By Jeff Brady 

Every other year, the Skagway High basketball teams endure a long, two-week road trip to Yakutat and Prince of Wales Island, but this year the trip grew into a third week. 

Each team had a fairly even slate of wins and losses and were anxious to get home on the mainline state ferry Matanuska. Then everything stopped, literally. 

“We were in the middle of the ocean by Kake and all of a sudden I saw the waves, and we were still,” said women’s coach Nate Jennings. “I said, ‘We’re not moving.’ And we sat there for three hours till we knew what was going on, and they fired up the one engine and we limped in (to Juneau.” 

The teams then stayed initially either on the ship or in the Auke Bay ferry terminal, making statewide news. White Pass & Yukon Route and Jan Wrentmore came to their aid with donations of motel rooms the final nights in Juneau before they were able to make a flight home, as the ferry remained stuck there waiting for engine parts (see ferry story on Page 1). 

But the kids saw a lot of movies and held together. 

“That’s the thing I was most pleased with, everybody kind of kept each other’s spirits up,” Jennings said. “Just a great group of kids to hang out with, and we had a great chaperone, Denise Sager. She was extremely helpful through it all. It was great for the team as a whole to live like that for a few weeks.” 

The court play before the delayed trip home wasn’t bad either. The women powered past Yakutat and Thorne Bay, worked in a close scrimmage with Ketchikan’s JV team, and played tough in losing efforts to Klawock, the region’s best team so far. 

Jennings said the Panthers just couldn’t crack an early 12-point lead by Klawock in the first game but played better in the second game. The teams were tied at half and Skagway had the lead for a while before “we blinked twice and all of a sudden were down by 14.” 

But he said they learned a lot to take into a hopeful rematch in next month’s Southeast region tourney. Skagway will host Kake Feb. 22-23 in games that will determine the second seed in the tourney. It also will be senior night for Eliza Myers and Jessica Whitehead. 

The men also will be playing for at least a third seed when they take on Kake in their final home series of the season. They dispatched Gustavus and Yakutat easily, fell hard to defending champ Thorne Bay, but played well in losses against second-place Hydaburg and a split at Klawock. 

Coach Ross Barrett said they should have swept Klawock but the second game, a three-point loss, came down to “them making shots and us missing shots.” 

He said his young team has made a lot of progress and is in better shape. They have been using the extra practice time this month to implement new defensive sets and more plays. 

“That first half of the season we were really working on how we were going to play, so a lot of the second half is just going to be about really fine-tuning that and try to work on playing a little more up-tempo,” Barrett said. “The idea being that when we get to regionals we are a different team, a better team.” 

The regional tourney is in Ketchikan March 4-7. Games will be aired on KHNS and streamed live. Check skagwayschool.org for details. 

NET RESULTS (through Jan. 31) 

SHS WOMEN (7-3 league, 12-7 overall) 

Jan. 13-14: Skagway 49, at Yakutat 14; Skagway 51, Yakutat 13. 

Jan. 16-17: at Juneau: Skagway defeated Thorne Bay (score unavailable); Skagway 28, Thorne Bay 22. 

Jan. 20: at Ketchikan JV 32, Skagway 26. 

Jan. 22-23: at Klawock 50, Skagway 31; Klawock 59, Skagway 42. 

SHS MEN (9-5 league, 912 overall) 

Jan 10-11: at Skagway 55Gustavus 18. SGY – Goebel 25, S. Myers 18, J. Sager 5, Bricker 2, Lawrence 2; GUS – Glenn 9, Patrick 5, Wagner 4. SGY 18-21-10-6=55, GUS 10-2-3-3=18. Skagway 61Gustavus 31: S. Myers 29, Goebel 19, Ozuzun 6, Burnham 2, Lawrence 2, Sager 2, Bricker 1; GUS – Shatswell 18, Patrick 11, Wagner 2. SGY 15-20-10-16=61; GUS 8-10-6-6=31. 

Jan. 13-14: Skagway 2, Yakutat 0 (forfeit); Skagway 58, Yakutat 13. 

Jan. 16-17: at Juneau – Thorne Bay defeated Skagway (score unavailable), Thorne Bay 66, Skagway 31. 

Jan. 20-21: at Hydaburg 46, Skagway 37, Hydaburg defeated Skagway (score unavailable). 

Jan. 22-23: Skagway 41, at Klawock 35; Klawock 50, Skagway 47.