Skagway hoop teams finish third at region

SKAGWAY SHOWSTOPPERS – Above, Jake Henricksen gets airborne on a drive, while Jessie Ellis eyes the bucket after out-running two Yakutat players. Below, Kaylie O’Daniel drives hard for two, and Mickey Wilson takes advantage of a Bryce Jones screen in his big game. Boys shots by Lara Labesky, girls shots by Tom Miller, Ketchikan Daily News

Girls drop runner-up game after making finals; boys get first tourney wins since ‘03

By JEFF BRADY

A new Southeast 2A tourney format gave the upstart Skagway boys an opportunity to play for a shot at state tourney, but put the young Lady Panthers in the precarious position of having to win one more game after falling in the region championship.
Both teams lost their finales on “Runner-up Saturday” and finished third with 2-2 tourney records, so neither team will go to Anchorage next week.
In previous seasons, the Skagway girls would have gone to State by simply making it to the championship game. But not this year under a format intended to give teams in the losers bracket something to play for. After losing in the championship to Yakutat, the Lady Panthers had to face Kake, a team they had beaten earlier. What should have been a repeat victory turned into a disappointing end to an otherwise successful season for the young team.
“We played three pretty good games and unfortunately our worst game of the year happened to be that last game,” said girls coach Lara Labesky.
She said everyone at regionals knew Skagway was the second strongest team by far, but chalked up the performance as a learning experience for a young team.
“We had a really good season,” she said. “They should be proud of themselves even though they are sitting at home. We have three or four really good years coming up.”
The boys fared well in the new format. After dropping its opener to Yakutat, Skagway bounced back to topple both Kake and Klawock, their first wins at 2A tourney since 2003. They had the chance to play the spoiler against Hoonah in the runner-up game. The Braves had lost to Angoon in the championship, but out-lasted the Panthers to carry on to State.
“We did great,” said boys coach Chris Wassman. “They were tough... In the last game we just didn’t have any legs left.... We made a good run at it, the fans were awesome and had that place rocking at times.”

GIRLS GAME REPORTS

Quarterfinals: Skagway 51, Angoon 25. Paige Hahn was hot out of the gate in the girls’ tourney opener, scoring the first five points en route to an 18-point performance. The girls jumped out to an 18-4 first quarter lead and never stumbled. A 10-0 run at the end of the third quarter gave Skagway a big 42-21 lead, and coach Labesky was able to get everyone in the game. SGY- P. Hahn 18, Ellis 12, O’Daniel 10, E. Herbig 5, C. Hahn 2, K. Henricksen 2; ANG- S. Braley 14, R. Braley 6, Frank 3, Crossman 2.

Semifinals: Skagway 40, Kake 31. The Lady Panthers jumped out to a 19-9 lead at the half, but Kake came back early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead down to three points. Skagway then responded with an 8-2 run over the game’s final five minutes, getting some nice drives from guard Kaylie O’Daniel and key steals by Emily Herbig and Jessie Ellis. SGY- P. Hahn 17, Ellis 15, O’Daniel 7, Herbig 1; KAK (unavailable).

Championship: Yakutat 45, Skagway 36. Except for the first five minutes of the game, Skagway gave the defending region and state champ Eagles a good run. In the early going, Yakutat forward Sharnel Vale could not be stopped, scoring the game’s first seven points. It was 11-0 before O’Daniel made a bucket at the five minute mark. Another by Kaitlyn Surdyk made it 13-4, but Esther Esbenshade closed the first quarter with a 3-pointer.
Skagway continued to get some shots to fall in the second quarter, but Vale remained hot as the Eagles stretched the lead to 32-14 at the half. They led by 20 after three quarters. Skagway stepped up its pressure in the final quarter, with Cierra Hahn, Paige Hahn, Ellis and O’Daniel getting some big buckets after forcing Yakutat turnovers. Skagway outscored Yakutat 17-6 in the final period, but ran out of time.
“We played fantastic against Yakutat, it was just too big a hole to climb out of,” Labesky said. “We took everything away from them in the second half. No one came had come within single digits of Yakutat in three years.” SKG (unofficial)- O’Daniel 11, P. Hahn 11, Ellis 10, C. Hahn 2, Surdyk 2; YAK- Vale 14 Fraker 11, Esbenshade 10 (rest of scoring unavailable).

Runner-up Game: Kake 37, Skagway 30: The Lady Panthers could never get a run going in this game after falling behind early to the T-birds, who led by as many as eight points in the second quarter. After Herbig made a big 3-pointer and Ellis got a steal and a lay-up toward the end of the half, cutting the lead to 20-17, Skagway appeared to be ready to take charge. However, the Lady Panthers came out flat in the third quarter, missing its first four shots and netting only three points in the quarter. Two big treys by Tanea Alsup pushed the T-bird lead to 29-20.
Ellis scored the first two buckets of the final quarter, giving Skagway some hope, but Kake countered and the Lady Panthers hit another drought midway through the quarter, at one point missing four shots in one possession. Kake got some big buckets from its forwards and led by as many as 10 with 90 seconds to play. A trey by Paige Hahn with 12 seconds left made it a little closer. She led Skagway with 10 points (other scoring unavailable), but the team shot just 8-for-47 from the floor and missed numerous lay-ups.
“Nothing’s for sure, nothing’s given,” said Labesky, adding that her girls did not want to go out that way and were ready to play another game.
The girls finished with an overall record of 15-6. Three girls made the all-conference team: Paige Hahn, Jessie Ellis and Emily Herbig. Seniors Korsmo and Cierra Hahn made the senior all-academic team, and Korsmo and Kaitlyn Surdyk were on the region good-sports team.
“It’s too bad for Tess and CC,” Labesky said. “They had a great year and this was their one chance to go to State.

