Ketchikan Girls Top Thunder Mountain for Southeast Crown

    The Ketchikan Lady Kings pose with their Region V 4A girls championship trophy after defeating the Thunder Mountain Lady Falcons 51-29 on Saturday in Kayhi's Clarke Cochran Gymnasium. (photo courtesy Ketchikan High Schoo

      JUNEAU, ALASKA (KINY) - The Ketchikan Lady Kings defeated the Thunder Mountain Lady Falcons for the Region V 4A Girls Basketball Tournament Championship on Saturday in Kayhi’s Clarke Cochran Gymnasium.

      This was the Lady Kings seventh Southeast region title in eight years, and all five starters for Ketchikan are set to return for next season.

      The Lady Kings (14-1 overall, 8-1 conference) led the Lady Falcons (8-9/3-7) 12-5 after eight minutes of play, survived a second quarter scare and never looked back en route to a 51-29 win.

      “It was stressful,” Ketchikan coach Kelly Smith said. “I know we had the lead most of the game, but you can never count that group of Thunder Mountain kids out.”

      Thunder Mountain closed to within two, 12-10, at the 3:20 mark of the second quarter. But Ketchikan freshman Bree Johnson hit back-to-back three-point shots from opposite sides of the court for an 18-10 advantage. Ketchikan finished the half in a flurry: Lady Kings junior Jenea Rhoads blocked a shot with 1:05 remaining then scored and was fouled for a three-point play. After a Thunder Mountain turnover, Ketchikan sophomore Lindsay Byron hit a three-point shot and junior Hayley Gilson stole an opponent’s pass and fed sophomore Hya Bandoc, who scored at the halftime buzzer for a 28-12 lead.

      Smith said Rhoads is the team’s main player on the floor.

      “She is tough,” he said. “I feel she is at least a second team All-State kid. She couldn’t shoot outside six feet when she was a freshman, now she steps out and hits threes for us.”

      Ketchikan pushed the lead to 35-19 after three quarters, and the Lady Kings were never threatened in the final eight minutes.

      “I thought the special thing was that eight kids kind of had their special moments today, which is pretty exciting,” Smith said. “I thought we stayed aggressive. We had struggled this season with long stretches where we won’t score for four or five minutes and that was how the second quarter started until Bree hit those threes. Then we finished on a 16-2 run. I thought from all five positions on the floor today we stayed aggressive. Some kids that don’t usually attack the basket just put their head down and made a play. It was really nice to see.”

      He said the Lady Falcons deserve respect and credit for the work they’ve put in. “They were the only team to beat us this year,” he said.

      The Lady Kings will represent the Southeast region at the ASAA March Madness Alaska 2021 Basketball State Championships on March 25-27, hosted by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District at Palmer, Wasilla, and Colony high schools.

      Juneau School District Superintendent Bridget Weiss cited COVID-19 concerns in saying Juneau teams would not be approved to travel to the state tournament whether they had qualified through a region tournament championship or an at-large bid. The Lady Falcons had hoped to be an at-large bid selection.

      “They shot well and got us on our heels. We lost to a top two seed in the state, which speaks well of our program and conference,” Thunder Mountain coach Andy Lee said. “They are a good team, and in the last two weeks we played Juneau-Douglas and Kayhi in six close games with two trips to Ketchikan in nine days. I am very proud of our Lady Falcons.”

    Stat Line -

    Ketchikan: Jenae Rhoads 12 points (3-5 free throw, 1 3-pointer, 3 field goals, 2 personal fouls, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block); Bree Johnson 9 (1-3 ft, 2 3-pt, 1 fg, 4 pf, 4 rb, 1 st, 2 ast, 1 b); Hya Bondoc 9 (5-10 ft, 2 fg, 1 pf, 5 rb, 1 st, 2 ast); Lindsay Byron 9 (1-3 ft, 2 3-pt, 1 fg, 1 pf, 10 rb, 2 st, 1 b); Shaelyn Mendoza 7 pts (1-1 ft, 3 fg, 3 pf, 5 rb, 2 st, 2 ast); Paige Boehlert 5 pts (1-4 ft, 2 fg, 3 pf, 5 rb, 2 st, 4 ast); Hayley Gilson 0 pts (1 pf, 1 rb, 1 st); Gabby Maas 0 pts (1 pf, 2 rb). Kayhi went 12-26 at the free throw line, had five 3-point shots, 12 field goals, 14 turnovers, 40 rebounds (16 offensive, 24 defensive) and 16 team fouls.

    Thunder Mountain: Riley Traxler 8 pts (6-11 ft, 1 2-pt, 5 pf, 4 rb, 2 ast); Mariah Tanuvasa-Tuvaifale 6 pts (1-2 ft, 1 3-pt, 1 2-pt, 2 pf, 3 rb); Mary Neal Garcia 4 pts (2 2-pt, 2 pf, 3 rb); Olissa Oliver 2 pts (1 2-pt, 1 rb); Mary Khaye Garcia 2 pts (0-2 ft, 1 fg, 3 pf, 1 ast); Samantha Dilley 2 pts (1 fg, 2 pf, 1 rb); Sydney Strong 2 pts (1 fg, 3 pf, 3 rb); Grace Sikes 2 pts (1 fg); Iyanah Brewer 1 pt (1-2 ft, 3 pf, 4 rb), Avery Kreischer 0 pts (2 pf, 1 bl, 1 st, 9 rb). The Lady Falcons went 8-16 at the free throw line, had one 3-pt field goal, nine field goals, 27 rebounds (20 off, 7 def), 20 turnovers, and 24 team fouls.

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