Game updates are published with permission from the Ketchikan Daily News.
• By RICHARD LARSON •
Daily News Staff Writer •
Senior guard Isaiah Navales was unstoppable over a three-minute stretch in the second quarter, helping the Ketchikan boys basketball team overcome a slow start en route to a 60-41 victory over Soldotna on Saturday.
The Kings hit just one field goal in the opening nine minutes of the game and trailed 10-4 before Navales caught fire, draining a trio of 3-pointers and scoring 13 points in three minutes. Navales scored the first eight points of a 26-6 run that turned a six-point deficit into a 30-16 halftime lead.
The Kings led by at least 14 points throughout the second half as they cruised to a third-place finish in the Soldotna Tip-Off Tournament.
“He’s like a video game. When he heats up, guys know to get him the ball,” Kayhi coach Eric Stockhausen said.
Navales led the Kings with 18 points, including 16 in the first half.
The Kings (2-2) drilled eight 3-pointers in the contest, with Omar Mendoza, Jason James, Colton Paulsen, Alex Pihl and Matt Standley also tickling the twine from long range. Eleven players scored for the Kings, who had 10 players score in a tournament opening 59-26 win over Kenai.
Kayhi’s only loss in Soldotna came against No. 2 Colony as the Knights used a game-ending 19-4 run to break open a close game in a 67-53 semifinal victory. Colony beat Bethel 71-65, rallying from five points down in the fourth quarter to win the tournament title.
“We’ve got room to grow, but I am pleased with how we played,” Stockhausen said. “We got great energy from our guys, and we able to give a lot of good minutes to a lot of kids. Our kids are figuring out that it is a lot more fun when they are working together.”
A pair of free throws by Navales and a baby hook from Malik Almenzor provided the only Kayhi scoring in a sluggish first quarter. The Kings went more than five minutes without a point, but once they broke through, they broke through big.
A layup in transition by Navales was followed a few seconds later by a transition 3-pointer by Navales and the scoring binge was under way. Navales drew an offensive foul, then hit another 3-pointer to give him eight points in just under a minute of play. An inside bucket by Mo Bullock was followed by a couple more outside shots from Navales as a 10-4 deficit turned into a 19-13 lead in seconds.
Pihl dictated the offensive explosion, pushing the ball up the floor in transition and providing assists on five baskets before splitting the defense himself for a layup and following with a 3-pointer that put Kayhi up 27-15 and comfortably in control against a solid Soldotna squad.
“He made some of the prettiest passes I’ve seen in a long time from a high school point guard,” Stockhausen said. “He had a couple of crackback passes that when I saw what he was doing, I thought ‘Noooo,’ but he hit them perfectly. He just really kept us going. When the hometown crowd gets to see him again, they will get to see a great leader. They’ll have a chance to see the evolution of a point guard.”
Soldotna held a size advantage on the Kings, but Kayhi used aggressive interior defense to combat that size, forcing the Stars to settle for outside shots. Soldotna finished with six 3-pointers, but missed badly on a number of other outside shots. A majority of the Soldotna basketball players also compete on the Stars’ dominant football squad.
“They are the state champions, I think five times in a row,” Stockhausen said. “They have got some big, strong guys. We had to focus on taking away the paint, and that resulted in giving up a few more 3’s. But the kids did a fantastic job of taking away that size and strength advantage.”
Starting in the second quarter, the Kings also pushed the ball at every opportunity, scoring in transition after made and missed baskets by the Stars.
“That was the key,” Stockhausen said. “Alex being 6-2 is a tough matchup. They briefly tried to press us and we got a couple layups out of it, and they took the press off real quick.”
Colton Paulsen finished off a strong tournament with a nine-point game. The senior sank a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to give the Kings their largest lead of the night, 49-27.
Mo Bullock added eight points and continued to be a major factor on the boards, grabbing 10 rebounds. Pihl finished with seven points and isx assists. Three players added three points and four finished with two points, including junior Casey Hendricks. The Kings were 8 of 12 from the free-throw line.
Soldotna was led by 12 points from Austin Kruse. Colton Young scored 10 and Daniel McElroy finished with eight.
