State Tourney Blog by Jeff Brady

March 16 Championship • Skagway vs. Yakutat, 7:35 p.m.

11:00 pm Live Courtside! -- Awards for Skagway: Good Sports (selected by coaches) - Jayce Ellis and Polly Brown; All Tourney - Jesse Ellis, Rori Leaverton, Kaylie O'Daniel, Kaitlyn Surdyk; and the championship trophy and nets. Watch for photos coming soon. See you back in Skagway Friday. Thanks for checking the blog, everyone. What a thrill to follow this team to the top again.

10:45 pm Live Courtside! -- Tikigaq just won its third straight boys championship and its second over Klawock. Chieftains were down just 3 at the half but Tikigaq was amazing in the second half, winning big 74-56. Next up are the awards.

STATE CHAMPS AGAIN Live Courtside! -- Skagway seniors Kaylie, Jesse and Kaitlyn hugged at center court and were joined by the rest of the starting five, and then the whole team. Then there were TV and print interviews, and a lot more hugs from coaches, parents and fans. Now the team has settled in to watch the boys final between Klawock and Point Hope. Awards will be after this game.

FINAL!!! Live Courtside! Skagway 34, Yakutat 23! -- After one last Eagle bucket, Skagway runs out the clock and wins second straight state championship. Player of the game for Skagway Rori Leaverton.

:32 Q4 Live Courtside! Skagway 34, Yakutat 21 -- Yakutat foul.

1:55 Q4 Live Courtside! Skagway 34, Yakutat 21 -- Yakutat time, trying to foul to stop the clock.

2:15 Q4 Live Courtside! Skagway 34, Yakutat 21 -- Skagway called time but apparently not in time and got a 5 second call on an inbounds play, but it followed what could have been the clincher. Surdyk hit a trey on a nice inside-outside feed from Korsmo.

4:08 Q4 Live Courtside! Skagway 29, Yakutat 21 -- O'Daniel fed Ellis for a bucket to start the quarter, but Fraker hit a 3 on the other end. Then it was Ellis with the big assist to Leaverton with an open lane left. Yakutat time.

End Q3 Live Courtside! Skagway 25, Yakutat 18 -- Not much scoring at the end of the quarter. Skagway picked up its fifth team foul, but only Surdyk has 3. One more quarter. Skagway ball.

3:18 Q3 Live Courtside! Skagway 25, Yakutat 17 -- Yakutat was patient coming out and Fraker and Elle E made a couple shots to cut the lead to 6. Ellis just answered with a spectacular shot after drbbling behind her back. Tina E at line for Yakuat.

Halftime Live Courtside! Skagway 23, Yakutat 13 -- A line of Skagway boys, a mix of SHS high schoolers and college students up here, have painted their chests spelling S-K-A-G-W-A-Y, but when they turn around they spell K-I-C-K-@-$-$. Ellis is back and walking fine. Second half about to start. Yakutat will have the ball.

End Q2 Live Courtside! Skagway 23, Yakutat 13 -- Yakutat made a little run to end the half, cutting the Skagway lead to 10 points, starting with a three-point-play inside by Ellen Esbenshade. Leaverton and Kaitlyn Surdyk hit some free throws, and Korsmo cleaned up another bucket on the inside for Skagway. During the final play of the half, Yakutat's Nadine Fraker missed on a drive but Ellis may have comed down on someone's foot. She limped off the court, though it did not look bad. We'll see how she is coming back out on the court for the second half.

2:57 Q2 Live Courtside! Skagway 20, Yakutat 6 -- Yakutat time. Tina Esbenshade just made a layup on a break, the Eagles first points since midway in the first quarter. Skagway just missed a couple shots and Yakutat has the ball.

5:47 Q2 Live Courtside! Skagway 16, Yakutat 4 -- Skagway time out as Polly Brown just entered the game. Leaverton made a sweet bounce pass to O'Daniel for a layup.

End Q1 Live Courtside! Skagway 14, Yakutat 4 -- Panther offense is heating up. Ellis hit another bomb, Rori Leaverton drove for a pair of buckets, and Anna Korsmo hit an inside shot. Fans are yelling "Panther Power!"

3:11 Q1 Live Courtside! Skagway 5, Yakutat 4 -- We are off to another defensive start. Yakutat got the first points at the 5:45 mark on a pair of buckets by Ellen Esbenshade, but Skagway just answered with a bucket and a trey by Jesse Ellis.

7:40 PM Live Courtside! -- Starting five being introduced. Skagway crowd is loud. I counted at least 75 fans in blue and gold.

7:33 PM Live Courtside! -- Two minutes till introductions. Skagway fans are spread out among two sections behind the Panthers, who are the home team in white if you are watching on TV or the webcast.

7:15 PM Live Courtside! -- The 1A awards are being handed out after their championship games. The 2A Girls Championship is now due to start at about 7:45 or later.

