Despite no trip to State, both teams satisfied with winning seasons

By JEFF BRADY and ZOE WASSMAN

The Skagway High basketball teams finished their seasons with earlier that expected exits from the SE Region 1A Tournament in Ketchikan. After posting good wins in the opening quarterfinal round, they met stiffer opposition in the semifinals, and did not recover in the consolation round. Below are game reports along with some comments collected by student reporter intern Zoe Wassman who was in Ketchikan.

BOYS
March 5 – Quarterfinals:
(3) Skagway 43, (6) Kake 38

The Panthers had the first-round jitters in the first half, as they missed lay-ups and allowed the lower seed Kake T-birds to grab a 17-16 halftime lead. But Skagway got the lead back quickly at the start of the second half and never gave it up. Ethan Goebel knocked down a shot in the opening seconds Zack Wassman and Trevor Cox connected, and a steal and a lay-up by Dominique Foote gave the Panthers a bit of a cushion as they pushed the lead to 33-23 at the end of the third quarter.

Kake was in foul trouble, and it hurt them in the end. Valdemor Aceveda knocked down three big 3-pointers in the final quarter to get Kake within four points with about two minutes in the game, but he would foul out in the final seconds after scoring 24 of his team’s points. Skagway got a big trey from Goebel and some key free throws down the stretch from Donovan Henson to seal it for a balanced Skagway team effort.

Henson said he felt good about his team’s first game at regionals.
“We all played as a team and we came out with the win, barely, at the end there,” he said.

March 6 – Semifinals:
(2) Yakutat 56, (3) Skagway 41

This was expected to be a close game, given that the two teams had gone down to the wire in Yakutat a week earlier. Skagway was determined to get the win this time and advance to the region final, and the Panthers got off to a great start. Zack Wassman and Trevor Cox knocked down a pair of treys and Donovan Henson was clutch early on as Skagway jumped out to a 12-4 lead. However, it would not last long. Yakutat found a hole in the Skagway’s defense down on the baseline, where Josh James scored seemingly at will with reverse layups. He hit four straight buckets, and then Kluane Russell knocked down a trey to give Yakutat its first lead. Another trey by Cox put Skagway up again, and then James scored for a 15-15 tie at the end of the quarter.

Russell and James were left open again early in the second quarter, and the Eagles never gave up the lead. Skagway hit a scoring drought and the Eagles’ lead grew to 30-19 at the half.

The Panthers looked to get back into the game at the start of the third quarter with three straight buckets by Ethan Goebel, Henson and Wassman to cut the lead in half, but then hit another shooting drought. Skagway trailed 45-29 at the end of the period.

The Panthers played hard until the end, and Goebel was able to knock down a pair of 3-pointers in the final quarter, but they would get no closer than 13 points and lost 51-46.
Yakutat went on to lose to top-ranked Klawock in the championship game, 74-45, but earned the second state berth with a 57-42 win over Hydaburg.

March 7 – Consolation Round:
(4) Angoon 39, (3) Skagway 32

Skagway needed this game to stay alive in the consolation round for a berth to state tournament, and again the team got off to a fabulous start. Dominique Foote, Henson and Cox all hit treys early as the Panthers quickly built a 10-point lead. Skagway was able to frustrate Angoon’s best player, Duncan O’Brien, down low, but he was still able to hit some shots to cut the lead in half by the end of the first quarter. Then, in the second quarter, Angoon found another player to turn to. Issac Hall came off the bench to hit three buckets, and give the Eagles the lead, 26-20 at the half.

After intermission, Wassman knocked down a 3-pointer, but it would be Skagway’s only points of the third quarter. Angoon stretched its lead to 34-23. Skagway played some great defense in the final quarter to try and get back in the game, but just could not capitalize on Angoon’s mistakes. They were getting good shots and getting to the free throw line, but nothing was falling.

Angoon was up by 14 with two minutes to go when coach Fielding emptied his bench, giving the younger members of the team some tourney minutes. Their enedrgy, especially on defense, gave the Panthers a late surge but the deficit was just too big to overcome. Angoon prevailed 39-32, and the Skagway season was suddenly over way too early for a team that could have made it to state.

Wassman said he wished they had played better and got another shot at Yakutat in the consolation finals, but he said they had a good season.