The Kings return home to compete in the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic, starting with a 9:15 p.m. contest against Wrangell on Friday. Homer, Klawock, Oregon City, Craig, West Valley and Seward round out the boys field of the Classic.
Bartlett 78, Eagle River 50
East Anchorage 73, Nome 68
Palmer 57, Chugiak 50
Service 53, Kodiak 50
Metlakatla 59, Cordova 54, OT
Petersburg 58, Skyview 36
Cook Inlet Academy 51, Nikolaevsk 43
Yakutat 69, Wasilla Lake 18
Thunder Mountain 65, Barrow 57
Grace Christian 71, Sitka 65
Kodiak 42, Chugiak 36
Bartlett 75, East 69
Service 58, Palmer 34
Thunder Mountain 70, Grace Christian 52
Sitka 68, Barrow 64
West Anchorage 70, Lathrop 65
Skyview 53, Cordova 49, OT
Metlakatla 34, Petersburg 32
Nome 64, Eagle River 46
Chugiak 56, Eagle River 52
Kodiak 54, Nome 42
East Anchorage 72, Palmer 55, OT
Service 68, Bartlett 60
North Pole 54, Delta Junction 47
West Valley 66, Hutchison 35
Monroe Catholic 75, West Anchorage 45
Skyview 51, Metlakatla 41
Sitka 69, Thunder Mountain 66
Nikolaevsk 27, Cook Inlet Academy 26
Yakutat 44, Ninilchik 16
Kodiak 62, Eagle River 10
Palmer 60, Nome 38
Moore Catholic (NY) 55, ACS 35
Barrow 43, Grace Christian 26
Sitka 60, Forest Lake 31
Kodiak 51, Palmer 23
University (Fla.) 36, ACS 27
East 56, Seward 20
Nome 62, Eagle River 37
Houston 36, Service 32
Delta Junction 52, Eielson 44
Kenai 38, Bethel 36
Soldotna 66, Thunder Mountain 48
Mt. Edgecumbe 33, Nikiski 31
Soldotna 57, Bethel 38
ACS 51, Westfiled (Virg.) 41
Kodiak 56, East Anchroage 45
Palmer 47, Seward 34
West Valley 61, Hutchison 54
Delta Junction 59, North Pole 30
Kenai 22, Mt. Edgecumbe 19
Nikiski 46, Thunder Mountain 36
Sitka 45, Barrow 30
Forrest Lake 38, Grace Christian 33
Houston 43, Nome 32
Service 48, Eagle River 47
• By RICHARD LARSON •
Daily News Staff Writer •
The Ketchikan boys basketball team scratched and clawed its way back from a nine-point deficit to take a lead in the fourth quarter, then Colony ran away in the final minutes, earning a 67-53 win in the semifinals Soldotna Tip-Off Tournament on Friday.
Kayhi went on a 17-6 run over an eight-minute span between the third and fourth quarters, taking a 49-48 lead early in the final frame, but Colony responded with a 19-2 spurt that turned a hard-fought contest into a 14-point victory.
“Our kids play some absolutely fantastic basketball,” Kayhi coach Eric Stockhausen said. “During that stretch of the game we played amazing basketball, we looked like one of the best basketball teams in the state, but when it went bad it went bad quickly.”
Damien Fulp, who has signed to played with the University of Alaska Anchorage, ended the Kings’ run with a 3-point basket and Colony quickly took control over the final minutes of the contest.
“We had a lull or two when the timing was just really bad, and they made some great plays at the right time,” Stockhausen said. “What unfortunately gets lost when the final score gets to 14 points, is just how well you played. We had an effort tonight that against all except for about three or four teams in the state would’ve ended up with a different outcome.”
Colony finished third at last year’s state tournament and is ranked No. 2 by Alaska Preps this season.
The Kings trailed by nine at the half after Fulp, who finished with a game-high 28 points, drilled a long 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
“That was a huge shot by him to end the half,” Stockhausen said. “We played great defense on him, but then he just backed up and hit a deeper shot.”
The Kings charged out of the locker room in the second half, scoring the first seven points of the half to cut the lead to 33-31 and causing Colony to call time out.
