By DAN FOX
Skagway’s boys and girls basketball teams find themselves in similar positions this year, with players trending towards the younger end of the spectrum.
The girls basketball team lost five players, putting the Lady Panthers currently at eight players. Coach Paul Myers said there is some good talent there.
“I think we’re going to have some pretty good starters and backup as well,” Myers said.
His players are working hard and learning fast, and are pushing to be ready for the Don Hather International Basketball Tournament in early January.
Several of the younger players have come up through the junior high basketball team, where Myers and assistant coach Savannah Ames have coached them as well.
“It’s fun to kind of see them come up into the high school level now,” Myers said.
With practices already underway, Myers said the girls are working on some techniques that will be a surprise to the rest of the region.
Scott Lesh, coach for the boys basketball team, said his players are on the younger side as well.
“We have some talent in our freshmen and some of those younger kids,” Lesh said.
While Lesh said the rest of the region didn’t lose too much in the way of players, Skagway’s boys team lost three starters to graduation last year.
Ethan Goebel, Alex Ackerman and Colton Belisle were big contributors, Lesh said, but having a younger set of players can pay off big in the long run.
“I’m excited about working with some of these younger kids, I don’t know how we’re going to do this year, but I’m really excited about the future,” Lesh said. “It’s really nice, the middle school coaches have done a great job kind of bringing them up to speed and everything, you can tell the eighth graders and seventh graders, their basketball IQ is definitely increasing.”
The boys team is currently made up of pair of eighth graders, two freshmen, two juniors and one senior.
“I think it’s been a few years since we had a group of kids really enjoy the sport, and I think we’re seeing that come up in the middle school and early high school years right now, which is really cool,” Lesh said.
The teams’ first games are right after the start of the New Year, with home games on Jan. 2 and 3 against Hoonah. The boys will play at 6 p.m. both days, and the girls take the court at 7:30 p.m.
Right after those first two games, the Don Hather will take place, from Jan. 4-6 in Skagway.
“I definitely encourage people to get out and start watching more basketball in the next few years, because I think with the boys and girls, with the middle school programs developing and coming up through high school, I think over the next two to four or five years we could have some really good games,” Lesh said.