Preview-- This will be the fifth meeting between Skagway and Yakutat this year, in what may possibly be the friendliest rivalry in sports. The two teams are close and pull for each other, but it will be all business tonight. Skagway won the first three meetings: 40-26 in the Chevak Tourney final, and 34-23 and 44-36 at home last month. Then Yakutat won its only meeting, 31-30, on a last second shot in overtime by Jocelyn Jensen. She is not at State because of a violation of team rules before the tourney, but Yakutat has played well here without her. They have rolled over two lesser opponents and Skagway will be their first real test. The Panthers spent the day taking it easy and getting in a little shopping to keep their minds off the game. Last year they were the first Skagway team to win a state basketball championship, and this year they have a chance to do something incredibly special. On her Facebook page, Jesse Ellis said, "Gotta leave it all out on the floor!! Time to do work ladies!!"

March 15 Semifinal • Skagway vs. Cook Inlet Academy, 3:15 p.m.

Other semis update -- It's a final. Yakutat 55, Tri Valley 21. Skagway will defend its title against a familiar foe. Bring on the Eagles for a rematch of the 2009 state championship game and an opportunity for Skagway to avenge its loss in this year's region final. The boys final will be a rematch of last year's final between two-time defending champ Point Hope and Klawock. Both games should be sensational. Get out your rabbit ears and hook up to Ratnet Wed. night.

FINAL Live Courtside! Skagway 48, CIA 29 -- It's over. CIA made the score worse with some hard fouling in the final minute, but Skagway advances to third straight state championship game tomorrow night! Player of game for Skagway: Kaitlyn Surdyk (12 rebounds). Fan of the game: Alvin Gordon, "who postponed his vacation and left his wife at home to be here,", said the PA announcer. Skagway now awaits the winner of Yakutat and Tri-Valley, up next. We could have a rematch of the SE final if Yakutat prevails.

1:15 Q4 Live Courtside! Skagway 41, CIA 29 -- CIA just hit a couple of shots inside and called a time out. More fouls surely to come. Jesse hit front end of one and one.

2:04 Q4 Live Courtside! Skagway 40, CIA 25 -- Kaylie just hit two at the line as Skagway is in the bonus.

3:36 Q4 Live Courtside! Skagway 38, CIA 25 -- Time out. Skagway more patient with the basketball now.

4:27 Q4 Live Courtside! Skagway 38, CIA 23 -- Break in the action as EMTs tend to CIA 22, who looks like she hurt her ankle. O'Daniel made a big three.

End Q3 Live Courtside! Skagway 33, CIA 20 -- Kaylie got a steal in the middle with about 25 seconds left in the period, but the Panthers could not convert the last shot of the quarter. 8 more minutes.

1:06 Q3 Live Courtside! Skagway 33, CIA 20 -- Leaf picked up her fourth foul. CIA timeout to set up play after Kaylie made a free throw.

3:21 Q3 Live Courtside! Skagway 32, CIA 16 -- Ellis is having her way inside, making pretty drop-step moves. On the other side of the ball, Anna Korsmo is playing great defense on CIA center Kelsie Leaf, but "Googie" just picked up her third foul.

End Q2 Live Courtside! Skagway 24, CIA 12 -- Cook Inlet managed just one bucket in the second quarter, as Skagway again played relentless defense in the paint. Ellis was on fire, and Leaverton added another trey as the Panthers pushed the lead out to 12 at the end of the half. CIA center Kelsie Leaf picked up her third foul late so look for Skagway to pound it in the middle in the second half.

4:15 Q2 Live Courtside! Skagway 19, CIA 10 -- Skagway is starting to hit more shots and playing tough defense, especially inside. Kaylie opened the quarter with a trey, and Anna converted a couple of free throws. Then Jesse came up with a pair of buckets.

End Q1 Live Courtside! Skagway 10, CIA 10 -- Teams are heating it up on offense now. CIA grabbed the lead on a trey by Tiana McGahan, but Skagway answered with Rori and Jesse, who made a gutsy inbounds play, bouncing if off a CIA player and putting in a reverse layup.

3:07 Q1 Live Courtside! Skagway 2, CIA 2 -- Defense is the name of the game so far, neither team is making shots. Skagway got the lead early on a spot up jumper by Kaylie, and CIA answered.

3:10 PM Live Courtside! -- The Panthers have been running two sets of lay-up drills and are now working the outside game. Just like last year, they will be facing a bigger CIA squad, and this is where playing 4A teams back in December should help. Fans are showing up. There were about 40 yesterday cheering for Skagway, and there should be more here this afternoon.

Preview-- This will be a rematch of last year's semifinal, which Skagway won 46-40. Like Skagway, Cook Inlet has most of their team back from last year, and they rolled over Togiak 57-22 in the quarterfinals. This could be an even tougher test than Point Hope.

March 14 Quarterfinal • Skagway 45, Tikigaq (Pt. Hope) 42

March 14 - In other action today among SE schools, the Yakutat girls cruised to a big win over Seldovia and the Hydaburg boys were no match for 2X defending champ Pt. Hope. Klawock boys had an easy win over Bristol Bay to advance to the semis.