The Knights regrouped to build a 42-32 lead before the Kings surged back again, eventually taking the lead in the fourth quarter.
“It’s too bad that wasn’t in front of the home crowd. We really played well,” Stockhausen said.
A week ago the Kings opened the season with a 58-46 home loss against 3A Petersburg. The Kings rebounded for a 55-46 win over Petersburg the next night and then opened the Soldotna tournament with an easy victory over Kenai.
‘We’ve played very well so far in this tournament,” Stockhausen said. “Now we just have to finish strong with a game against a tough Soldotna team.”
The Kings face the tournament hosts in the third-place game at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Bethel beat Soldotna 46-40 on Friday to advance to a championship meeting against Colony.
Alex Pihl led the Kings with 18 points. Isaiah Navales added 14 points, and Malik Almenzor scored 12.
* By RICHARD LARSON *
* Daily News Staff Writer *
The Ketchikan boys basketball team bolted to a big, early lead and cruised to a 59-26 victory over Kenai in their first game of the Soldotna Tip-Off Tournament on Thursday.
Ten players scored for the Kings, and all 11 players on the road trip played extended minutes throughout as Kayhi overwhelmed a young Kardinals’ squad.
“All of our guys contributed. There’s a good feeling in the locker room right now,” Kayhi coach Eric Stockhausen said. “Every kid we have on our roster can play. I was real pleased with the guys that got extra minutes tonight. I felt like they were able to do a lot with the opportunity.”
Kayhi senior guard Nick Whicker scored five straight points early in the second quarter, converting a couple of steals into layups and foul shots. Sophomore Jason James showed a solid all-around game and added six first-half points. Sophomore sharpshooter Matt Standley drilled a pair of 3-point baskets and added a three-point play in the fourth quarter, joining Whicker and junior guard Alex Pihl as the team’s leading scorers with nine points each.
Sophomore forward Mo Bullock started strong and scored all six of his points in the game’s first nine minutes. James also finished with six points. Isaiah Navales, Omar Mendoza and Colton Paulsen each scored five.
After liberally going to his bench throughout the first half, Stockhausen sat his starters for good after the Kings had built a 46-8 lead midway through the third quarter.
“We had a couple people tell us how classy our guys handled the situation. They really kept the spirit of the game intact,” Stockhausen said.
The Kings focused on their full-court press early and Kenai struggled to gain halfcourt on many possessions.
“It was the first time we tried that type of defensive pressure,” Stockhausen said. “Some of (their difficulty) was probably that they weren’t used to the speed of the game, some of it was our pressure.”
The Kings advance to face a Colony squad that is ranked No. 2 in the state by Alaska Preps. The Knights, who finished third in the state last year, beat Nikiski 72-45 on Thursday.
“The kids are now focused on going against the No. 2 team in the state. It will be a huge challenge. They look good,” Stockhausen said. “They want to play uptempo and press and trap. It should be a great game.”
Bethel beat Mt. Edgecumbe 56-49 in another first-round game. Host Soldotna faced Juneau-Douglas late Thursday.
Juneau-Douglas didn’t depart for Soldotna until Thursday morning. Weather delays caused the Crimson Bears to not arrive in Soldotna until 7:30 Thursday night.
“They were in travel purgatory,” said Stockhausen, whose team left after school Wednesday. “We beat the weather up here, but we’ve still had a pretty long day. The kids are going to be good and tired tonight.”
• By RICHARD LARSON •
• Daily News Staff Writer
Things will look a little different when the Ketchikan boys basketball team takes the floor this year.
In past seasons the Kings have run precision plays, working the ball around until they find the right shot for the right player.
This year, Kayhi plans to do more on the fly, relying on each individual player to read the defense and react accordingly.
The high octane offense will have some obvious growing pains when players make the wrong choices, but it also will put more pressure on opponents to defend the Kings.
“It’s definitely more fun than passing the ball around for five minutes,” junior guard Alex Pihl said. “It’s a fun style to play, but it is also a lot harder. It comes with a lot of responsibility.”
