixth seed

Despite losing two of three games at the Tok Invitational Tournament, the Skagway Lady Panthers did not lose any ground in the state rankings, and bounced back to trounce Angoon at home. They bested Kake Wednesday night, and barring a total meltdown against the T-birds Thursday night after this issue went to press, Skagway will be the top seed and get a first round bye in next week’s Region V 2A Tourney in Ketchikan.
The Panther boys, meanwhile, had some great games at Tok, and led Angoon for three quarters in their first home game in over a month, but could not put together a full game for a victory in that stretch of five games in six days. Then came Kake. On Wednesday of this week, the Panthers fought off the T-Birds and finally finished a game strong for a 60-37 victory at home.

Crystal Ketterman drives for a bucket against the Eagles. JB

Lady Panthers coach Lara Labesky said her team is ready for regionals, and the Tok games gave them the tourney atmosphere they were craving. In the opener, Skagway faced Galena, with both teams tied for second in the state 2A rankings. Skagway controlled the game, winning 56-48, behind 25 points from Savannah Ames and 14 from Candi Ketterman.
However, Ames got in early foul trouble against No. 5 Tok in the next game, and played limited minutes, fouling out early in the fourth quarter with just 10 points, and the Panthers lost 51-40. Ketterman led the Skagway scoring with 17, and turned a lot of coaches’ heads, Labesky said. Both Ketterman and Ames were selected to the all-tourney team.
In the final game against perennial 2A power Ninilchik – three-time defending state champions and ranked No. 1 – Skagway played one of its best games of the season, Labesky said.
The Panthers beat the Ninilchik press and led most of the game. Skagway also employed a 1-3-1 zone to collapse on Ninilchik’s big girls, with Ketterman doing a great job down low as the Panthers held a 19-16 lead going into the final quarter. But Ninilchik then went on a 16-8 run, during which Ketterman fouled out, and the Panthers fell 32-27.
“Even though we lost the game, we did so many things right,” Labesky said. “The girls were a bit down (after losing to Tok), but others didn’t expect much out of us (against Ninilchik), and we changed everybody’s minds. It couldn’t have been much better except for a win.”
Returning home, they made a great turnaround against Angoon. Skagway sprinted out to a 27-12 half-time lead, and survived a rugged third quarter in which two Angoon players fell hard and had to be taken to the clinic by EMTs with head and hip injuries. Undermanned, the Eagles managed just four second half points and lost 57-16, but they stayed closer to Skagway in the more subdued second game before losing 55-30. Ames scored as many points as the Eagles (see scoring below).
Skagway’s boys team is making great progress, said coach Mark Jennings, and should have been able to pull out a pair of victories against Minto and Wainwright-Alak at the Tok tourney. After struggling in a 55-33 loss to Sand Point in its opening game, the Panthers jumped out to a seven point lead against Minto. But they allowed Minto to get back into the game by half-time, and traded leads with the Lakers in the second half. Skagway led by three going into the final quarter, but ended up losing 57-54. The Panthers had three players in double figures: Trevor Cochran 15, Thomas Knorr 13, and Garrett Henry 11.
In its tourney finale, the Panthers “fell asleep” in the second and fourth quarters, Jennings said, as they let a close game get away from them, and lost 55-43. Henry led the Skagway scoring with 16 points. Knorr and Henry made the all-tourney team.

Garrett Henry scoops a shot during a Skagway fast break. JB

Against Angoon in the opener of its home series, the Panthers gave the region’s second place team a scare, leading by as many as six in the second and third quarters. Hank Burnham had a “break out game,” scoring nine of his 13 points in the third quarter, and John McCluskey was outstanding on defense. But Skagway could manage just eight points in the final quarter, all by Henry, who finished with 14. Skagway turnovers led to a dozen fast break points for Angoon in the final quarter, most of them by Baily Johnson, who finished with 27 to lead the Eagles. Angoon made the run despite losing guard Stephen Johnson (14 points) to fouls early in the final quarter.
Knorr showed up for the second game with a large bandage and his elbow wrapped, the result of six stitches from a floor burn in the first game. But he played through it, and the Panthers stayed with the Eagles in the first quarter. A pair of three-pointers by Trevor Cochran opened and closed the quarter, with Skagway down 18-15.
But Loren Sands led a second-quarter run by the Eagles, netting nine of his game-high 28 points, and Angoon never looked back, cruising the rest of the way to a 91-50 win. Skagway again had a trio in double figures: Henry 16, Knorr 13, Burnham 10. Makeah Twitchell scored in the final minute, engineering the biggest roar from the crowd which stuck with the boys the whole game.
Skagway may have been tired, but Jennings said that was no excuse. They fell down in some fundamentals such as blocking out and making solid passes, and have gone back to working on those in practice the past week, he said.
“We are working on keeping focused the whole game,” Jennings said.
The Kake games this week are crucial, he added before the series. Facing a team with a similar record, the Panthers felt they could snag two wins at home to end the regular season.
“We need a couple of wins for some momentum going into tournament,” Jennings said.
A couple wins could keep them on the opposite bracket from league-leading Hydaburg, he said. That’s where they would have the best chance of scoring a couple of upsets and a return trip to state tourney.
“This is a great group of kids,” he concluded. “They have a positive attitude in practice, and I hope that attitude will carry over to their performance.”
PANTHER CLAWS - After Skagway’s Savannah Ames opened the first Angoon game with a 15-foot jumper from the left, she caught up to referee Ryan Ackerman on the way down the court, and whispered, “That was a boys ball.” The referee smiled, blew the whistle, and ran into the coach’s room and switched balls.
Boys coach Mark Jennings has been ending each huddle by shouting “Wake up!” to his players. It is helping them stay focused, but he told them that if they have any more fourth quarter letdowns, he’ll start using an alarm clock.

