JUNEAU, ALASKA (KINY) - The Ketchikan Lady Kings played their final game of the season Friday, falling in the 2021 March Madness Alaska 4A Girls Basketball State Championship semifinals to the tournament top-seed Bartlett Golden Bears.
The Lady Kings made an aggressive push in the second half to close within six points, 51-45, at the final buzzer.
With 55 seconds remaining in the final quarter, Bartlett senior Alapese Matautia hit a three pointer to make it a two possession game, 48-42, with Bartlett ahead.
Kayhi junior Shaelyn Mendoza hit three free throws in the final 35 seconds but Bartlett countered with free throws by All-State senior guard Amelia Uhila and classmate Adam Kaganak to earn the win.
“It was an amazing effort,” Ketchikan coach Kelly Smith said of Mendoza’s efforts. “It is not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.”
Mendoza was left off the All-State team though she was the most valuable player in Southeast this year.
“She showed at the highest level she belongs,” Smith said.
Bartlett turned a tight first quarter advantage into a 30-17 lead at the half.
Ketchikan looked to Mendoza and junior Jenae Rhoads in the second half. The duo helped the Lady Kings open the third quarter with an 8-0 run before Bartlett’s Kaganak stemmed the tide with a deep three and a 33-25 advantage. Ketchikan outscored Bartlett 10-4 the remaining three minutes of the quarter to close within two points, 37-35.
Ketchikan freshman Bree Johnson fouled out two minutes into the fourth quarter. Mendoza hit a drive to tie the score at 37, and after Bartlett’s Uhila scored, Kayhi sophomore Lindsay Byron tied the score at 39. Kaganak gave the Golden Bears the lead for good with under five minutes remaining on a rebound put back for a 41-39 lead.
Ketchikan shot 37% from the field and 47% from the free throw line; Bartlett shot 40% from the field and 47% from the line. The Lady Kings had 23 rebounds, the Golden Bears 39. Ketchikan forced Bartlett into 25 turnovers while committing 15.
Bartlett moves into the championship game against Lathrop at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday at Palmer High School.
The Golden Bears pushed their record to 15-0. The Lady Kings fell to 16-2.
Ketchikan: Shaelyn Mendoza 21 (4 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals); Jenae Rhoads 11 (1 bl, 3 rb, 1 st); Lindsay Byron 6 (2 ast, 10 rb, 4 st); Paige Boehlert 4 (1 rb, 2 st); Hyacinth Bondoc 2 (1 rb, 1 Șt); Bree Johnson (2 ast, 1 bl, 2 rb, 1 st); Gabriella Mas (2 rb).
Bartlett: Adam Kaganak 17 (8 rb, 1 st); Amelia Uhila 15 (3 ast, 2 bl, 12 rb, 3 st); Kendal Hodgdon 7(1 rb, 1 st); Desiree Brown 5 (1 ast, 1 bl, 7 rb, 1 st); Alapese Matautia 5 (3 rb); Marie Oliver 2 (3 ast, 5 rb, 5 st); Nyakoat Ruot (2 bl, 3 rb).