“Every year is a new puzzle,” coach Eric Stockhausen said. “My job is to put the kids in a position to do the things they do well. This year we are built for speed.”
Kayhi brings relatively average size to the floor, but has long-armed, quick players with the ability to create shots and drive to the basket.
“Coach is putting us in the right position to be successful,” Pihl said. “It is just about reading the defense and deciding, ‘What should I do?’ We are a quicker, guard-based team and pushing the ball uses our skillset.”
Stockhausen expects to play a regular rotation of eight or nine players, with the potential to go even deeper. With Pihl, sophomore Mo Bullock and seniors Colton Paulsen, Malik Almenzor, Omar Mendoz and Isaiah Navales, the Kings have a number of players capable of being the leading scorer on any given night.
“They all have offensive potential,” Stockhausen said. “Now we need to read what we should be doing, instead of forcing what to do by running a specific play trying to get a specific shot for a specific kid.
“Set plays work when everyone is moving in concert to get a certain action. I want to be able to do that without running a play.”
The Kings have been drilling motions off screens; cutting, curling or slipping behind the defense; and working out of certain shapes and positions to create space and openings.
The team practices and practices the motions, running 3-on-0 drills, 3-on-3 drills with a dummy defense, and 3-on-3 with a real defense.
“We want to keep getting the repetition down,” Stockhausen said. “This season will come down to not what I know, but what the kids know. We need the game to be fluid.”
Part of the new attack’s success will hinge on the players knowing what to expect from each other. When are their teammates going to cut to the basket? Where are they going to be open for a shot? If you take the ball one way, where is your teammate going to go?
The players break each huddle with the word “Together” and they need to play that way to win.
“Most of us have been playing together since we were little boys,” Pihl said. “We normally know what the other is going to do. We still have a lot to work on. Coach lets us know our mistakes.”
“It is going to be a big challenge, what we are doing. We are going to run-and-gun, and there are a lot of options,” Paulsen said. “We go deep. Everybody can defend. Everybody can post up. We can all score.”
While Kayhi doesn’t have a ton of size, they are taller than in recent years, and plan to matchup against bigger teams by forcing them out of their comfort zones. Bullock stands 6-foot-4, while Pihl and Almenzor are each 6-2. Paulsen is 6-foot even.
“We are small, but not teeny. We just have to play team defense,” Pihl said. “We have to box out and each do our job. We don’t need one person to go in and grab 20 rebounds.”
“Our hustle will negate their height,” senior Colton Paulsen said. “We average about 6-foot, instead of being 5-4. This is the longest, most athletic team we’ve had.“
The Kings expect to pressure opponents with aggressive defense, offense and transition, continuing to attack, attack, attack at all phases of the game.
“We are going to apply pressure for 32 minutes on offense and defense,” Stockhausen said. “We’re going to look to make action happen.”
In the Southeast, the Kings will be facing a Thunder Mountain team that returns guard Matthew Seymour, one of the top players in the state. Jacob Calloway and Ben Jahn are also back for a Falcons team that aims to not only repeat as Southeast champions, but compete for a state title. Juneau-Douglas, on the other hand, lost 76 percent of its scoring and 73 percent of its rebounding from a team that finished that finished 8-16 overall last year. Kayhi went 2-4 against Juneau last year, including a 60-58 loss that eliminated the Kings from the Southeast tournament.
Thunder Mountain 7-1 18-6
Juneau-Douglas 3-5 8-16
Kayhi 2-6 10-14
TM 54, Kayhi 36 *
TM 64, Kayhi 49
JD 49, Kayhi 42
Kayhi 59, JD 54, 2OT
TM 69, Kayhi 63
TM 57, Kayhi 38
JD 56, Kayhi 46
JD 63, Kayhi 51
Kayhi 51, JD 47
TM 55, Kayhi 33
JD 60, Kayhi 58
TM 56, JD 52
* Kayhi won by forfeit due to ineligible player
Ketchikan Daily News
When the Kayhi girls and boys basketball teams make their public debut at Saturday’s Meet the Kings, the action on the court promises to be fast, frenzied and largely unpredictable.
