Girls go 6-0, boys 3-3 on long road trip
By JEFF BRADY
Usually, the most dreaded road trip on the Panthers’ schedule is the one they have to take to Prince Wales Island every other year. The kids are gone for more than a week, in which they play six games at three schools. Hard rims, local referees and the usual away atmosphere make it tough, even for the best teams, to come home with a few wins.
Then throw in Klawock teams that are defending region or state champs and you have a tall order ahead.
So, for the Skagway girls to go 6-0 on the island and the previously unbeaten boys to come away with a 3-3 split was somewhat of a milestone. Both teams now sport 7-3 conference records with just four league games left in the regular season.
The girls leapt to third spot in the league standings with wins over Thorne Bay (41-32, 36-28), Klawock (31-29 OT, 27-11), and Hydaburg (42-16, 47-10).
The boys are currently second or third in the region. They posted big wins over Thorne Bay (62-30, 68-24), had rough losses against state favorite Klawock (76-33, 56-25), and then split at Hydaburg. Skagway won the first game 65-60 in overtime, but fell 63-59 the next night. The Panthers cut the lead right at the very end, knowing a smaller margin win for the Warriors would mean Skagway would technically take the series and affect their seeding later for region tourney.
“Overall, the going 3-3 felt okay,” said coach Kent Fielding. “I mean, I’d have liked to have gone 4-2, but we lost Dominique (Foote) during that first game in Hydaburg (and he is an outstanding defensive player) on a bogus call – we have filed a complaint – and the second game we just didn’t play good defense. We did pull out the series. Zack (Wassman) and Trevor (Cox) scored 7 points in the final 32 seconds to win the series, but
I would have liked to get both those games.”
The two guards lit it up from the outside in Hydaburg. Wassman hit 23 in the opener, and Cox netted 33 in the second game. Donovan Henson has also been playing well and led the team with 24 points in one of the Thorne Bay victories.
The girls were challenged in both Thorne Bay games, and worked on a “triangle and two” defense that would help them against defending region champ Klawock.
“They played great on the island,” said co-coach John O’Daniel. “We had moments of not playing so well, but the triangle and two with Hails (Hailey Jensen) on their point guard and Kara (Whitehead) on their best shooter shut them down…. We played a great defensive game.”
Hannah O’Daniel and Zoe Wassman led the team in scoring, but the big wins over Hydaburg allowed other players to be involved in the point production. Jade Cook finally had a big game, hitting layups and baby hooks, and Whitehead also got into double figures.
The Lady Panthers were without center Cook and backup center Al Weber (both were delayed returning from a student council function in Juneau) against Haines early this week, and it threw the team game off, O’Daniel said.
The bigger Glacier Bears had their way in the frontcourt and won big, 48-5 and 48-12.
O’Daniel said the bench kids got to play a lot for the home fans and chalked up the series to a “learning experience.”
They were back in the gym at 6 a.m. Wednesday to work on blocking out and positioning for rebounds, playing against a man-to-man defense, and breaking presses.
The boys will have a turn at Haines next week. At press time a home game was scheduled for Monday, Feb. 17, but activities director Cindy O’Daniel said the boys might instead travel to Haines to scrimmage Craig and play Haines on Sunday. Check for updates on the News or school website.
Both teams are home for the last time on Feb. 21-22 against Angoon (senior night is Saturday), and then go to Yakutat Feb. 24-25.
“It’ll be interesting to see how we do against Yakutat,” Fielding said. “It looks like Yakutat beat Haines by 3 (this week), so Haines might be a good test for us.”
UPCOMING VARSITY SCHEDULE
Feb. 21-22 Angoon (final home games and senior night)
Feb. 24-25 at Yakutat
March 5-8 Regionals at Ketchikan
March 15-19 State at Anchorage
Watch for results and updates on the SHS Basketball Page on the News website, and follow the team’s page on Facebook.