Two girls starting on Panthers boys team

No match for Kake in opener

By JEFF BRADY
For just the second time, Skagway High School is fielding a coed basketball line-up against varsity boys competition.
Not since Courtney Mason played a year with the boys team in 1996 have the Panthers been in this situation, and this time two girls are starting.
Even with the loss of all-state guard Savannah Ames and defensive leader Crystal Ketterman to the college ranks, the two-time Southeast 2A girls champs probably could have made a run at a third title. But only four players stepped forward this year: seniors Tiffanie Potter and Michelle Harris, and sophomores Sierra Moran, and Teslyn Korsmo. They ended up joining the boys squad.
Girls coach Lara Labesky expected to have her own team and said the change to a coed squad came about at the “last minute.”
Noticeably absent from the court are seniors Candi Ketterman and Audrey Neitzer, both key elements of Skagway’s championship run. Ketterman, an all-conference selection last year, said she decided not to play for several reasons, and Neitzer is graduating early. A couple of sophomore reserves also elected not to play.
The four girls that stuck with hoops join a boys team that can use them. Boys coach Mark Jennings will co-coach the team with Labesky. The two coaches have worked together for years with the junior high program, so sharing the sideline comes easy.
Both said the girls will help the boys squad, which has endured two rough seasons.
“The boys have responded pretty well,” Jennings said. “They know those girls know how to win.”
Labesky said the girls are adapting to the boys game. Potter, an all-conference wing last year, moved right into the point on the boys team, and Harris, an excellent rebounder who is used to wrestling boys, also is starting.
“I think Michelle was well-prepared because of wrestling,” Labesky said. “Their game hasn’t changed - we’ll need to make adjustments with more time with guys. Fundamentally they are sound, so they can bring the ball up the court. They can’t jump as high or run as fast as the guys but they can still play defense on them.”
Boys starters are all-conference senior Trevor Cochran, who has been able to move from point to his more natural post position, and two sophomores, improved shooter Jake Henricksen on the wing, and gritty Josh Cotton down low. Sophomores Tom Littlefield and Lachlan Dennis are first off the bench, and the rest of the squad includes juniors Makeah Twitchell, and Larry Martinez and freshman Tylor Forrester.

Trevor Cochran gets a scoop shot to fall against Kake. JB

All lifted weights in the summer - and it shows - and most of them played and improved their shots in the off-season.
How are the boys adapting to playing with the girls?
“I don’t think there’s really any problems,” Jennings said, “with the exception of a few who aren’t starting because of it. All those girls work hard. It’s rubbing off on (the boys). They are working harder in practice. It will just take time.”
The Panthers had a rough opener at home last weekend against Kake, last year’s Southeast 2A runner-up and a pre-season favorite with all its starters back.
Kake jumped out to a big lead in the opener, with Skagway not getting a field goal until the final seconds of the opening quarter. Down 39-12 at the half, Skagway started the third period with a 9-0 run behind three 3-pointers by Henricksen - he would lead the Panthers in scoring both nights with 11 points. But the Panthers could not stop the T-Birds’ transition game, which got going again and never let up in a 77-27 win (boxscores will be posted on web).
A patient offense allowed Skagway to take a brief lead in the early minutes of the second game, with Cotton, Henricksen, Cochran and Potter all scoring in the opening quarter. But early foul trouble hampered Cochran and Cotton, and Kake cut loose on a 20-2 run in the second quarter. Skagway never recovered as the T-Birds won by an even bigger margin, 80-21, posting four players in double figures for the second night.
The outcome was not unexpected, given the fact that the girls on the team had just five practices under their belts following the volleyball season.
Labesky said she is not use to “losing like that,” but said the Kake games were “hopeful, in a way.... In general the boys played better than in any of the games last year.” With more practice time and conditioning over the next couple weeks, she sees the team getting better.
Jennings said they have to concentrate on rebounding and getting back on defense to prevent fast breaks.
“It’s tough to take lumps right now but I like what I see from the kids,” he said. “It was a blessing to have those girls out there. They hustle.”
They’ll have to do better to stay with defending state runner-up Hoonah, but he figures they can compete with half the league’s teams.
“We’ll be competitive, it will just take time,” Jennings said. “We’re like a new team. It’ll come with patience and time. I already see flashes of good things.”
Labesky is more optimistic.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” she said. “There’s a challenge to the girls to adjust their games, but having the girls on the team is elevating the boys. The improvement should happen pretty quickly.”
The two coaches know their own players pretty well, and their teaming up may be Skagway’s biggest advantage.
“I really enjoy coaching with Lara,” Jennings said. “She has a good eye for the game. It’s great having two sets of eyes on the bench.”
The Panthers will be busy over the holidays, with a scrimmage in Haines this week, and then the annual alumni game on Dec. 30. The following week they host defending state runner-up Hoonah Jan. 3-4 and the annual Don Hather Tourney Jan. 5-7.

SHS VARSITY
Dec. 16- Kake 77, at Skagway 27: KAK- Knudsen 16, Rostad 16, Cavanaugh 13, Stewart 12, Friday 8, Aceveda 4, Mach 4, Jackson 2; SGY- Henricksen 11, Cochran 6, Littlefield 3, Dennis 3, Harris 2, Potter 2.
KAK 21-18-16-22=77
SGY 6-6-12-3=27

Dec. 17- Kake 80, at Skagway 21: KAK- Knudsen 26, Rostad 15, Jackson 11, Cavanaugh 10, Mach 5, Stewart 4, Friday 4, Aceveda 4; SGY- Henricksen 11, Potter 5, Cochran 2, Cotton 2, Harris 1.
KAK 20-20-24-16=80
SGY 7-2-8-4=21

Volleyball team drops pair to end season at State

The Skagway High volleyball team never got that rematch it wanted with region champ Hoonah at the State 1A-2A-3A West tourney in Anchorage.
Both the Panthers and the Braves fell twice to other schools and the Southeast schools were out of the tournament on the second day.
In the opening round, Kenny Lake defeated Skagway 25-14, 25-15, and 25-12, and Nome beat Hoonah 25-20-25-22 and 25-18. Both victors fell in the semifinals, and 3A Barrow beat Dillingham in the finals.
In Friday’s consolation round, Su Valley out-lasted Hoonah 25-18, 27-29, 16-25, 25-20, and 15-9. Then Ninilchik knocked off Skagway 25-19, 25-18 and 25-15,
Coach Becky Jensen quipped, “We lasted longer than Hoonah.”
She said the kids had a problem getting used to a huge court without the usual volleyball markings, adding they “just got scared.”
Even with the successive losses, Skagway landed Candi Ketterman on the all-tourney team, and she shared player of the game honors with Audrey Neitzer.