“We won’t have our offense in yet. We’re just working on our defense and press so far,” Kayhi girls coach Kelly Smith said. “If they get into a half-court offense, it will just be freelancing. But we hope to not see a lot of half court. We want to make each other get up and down the court.”
Tryouts for the teams began on Monday and the coaches have been making cuts and deciding on varsity and junior varsity rosters throughout the week.
“We will only have had our varsity group together for two days to learn offense, defense and transition,“ Kayhi boys coach Eric Stockhausen said. “It will probably look like you would expect it to on Day 3.”
The unveiling of the Kayhi teams starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at Kayhi. The junior varsity girls take the court at 6 p.m., followed by the JV boys at 6:30. The varsity girls make their appearance at 7 p.m. and the varsity boys close out the night at 7:45. There will be dance group performances at various points through the night.
The event is a fundraiser for the Kayhi boys team, but fans can see the teams for free.
“It does not cost to go into the gym,” Stockhausen said. “The fundraiser is the dinner in the commons. Everything else is open and free.”
While the players will still be learning on the fly, fans should still get a good indication of the style of play the Kings and Lady Kings will offer this season.
Both the boys and girls teams will play two 20-minute scrimmages with a five-minute break. In the first scrimmage, the coaches plan on trying to put two evenly matched teams on the floor. The second scrimmage will feature the players expected to be in the main varsity rotation against those expected to be fighting for playing time.
“We should learn a lot,” Stockhausen said. “It is good for them to get out there and get some of the jitters out, and for the coaches to get some sort of assessment of where they are at.”
Smith added, “We want to use it as a bit of practice. But we also want to show what we can do and get people excited to watch us.”
The Lady Kings plan to continue the full-court pressing attack they’ve employed in recent years, while the Kings are expecting to also push the ball up court to take advantage of a deep, athletic club.
“We are doing things quite a bit different this year. We have to adjust to the players that we have,” Stockhausen said. “The most notable change will be our transition. Every year is a new adventure, and we will see how the kids adjust to their new roles.”
The regular season begins on Dec. 13 when the Lady Kings travel to West Anchorage and the Kings host Petersburg.
- By A.J. JANKOWSKI
- Daily News Sports Editor -
Head coach Eric Stockhausen said he wanted his Ketchikan High School boys basketball team to work hard off the ball — setting hard screens, making strong cuts, finding good spaces — to jump-start the Kings offense.
Malik Almenzor heard his coach loud and clear. And while the junior nearly lost his tooth in the process, he helped pave the way to Kayhi’s first winning streak of 2013, as the Kings defeated Wasilla Friday night 58-45 at the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.
Almenzor’s mouth caught the side of the head of Wasilla’s Isaiah Dawkins while Almenzor was setting a screen for teammate Alex Pihl with 1:58 left in the third quarter.
Pihl scored the layup — giving Kayhi a 37-28 lead — but the next five minutes became a scavenger hunt, as officials and players alike began to look for Almenzor’s tooth as he rushed to the corner of the arena holding his mouth.
“I was there wanting to help Malik while looking for the tooth while talking to our kids,” Stockhausen said. “Luckily there were a lot of people helping.”
Almenzor did not lose any teeth, but had one knocked back — a battle scar from what was a physical battle on both ends of the floor.
“I kind of was looking the other way, but I turned around and saw him fly down and thought, ‘Whoa,’” said teammate Kable Lervick, who scored a game-high 17 points in the win. “(The Warriors) were not backing down. They were coming right back at us.”
Kayhi (7-10, 2-2) attacked and defended with controlled intensity, getting to the foul line 25 times and outrebounding Wasilla while holding the Warriors to just 13 free-throw attempts.
“I thought our kids were ready to go,” Stockhausen said. “I think they see we have to make our push now. Our kids, in every aspect, were about as aggressive as we could be.”
Wasilla led 10-8 after one quarter, and 19-17 late in the second, before Lervick closed the first half on a 7-0 run by himself.
The senior guard hit two free throws to tie the game, before Pihl found him on a backdoor cut for the go-ahead basket with less than 10 seconds to go.
“We’re starting to come together and read each other more,” Lervick said. “It’s good to get a lead at any point in a game, but that was a really good point for us.”