UPDATE: Skagway won both games on Thursday night as well. The girls are seeded first at the 2A Tourney in Ketchikan this week and have a first-round bye. They will play the winner of Kake vs. Klawock in the semifinals at 3 p.m. on March 19. If they win that game, the girls earn a trip to State Tourney and would play in the championship game at 6 p.m. on Saturday. With their home sweep over Kake last week, the boys grabbed the sixth seed at tourney and will play third seed Hoonah in the quarterfinals at 1 p.m. on March 18. If Skagway wins, it will be in the semifinals vs. the Angoon-Klawock winner on March 19 at 4:45 p.m. Boys championship is 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Varsity Boys - thru 3/11
(5-9 conf., 5-14 overall)
Feb. 26-28 at Tok Tourney: Sand Point 55, Skagway 33; Minto 57, Skagway 54; Wainwright-Alak 55, Skagway 43 (complete scoring unavailable)
March 1: Angoon 60, at Skagway 44: ANG- B. Johnson 27, S. Johnson 14, Sands 13, Frank 2, Jamestown 2, C. Kookesh 2; SGY- Henry 14, Burnham 13, Knorr 9, Cochran 6, McCluskey 2.
March 2: Angoon 91, Skagway 50: ANG- Sands 28, S. Johnson 27, B. Johnson 24, C. Kookesh 8, Jamestown 4; SGY- Henry 19, Knorr 13, Burnham 10, Cochran 6, Twitchell 2.
March 10: Skagway 60, Kake 37: SGY- Knorr 24, Burnham 12, Henry 12, Cochran 11; KAK- T. Jackson 18, Friday 4, Wooten 4, Cavanaugh 4, Morris 4, S. Jackson 2, Mach 1.
March 11: Skagway 63, Kake 38: SGY- Knorr 28, Henry 21, Burnham 4, Twitchell 4, Cochran 3, Wischnat 2, McCluskey 1; KAK- T. Jackson 10, Morris 10, S. Jackson 6, Friday 5, Cavanaugh 5, Mach 1, Wooton 1.

Varsity Girls - thru 3/11
(11-1 conf., 14-3 overall)
Feb. 26-28 at Tok Tourney: No. 3 Skagway 56, No. 2 Galena 48; No. 5 Tok 51, No. 3 Skagway 40; No. 1 Ninilchik 32, No. 2 Skagway 27 (complete scoring unavailable).
March 1: Skagway 57, Angoon 16: SGY- Ames 18, Potter 10, Can. Ketterman 9, Neitzer 6, Harris 6, Cry. Ketterman 4, Glo. Blanchard 1; Dyson 6, George 3, Isturis 3, J. Williams 2, S. Williams 2.
March 2: Skagway 55, Angoon 30: SGY- Ames 30, Cry. Ketterman 6, Neitzer 6, Potter 4, Can. Ketterman 3, Harris 3, Gra. Blanchard 2, Glo. Blanchard 1; ANG- Dyson 11, George 8, Jack 6, S. Williams 3, Isturis 2.
March 10: Skagway 50, Kake 27: SGY- Ames 19, Can. Ketterman 9, Cry. Ketterman 7, Go. Blanchard 6, Neitzer 4, Harris 2, Potter 2, Gra. Blanchard 1; KAK- Ekis 17, Gregory 5, Earnest 3, Sternod 2.

March 11: Skagway 36, Kake 31: SGY- Ames 18, Can. Ketterman 10, Harris 4, Cry. Ketterman 2, Neitzer 2; KAK- Ekis 10, Earnest 8, Gregory 6, Cavanaugh 4, Aceveda 2, Sternod 1.