BOYS GAME REPORTS

Quarterfinals: Yakutat 67, Skagway 60. This tourney opening battle among the region’s fourth and fifth seeds featured eight lead changes before Skagway lost two starters to fouls in the final quarter. Skagway took the lead briefly 8-7 in the first quarter on guard Thomas Etue’s reverse lay-up and then again just before half-time on a pair of free throws, but a three-pointer by Yakutat tied it 38-38.
After Skagway took the lead 45-44 midway through the third period, Yakutat got some easy transition buckets to recapture the lead at the end of the quarter. The Panthers started out the final quarter with buckets by Mickey Wilson and Jake Henricksen to go up 55-52, but Yakutat responded with some key steals, rebounds and buckets by Stephen Adams. Skagway lost Henricksen with about three minutes to play, and then forward Josh Cotton with about a minute to play. A three-point play by Brent Beckner got the lead down to four with 45 seconds to go, but Yakutat converted free throws to seal the win. SGY- Beckner 19, Henricksen 15, Etue 12, Herbig 8, Wilson 4, Cotton 2; YAK- Adams 30, Jackson 19, C. Ivers 10, K. Ivers 3, Munoz 3.

Consolation round: Skagway 56, Kake 40. Skagway secured its first tourney win since 2003 with a solid second half performance. The Panthers opened with a 8-2 run ignited by three big steals and a block by Cotton, but the T-birds clawed back to actually take the lead twice in the second quarter. After leading 27-26 at the half, Skagway put together a nice run as Henricksen nailed three jumpers and scored a lay-up in the third quarter. The Panthers carried an eight-point lead into the final quarter, and kept scoring with seniors Nate Herbig and Lachlan Dennis providing a spark off the bench. With a big lead down the stretch, coach Wassman was able to empty his bench.
The tourney win was a long time coming, and propelled the Panthers to an even greater performance in its next game. SGY (unofficial) - Wilson 15, Henricksen 13, Herbig 8, Etue 7, Cotton 6, Beckner 4, Dennis 2. KAK (scoring unavailable).

Consolation semifinal: Skagway 76, Klawock 74 OT. This Saturday morning game was the most exciting of the year for Skagway fans that made the trip to Ketchikan, and many listening at home. It was almost a home game for Klawock which drew a big following from nearby Prince of Wales Island, but Skagway fans were making just as much noise. Wilson, after being out with an ankle injury the second half of the regular season, saved his big comeback performance for just the right time. In addition to a huge scoring game, he played great defense on Ryan Armour, one of the league’s best players.
Skagway battled back from being down by eight in the first quarter to take the lead at the half, 39-37, after a huge trey by freshman Bryce Jones. Wilson had 21 points at the half, connecting on all of his drives to the bucket, but Klawock had an equalizer with the pair of Ric Carle and Armour, as the Chieftains took back the lead, 55-54, at the end of the third quarter.
Skagway could have put the game away at the free throw line but instead had to rely on some key jumpers by Henricksen and Beckner down the stretch to keep them in it. Beckner gave Skagway a 68-66 lead with 54 seconds left in regulation, but Klawock’s Sean Hall scored after grabbing an offensive rebound to knot the score. Each team had another couple chances but could not convert. Klawock blew a lay-up at the buzzer.
In the overtime, Beckner knocked down a trey and Wilson fed Dennis for a big score to give Skagway the lead. After a Wilson free throw put Skagway up 75-71, Armour hit a trey to cut it to one point with 17 seconds left. Klawock fouled Skagway again, but Beckner wasn’t able to seal it. Klawock then missed its chance, losing the ball, and fouling Wilson who converted another free throw with .9 on the clock. Wilson finished with 33 points, according the tally by radio announcer Josh Coughran (other scoring unavailable).

Runner-up game: Hoonah 49, Skagway 34. The Panthers did not have much in the tank, playing just five hours after its big overtime win. They kept the game close in the first quarter, which ended 7-7, but Skagway fell behind 21-15 at the half. Henricksen opened up the third quarter with a quick trey and a bucket, and later got fouled on a shot behind the arc and made all three free throws to make it 25-23. But from then on, Hoonah went on a big run, and Skagway didn’t have the legs to catch up. The Braves led 35-23 at the end of the third quarter, and coasted in the fourth quarter.
With about a minute to play, and the game out of reach, Wassman called a time out and put all of his seniors on the court to close out their careers. “It was a good ending for those seniors,” he said (scoring unavailable).
The boys finished with an overall record of 9-12. Making the all-conference team was Thomas Etue. Making the senior all-academic team were Brent Beckner, Jake Henricksen, Lachlan Dennis, and Nate Herbig. Beckner and Dennis also were on the region good-sports team.
Wassman said the program’s looking really good for next year and the team should compete for the region title. “We have talented athletes coming back,” he said. “I want them working in the off season.”