The Warriors immediately traveled, giving Kayhi an inbounds pass on the baseline with 3.8 seconds remaining.
Lervick tossed the ball to Pihl, who immediately gave the ball back to Lervick in the left corner.
The 6-1 senior drove into four Wasilla defenders, flicking the ball toward the hoop while absorbing the contact. The shot fell, and Lervick converted the free throw with 0.3 left on the clock to give the Kings a 24-19 lead heading into the locker room.
“Kable is such a crafty player,” Stockhausen said. “(That execution) was really what we’ve been working on, and that shows that our guys are starting to get it.”
Kayhi outscored Wasilla 15-9 in the third quarter — thanks to a 3 from Brien Auger and a pair of field goals from Colton Paulsen — to enter the fourth with a 39-28 advantage.
The Kings made 7-of-8 free throws in the final frame to ice the game, as they got double-digit scoring from Lervick and Auger (12 points), as well as points from 10 different players.
“There wasn’t much flow to the start of the game, so it was hard for us to get out and run,” said Stockhausen, whose team turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter, but only six times in the entire second half. “We were able to gather ourselves, and get a little pressure. Wasilla did a great job plugging up our initial stuff ... but we were able to get some baskets off of our defensive pressure.”
Wasilla, playing without its top player in Dane Kuiper, got 13 points from Stone Krueger and 12 from Cash McGregor.
“You take away any team’s best player, but especially the caliber of Dane Kuiper, and it’s going to be tough,” Stockhausen said. “For (the Warriors) to battle the way they did, they’re going to be something to watch these next couple years.”
Kayhi got Wasilla’s guards, Krueger and Cameron Brown, in foul trouble, and Dawkins also played much of the second half with four fouls. He was not whistled for a foul when he collided with Almenzor; however, Dawkins spent the tooth-searching timeout with a bag of ice on the side of his head.
Despite the hectic search, Stockhausen used the short break to rally his team together and plan for the final 10 minutes.
“Malik’s a very tough young man, and I hope (Dawkins) is OK, too,” Stockhausen said. “I just grabbed the guys and said, ‘OK, here’s the situation. We need to get a stop on this next possession, and come back down and respond.’”
The Kings got the stop. On their next possession, Isaiah Navales drove to the rim and drew a foul. The junior got off the floor grabbing his left wrist, but shook it off, toed the line, and sank both free throws to give Kayhi a 13-point lead.
“The way our kids focused on the task at hand was very good,” Stockhausen said. “There were a lot of bodies flying around the floor. It was two teams playing very hard, and that’s only going to get better.”
After the game, his upper lip wrapped around his swollen, bloody and not completely in place top row of teeth, Almenzor smiled and said all he needs is a mouth guard and he’ll be ready for Saturday’s 5 p.m. tipoff.
“It’s really good we got the win,” he said. “We want to keep it rolling, and — sorry, it’s hard to talk through this.”
- By A.J. JANKOWSKI
- Daily News Sports Editor -
When the Ketchikan High School boys basketball team steps onto its home court Friday night against Wasilla, Kayhi will be in a three-way tie for first place atop 4A Southeast.
Not bad for a team that had lost seven of its past eight prior to last Saturday’s double-overtime win against Juneau-Douglas.
But with the losing streak behind them, the Kings are ready to put their noses to the grindstone and work toward making the second half of the season far more memorable than the first.
With a win over J-D and a solid week of practice under their belts, things are starting to look up.
“I think the guys realize we're in the hunt,” said head coach Eric Stockhausen. “From the beginning I've told them I think they are a good team. It's just taken us a while to play the game so that becomes reality. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy, but these kids work hard and they have desire.”
Kayhi (6-10, 2-2) entered last week’s series with the Crimson Bears after dropping all three games at the Alaska Prep Shootout in Anchorage by at least 15 points.
But the Kings weren’t hampered by a lack of results, and took defending Southeast-champion J-D to the wire both games. Kayhi let Friday’s game slip from the free-throw line, but didn’t let history repeat itself Saturday, when the Kings outscored the Bears by five in the final overtime of a 59-54 win.