“We had a great season,” said coach Kent Fielding. “I don’t remember a boys’ team in the last nine years that went 9-0 at home, and there’s only been two winning seasons for the boys in the last decade. All five of the team’s starters were leading scorers in at least one game, and in our best games they all scored near double-digits.”

Hannah O'Daniel fires a shot from the wing. - Jeff Brady

Hannah O’Daniel fires a shot from the wing. – Jeff Brady

GIRLS
March 5 – Quarterfinals:
(4) Skagway 37, (5) Klawock 32

There were no early tourney jitters for the Lady Panthers in their opener versus Klawock, but it took a great defensive effort to hold off the Chieftains who were bolstered by a big crowd down the stretch.

Skagway opened up a quick 8-0 lead with a quick series of buckets by Zoe Wassman, Hailey Jensen and Jade Cook, who was a beast in the post. Skagway opened up a 14-5 first quarter lead, one of their best starts of the season. After Hannah O’Daniel started off the second quarter with an old-fashioned three-point-play, the Panthers cooled off a bit but still maintained a 19-10 at the half.

The third quarter stared off much as the first, with Cook, Wassman, O’Daniel and Kara Whitehead scoring. The Panthers defense was stout and they would lead 33-19 going into the final period. But the Chieftains were saving up, as they came out hot in the fourth quarter and cut the Skagway lead to six points midway through the quarter. In the end, a bucket and a free throw by Wassman (9 points) and some big defensive rebounds by Cook (14 points) saved the 37-32 win.

Cook said she was really proud of how her team played against Klawock.

“We didn’t panic, which I was really proud of since this is a team that is usually quite high up there in Southeast,” she said.

She said senior Hannah O’Daniel led the team well by staying calm on the court.

Cook said the drawing of fouls in the first half helped her team to become more confident.

March 6 – Semifinal:
(1) Kake 60, (4) Skagway 29

The Lady Panthers would need a great game to knock off the region’s top team this year. Kake had gone undefeated in the regular season, but they were not invincible. For a half, Skagway played them tough, but the Thunderbirds would have too many weapons.

Skagway took an early lead on a bucket by Jade Cook, but Kake would reel off 11 straight points until the Panthers scored again. Kake led 11-6 at the end of the first quarter. Skagway narrowed the lead to three points a couple of times early in the second quarter with a jumper by Hannah O’Daniel and some good free throw shooting by Cook, but the Panthers had trouble stopping Kake star Tanisha Ashenfelter. She hit for treys and drove the middle. Kake built a 28-17 halftime lead.

Skagway came out flat after halftime, and Kake took advantage, outscoring the Panthers 16-5 in the third quarter. Zoe Wassman scored on a trey and a put-back, and O’Daniel hit three more jumpers, but that was it for the Skagway scoring in the second half. Kake looked strong in a convincing 60-29 win.

Kake was upset in the girl’s championship by Yakutat, 45-42, but rebounded to beat Angoon 43-33 to earn the second state berth.

March 7 – Consolation Round:
(3) Angoon 46, (4) Skagway 19

These two teams had split a series in Skagway and were evenly matched, but the scoring woes from the night before continued for the Lady Panthers. Angoon’s O’Brien sisters scored 9 of the their team’s points in the opening quarter to go up 14-4. Skagway held the Eagles to just six points in the second quarter, but could manage only five points themselves. A nice feed from Cook to Kara Whitehead cut the lead to 20-9 at intermission.

Angoon was as hot in the third quarter as Skagway was cold, building a 33-13 lead. Skagway had good energy, but except for a few jumpers by O’Daniel and some never-say-die buckets by fellow senior Cook toward the end, the effort would not pay off.

Angoon won by a lopsided score of 46-19 that was a totally unexpected.

It was not the way Skagway wanted to end what had been considered a good season – a winning one at that – after not putting a girl’s team on the floor last year.

“Although the ending was tough, we came a long ways from the start of our season,” Cook said afterwards.

“Any winning season is a good season, but when you have a team with such little in-game experience, it makes it a great season,” added senior O’Daniel after her last high school game.

“I couldn’t have had a better senior year and I am so proud of my team.”

SHS TOURNEY AWARDS
All Conference: Zack Wassman, Trevor Cox, Jade Cook, Hannah O’Daniel
3-Pointer Contest Winner: Trevor Cox
Free Throw Contest Winner: Hannah O’Daniel