The Panther boys took two wins against the Thorne Bay Wolverines during the Prince of Wales road trip earlier this month, showing improvements all around.
During the two-week trip, the team played six games in the span of seven days, and faced defeat against Klawock and Hydaburg in the first four games.
But in their final two against Thorne Bay, the team switched up their defenses and rallied to success.
Coach Scott Lesh said the trip was a great bonding experience for the team.
“When you go on a trip and you lose distractions, it’s really good,” he said.
During their winning matches, he said they played some of the best basketball he’s seen all year. Their mentality shifted, and they began to realize the value of possessing the ball and working as a team.
Kota Shindo excelled as point guard, scoring 17 points for the team against Thorne Bay. Alex Ackerman made smart choices and shots, and Colton Belisle played really well in the last couple of games. Overall, Lesh said the team is starting to figure it out.
The team not only had to face challenges on the court, but off the court too, completing two weeks worth of homework before returning to school.
Lesh said the team spent a minimum of two hours a day working on class work. On ferry rides it was closer to 12. For Danny Brady, Steaven McKnight and Shindo, the trip continued on as they traveled to Anchorage for state Drama, Debate and Forensics competition, a total of two weeks away from school.
“It’s intense when you have a school that holds their students like we do academically,” Lesh said.
Games this weekend against Porter Creek from Whitehorse were cancelled, but the team will continue on to regionals in Juneau on March 2-5. Until then, Lesh said the team will focus on building confidence, lessening turnovers, possession of the ball, and better rebounding.
“We’re going to continue to play our very best basketball and continue to improve each and every game.”