By JEFF BRADY
Both Skagway High basketball teams finished their seasons with some thrilling games at the Region V 1A Basketball Tourney.
The girls and boys teams won their opening games before falling to the top seeds in the semifinals. Their final games in the consolation round of the tourney were decided in the closing seconds.
Here are game reports from the tourney, followed by comments from coaches and a list of award winners.
BOYS (Final record 5-10 league, 8-17 overall)
March 1 Round 1 – Skagway 39, Kake 37: SGY- E. Goebel 20, Ackerman 11, S. Myers 6, C. Belisle 2; KAK- Friday 18, Merry 8, Davis 7, Knudsen 2, Parton 2.
SGY 12-6-5-16=39; KAK 9-8-9-11=37
The Skagway boys made a statement that they came to play in the tourney opener, running out to a 12-2 lead over Kake in the first quarter. But the T-Birds, led by Simon Friday, would fight back to make it a close game until the end. Skagway held just a one-point lead at the half, but gave up the lead midway through the third quarter. For the next five minutes it seemed like Skagway could not finish a possession due to a turnover, but its defense remained stellar.
Skagway got down by as many as five points, but then quickly tied it back up with about three minutes left in the game, thanks to some big shots by Alex Ackerman and Silas Myers.
Then, after the teams traded buckets, a strange set of circumstances occurred.
Myers was fouled after a big steal and went to the line with 1:20 to go. As Myers was being presented the ball, the Kake coach called a 30-second time-out – which he did not have. This resulted in a bench technical foul. Myers, who had missed at the line earlier, made the second of his two shots, and then Ackerman sank both technical free throws. Skagway found itself with a three-point lead and the ball. Ethan Goebel was huge the rest of the way, driving for a layup and then sinking the clinching free throws for a 39-35 lead with 9.5 seconds left. Kake got it down to two on a Friday drive just before time ran out.
Boys coach Scott Lesh said he was happy with how the team played Kake.
“To come out and beat them felt good,” he said.
March 2 Seminfinal – Hydaburg 59, Skagway 37: HYD- Eaglestaff 28, Olson 10, Trout 7, Tolson 5, Miramontez 3, Nix 2, Sanderson 2; SGY- E. Goebel 14, Ackerman 12, Myers 3, G. Goebel 3, W. Belisle 2, Brady 2, C. Belisle 1.
HYD 17-23-13-6=59; SGY 3-9-13-12=37
Skagway had almost beaten Hydaburg in Skagway last month, but the undefeated Warriors weren’t going to allow this game to get close. Skagway was in the game very early, but top scorer Goebel was whistled for three fouls in the first quarter. Lesh let Goebel stay in the game until he picked up his fourth foul diving for a loose ball, and he had to sit. Hydaburg built a huge 40-12 halftime lead behind center Michael Eaglestaff’s 19-point half.
The Panthers finally got their offense on track and played excellent defense in the second half. Seniors Ackerman and Goebel, who never fouled out, made good shots. Down 53-25 at the start of the final quarter, Lesh demanded of his players “everything you’ve got,” and they responded by outscoring the Warriors 12-6 in the final frame.
Lesh said Hydaburg had improved and were pretty hard to stop. Hydaburg advanced to defeat Klawock in the championship game, 51-48.
March 3 Consolation Round – Thorne Bay 44, Skagway 43: TB- Congdon 12, B. Schwab 11, Olsoe 8, S. Schwab 7, Tripple 6; SGY- E. Goebel 27, Ackerman 5, C. Belisle 5, Myers 2, McKnight 2, Cook 2.
TB 12-9-10-13=44; SGY 10-16-8-9=43
Skagway still had a shot at a state tourney berth, but it would need to play three incredible games to do it, starting against a scrappy Thorne Bay team. These two played a great series in Skagway early in the season, in which the Panthers prevailed, and it was a back-and-forth affair from the start.
Goebel played one of his best games of the season and helped the Panthers go up by seven midway in the second period, as a couple of Thorne Bay starters had to sit with three fouls. Skagway led 26-21 at the half.
The Panthers crashed the boards hard to start the third quarter, but some costly turnovers prevented them from adding to the lead. Thorne Bay capitalized behind a great effort by Brayden Schwab and Jacob Congdon and cut the lead to 34-31 going into the final quarter.
Thorne Bay kept hitting shots and tied the game at 36-36 with 3:35 to play. The teams then traded buckets but the Wolverines grabbed their first lead 40-38 with 2:52 left in the game and boosted it to 44-39 with 1:33 to go. The Panthers battled back in the final minute. Colton Belisle made a big shot, and Alex Ackerman hit from the line to get Skagway within one point.
Then, with just 18 seconds to play, Skagway thought it had taken the lead on a great drive and bucket by Goebel, with a foul to set up a 3-point play from the free throw line. But one of the referees overruled the other and said the foul came before the shot, which was waved off. Skagway still had the ball underneath, but could not convert in those final seconds. A good shot from the wing by Gavin Goebel just missed at the buzzer.
The loss to Thorne Bay was frustrating, because the winning bucket and a possible free throw were taken away, Lesh said. Thorne Bay went on to defeat Kake but then lost to Klawock in the second place game.
Coach Scott Lesh season-ending comments:
“I was really happy with the season as a whole,” Lesh said. “We won more games than last year. Losing those three seniors (Ethan Goebel, Alex Ackerman, Colton Belisle) will really hurt next year; it will depend on how the other kids step up, really.”
