The Skagway High School boys plunged into the season after just two weeks of practice with a trip to the Lumen Christi Invitational in Anchorage Dec. 15-17. While the boys lost all three games by larger margins each outing, they showed improvement, said coach Scott Lesh.
Skagway’s closest game was the opener against host Lumen Christi Catholic High School. After a “super jittery” first quarter, Lesh said they climbed back in the game, eventually falling 36-28. The Panthers then lost to Birchwood of Eagle River, 41-26. But in their tourney finale against a strong JV team from 3A Bethel, the Panthers were hot out of the gate and were down 12-8 after one period.
“It was one of the best first quarters since I’ve been coaching here,” Lesh said.
Bethel poured it on after that quarter en route to a 61-28 win, but the Skagway coach saw a lot of things that will help the team prepare for its Jan. 3 home opener against Klawock and the Don Hather Tourney.
“We did well for the amount of time we’ve had to work on things in practice,” Lesh said, noting that during those first two weeks some players had a DDF tournament and senior leader Ethan Goebel was wresting at regionals and state.
Other seniors on the squad are Alex Ackerman, who made all-tourney in Anchorage, and Colton Belisle. There are two big juniors, Micah Cook and Steaven McKnight; two quick sophomores, Danny Brady and Wyatt Belisle; and two outstanding eighth graders, point guard Gavin Goebel and tall Silas Myers.
Lesh said he is still working with a fairly inexperienced group that has not played a lot together, but he thinks they can peak at regionals and possibly make a run to challenge favorites Kake and Klawock. In the meantime the team will work on specific offenses for what they face, defense and positioning, and rebounding. Skagway has a lot of size but needs to be stronger going to the boards.
Over on the girls’ side of the gym, new coach Paul Myers has stepped up from the junior high ranks to take over the varsity Lady Panthers this year, and he is excited about the season ahead.
“They have taken really well to the conditioning,” Myers said. “We’ve worked on ball handling, and we’re already starting to work on our offensive and defensive plays, so we’re moving right along. I think we will have a really good team this year.”
This will be one of the largest teams Skagway has fielded in years, with 11 on the girls roster: seniors Hailey Jensen, Delaney Rau, Kiara Selmer; juniors Kara Whitehead and Mocha Lahrman; sophomores Madison Cox and Sahara Kilic; freshmen Eliza Myers and Jessica Whitehead; and eighth graders Peyton Rodig and Asya Kilic. Seventh grader Tatum Sager is on the practice squad.
Both Skagway teams will face Klawock Jan. 3-4 and then play host to the Don Hather Tourney Jan. 6-7. All three Whitehorse high schools are coming down to face Skagway, Klawock and the Thunder Mountain JVs from Juneau. Watch the Skagway News Facebook page for results. – JB