FINAL! Skagway 45, Tikigaq 42 -- live courtside! Skagway played tough defense but Pt. Hope's Donna Nash got a shot off that was short at the buzzer. And the Panthers grab a hard-fought win to advance to the semis tomorrow at 3:15 p.m. against the winner of Cook Inlet Academy vs. Togiak. Opponent will be known around 6:30 tonight.

Q4 5.9 Skagway 45, Tikigaq 42 -- live courtside! Anna Korsmo grabbed a big rebound off the miss and Skagway moved the ball well, keeping it away from the Harpooners. Pt. Hope did not get a foul until 5.9 sec and Rori Leaverton hit both ends of the one-and-one.

Q4 26.2 Skagway 43, Tikigaq 42 -- live courtside! Foul on Surdyk, Pt Hope on line with 1 and 1.

Q4 37.5 Skagway 43, Tikigaq 42 -- live courtside! After a layup by Pt Hope, Skagway's O'Daniel answered with a trey. Skagway got the ball back and Ellis at the line, but missed free throw. Pt. Hope ball.

Q4 1:29 Tikigaq 40, Skagway 40 -- live courtside! Skagway tied it up after two strong buckets by Ellis, but they just turned it over and Pt. Hope has it.

Q4 3:43 Tikigaq 39, Skagway 36 -- live courtside! Harpooners just hit a trey to take the lead after notching the score. Skagway time out.

End Q3 Skagway 32, Tikigaq 32-- live courtside! The Harpooners came back to tie the game right at the end of the quarter. Ellis came in with about a minute to play and picked up her fourth foul, but she is back starting the fourth.

Q3 3:55 Skagway 29, Tikigaq 23-- live courtside! Teams are racking up the fouls at the start of the third quarter. Ellis and O'Daniel have three fouls, as do two of the Harpooners.

Halftime Skagway 23, Tikigaq 16-- live courtside! Sorry for the delay, it's halftime and we just got the Wifi here in the Sully working. Skagway got the early lead on a pair of free throws from Jesse Ellis, but then had a bit of a cold spell, falling down 7-2 as Pt. Hope his some outside shots. But the Panthers rallied at the end of the first quarter as their defense picked up and they started hitting some shots. A trey by Rori Leaverton gave Skagway the lead 13-12 with 10 seconds left in the first quarter. The second quarter was all about the D. Point Hope got some buckets off turnovers on its press, and the teams traded leads a couple times. Then Skagway turned it up a notch, especially on the defensive end. Panthers were tipping lots of passes and diving for loose balls, and then pushing the ball up the court. Kaylie O'Daniel and Kaitlyn Surdyk converted lay-ups to give Skagway a 23-16 lead. Skagway ball to start the second half.

Start of Q1 v. Tikigaq -- live courtside! ??????????????? no wifi

March 12-13 Pre Tourney Ramblings

Sunday afternoon shoot-around practice and skills competition - The coaches said some of the team's best practices occurred during the past week when they got them on an early schedule. Today's practice at Bartlett High was more loose and basically a shoot-around. They also got to look at some of their opponents. Point Hope has some shooters that the Panthers will need to stop. Later that afternoon the fans showed up for the skills competition. Seniors Jesse Ellis and Kaylie O'Daniel participated in the three-point contest, and Jesse took second. In the Team Ball competition, senior Kaitlyn Surdyk teamed up with a boy from another school and finished just shy of second. The team was ready to head back to the hotel and get some rest. Lights out at 8 p.m. Twelve hours to game time.

Sunday morning at Leslie and Curt Dodd's house in S. Anchorage - The team arrived at 6, and a breakfast production was already underway. Most of us were going on five hours sleep. The Dodds had just come home from Hawaii the day before, and had had very little sleep since the tsunami sirens caused their hotel to be evacuated on Thursday night. But they got home Saturday and were still going to host this morning welcome for the team. Daughter Abby had made a "Welcome Panthers" sign to hang on the bannister, and everyone was up. The Dodds and the Korsmos did most of the cooking, along with coaches Labesky and Jennings.

Saturday morning flight to Anchorage - While waiting for the jet to arrive, everyone on the team has their phones out and is checking whatever it is kids check or text to pass the time at 7 a.m. Then one looks up and notices a light blue jet taxiing across the tarmac. "It's the Disney plane....with Tinkerbell" and someone starts singing the first lines of Once Upon a Dream" or "Wish Upon a Star" or some other Disney song with dreams in it. It's 7:30 after all but this team is awake. They had also learned that Jesse Ellis was the State 2A Player of the Year in a recent poll of coaches compiled by Alaska Newspapers (mostly western AK papers), but no other Skagway player made the All-State teams. This will add a little extra motivation come game time Monday. Point Hope had three players represented.

Watch for our nightly and game blogs here during March Madness Alaska in Anchorage starting March 12th.