He said the kids will need to continue working on handling pressure and improving ball handling and shooting skills. He wants them to play in the off-season and will work with the school on arranging clinics.
He thanked fellow coaches Savannah Ames and Paul Myers for helping out the boys team as well.
“We’ll see what we can do next year.”
Boys awards: All-Conference – Ethan Goebel; All-Academic – Alex Ackerman, Colton Belisle, Ethan Goebel; Good Sports – Steaven McKnight, Alex Ackerman.
GIRLS (Final record 7-8 league, 8-11 overall)
March 1 Round 1 – Skagway 23, Hoonah 19: SGY- E. Myers 7, Cox 7, Selmer 3, Lahrman 3, Rau 1; HNH- A. Skaflestad 7, L. Skaflestad 6, George 2, Glover 2, Williams 2.
SGY 2-7-4-10=23; HNH 2-6-6-5=19
After a sluggish first quarter by both teams, Hoonah came out firing in the second quarter and at one point led 8-2 before the Lady Panthers finally got some shots to fall. Skagway led 9-8 at halftime with eight-grader Eliza Myers ruling the post.
Skagway could never seem to shake Hoonah in the second half. The Braves led 14-13 going into the final quarter, but soon lost two starters to fouls. Mocha Lahrman hit a big 3-pointer from the corner to put the Panthers up 16-14, and Kiara Selmer added one from the baseline, but the Braves answered right back and then regained the lead, 19-18 on a traditional 3-point play by Alaska Skaflestad with 3:30 to go.
Down the stretch, Hailey Jensen was everywhere on defense and finally got a shot to fall, and Madison Cox added to the lead at the free throw line.
Up by four, the Lady Panthers were able to run out the clock in the final minute. Skagway had been expected to win this game after beating the Braves easily in Hoonah a couple weeks ago, but this is the tourney. There were a lot of “whews” from the coaches and parents.
Girls’ head coach Paul Myers said playing a strong defensive team like Hoonah presented some challenges, but they made adjustments at halftime and “the girls did what they needed to do.”
March 2 Semifinal – Klawock 34, Skagway 21: KLA- Borromeo 12, Marvin 8, Edenshaw 6, V. Smith-Turpin 4, Wylie 2; SGY- Cox 9, E. Myers 7, K. Whitehead 4, Rau 1.
KLA 6-13-9-6=34; SGY 6-2-5-8=21
The Lady Panthers matched top seed Klawock bucket-for-bucket in the first quarter, 6-6, but the Chieftains’ press in the second quarter forced numerous Skagway turnovers. Klawock went on a 13-2 run, and that was the difference in the game.
For the rest of the way, the teams played evenly. The Klawock press was still effective, but Skagway was able to break it and Cox and Eliza Myers picked up their scoring in the second half.
But just when the Panthers looked like they were on the verge of making a run in the final quarter, the balanced Chieftains would answer. The closest Skagway got was to within nine points with about four minutes left in the game.
The team had trouble with Klawock’s height and will have to try and work on things next year to shut them down inside, Myers said. Klawock held on to advance by narrowly defeating Kake in the championship game.
March 3 Consolation Round – Angoon 40, Skagway 38: ANG- O’Brien 17, Wagner 12, S. George 9, D. George 2; SGY- Myers 21, Jensen 8, Whitehead 4, Rau 3, Cox 2.
ANG 10-15-9-6=40; SGY 7-10-6-15=38
The Lady Panthers were primed to move on through the consolation round to make a bid for second place, but they ran into an improved Angoon team. Skagway posted an early 5-2 lead on two buckets by Kara Whitehead, but gave it up midway through the first quarter. Eliza Myers had a sensational 10-point second quarter and was able to get to the free throw line several times to convert, but the Angoon duo of Elizabeth O’Brien and Faith Wagner (a recent addition from Gustavus) pushed its lead to 25-17 at the half.
In the third quarter, Skagway was getting great shots but it seemed like none would go in until senior Hailey Jensen knocked down a big 3-pointer. Angoon would answer with a trey by Starr George and go up 34-23 going into the final quarter.
Even though a comeback looked difficult, Skagway had hope. Angoon was in serious foul trouble and started losing players. Both Jamestown and Wagner were gone by mid-quarter, but George hit another bomb to keep Angoon in front 40-37. Then it was all Skagway until the end. Myers and Delaney Rau converted shots, and Jensen also knocked down two more. The Lady Panthers just ran out of time in the end and lost by two.
Coach Myers said they just needed a few seconds more to pull out a win. They will work on not being afraid to step in front of strong players like O’Brien to slow them down. Angoon advanced against Yakutat and then lost the second place game to Kake.
Coach Paul Myers season-ending comments:
“I think the girls all responded well to Savannah (co-coach Ames) and I,” Myers said. “They played as hard as they could, with all the traveling around, ferrying and being crammed in a house.
“Overall they played exceptionally well, with a lot of them playing just three months out of year. They really grew in those three months.”
The girls’ team also will miss their three seniors, but he said they have a lot of good players coming up in the program. “We have to draw them into the gym and keep them going all year.”
Girls awards: All-Conference – Hailey Jensen, Madison Cox; 3-point Champion – Madison Cox (made 11 in one minute); All-Academic – Kiara Selmer, Delaney Rau, Hailey Jensen; Good Sports – Eliza Myers, Delaney Rau.