“This win is big, and it's a turning point in our season,” said junior Isaiah Navales following the game. “We've been playing good, and we keep taking steps toward that regional title.”
Kayhi had five players score at least eight points in the victory, something that gives the team an advantage moving forward.
“If you try to take one thing away from us, we can score other ways,” Stockhausen said. “We've got a few guys who could have really big games for us, and have the skill set to do it. When they get keyed on, other guys can step up.”
The win also gave headway to a spirited week of practice.
Kayhi spent the final 20 minutes of practice Wednesday running its offense with one stipulation — no dribbles.
It took some time for the Kings to regain their rhythm, but by the end of practice, passes were zipping across the floor and leading to easy layups against their teammates on defense.
Stockhausen said it was the commitment to executing off-ball maneuvers that helped lead to easier buckets.
“The things that help us get good shots are not things that come easy to us — as far as getting contact on screens, and always cutting hard, and always spacing well,” he said. “It's getting five guys moving congruently with purpose. Everybody can just move, but nothing will be open. Whether it's screening the screener or the spacing — it's just thinking ahead. That's a little bit higher difficulty.”
Wasilla comes to Kayhi this week boasting one of the top players in the state in sophomore Dane Kuiper. Kuiper, a 6-5 versatile wing who can score from anywhere on the floor, is questionable, however, with a back injury.
Kuiper has missed the past two games, including last week’s 44-31 loss to Soldotna.
Whether Kuiper plays or not, Stockhausen knows his team will face a young, athletic group, which holds a size advantage over his Kings.
“We're going to have to get a couple of steals to get some easy baskets,” Stockhausen said. “We're not going to get a lot of easy baskets off offensive rebounds. We've got to push it. We've got to get deflections and get in passing lanes. We're going to have to force certain issues, simply because of the makeup of our team.”
It’s a team that heads into this weekend’s games with confidence. And it’s a team that — despite a rocky road this past month — will have a vested interest in this weekend’s Juneau-Douglas vs. Thunder Mountain series as all three teams vie for the No. 1 seed in Southeast.
“We've had to weather some storms, but now I think we're turning the corner,” Stockhausen said. “I thought the intensity was good, and I'm thankful for the week we've had. We know Wasilla is really good, and we'll have one ear on what's going on up in Juneau.”
- By A.J. JANKOWSKI -
Daily News Sports Editor -
With a record of 5-9, the Ketchikan High School boys basketball team gets a chance to right the ship this weekend when it hosts conference-rival Juneau-Douglas at the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium Friday and Saturday.
Staring down the possibility of losing their fifth straight game, the Kings know getting back on track starts with fixing the team in maroon and white before turning their attention to the squad in red and black.
“We need to start focusing,” said sophomore Alex Pihl. “A lot of people look up to us. I know when I was growing up, we were the role models. They don't want to see a 5-9 team. It's all there. We've just been beating ourselves.”
Turnovers plagued Kayhi at last week’s Alaska Prep Shootout in Anchorage. The Kings went 0-3 against Chugiak, Dimond and Grace Christian, and all three losses came by 15 points or more.
“We've just got to stop turning the ball over, and that starts with being on the same page,” Pihl said. “It starts with communication. Even if we're at practice going five against zero, we have to act like it's a Region V championship game against Juneau. That has to be the mentality.”
Head coach Eric Stockhausen said he believed Kayhi made progress as last week’s tournament wore on, but the Kings failed to build on it during this week’s practice.
“I thought we were on an uptick,” he said, “and then our practices were a little flat this week.”
Kayhi struggled to get through Thursday’s practice, committing several self-induced turnovers, and failing to execute the game plan implemented to attack the bigger, senior-laden Crimson Bears.
“We didn't come together and step up to the plate,” said Pihl of the practice. “At the start of practice, we weren't focused, and we didn't meet Coach's intensity.”
And with perennial Southeast power J-D coming to town, the focus will have to be there.
“They can hurt you a lot of different ways,” said Stockhausen of the Crimson Bears.
He continued to say their scoring leader, Keith Ainsworth, is “arguably the most athletic kid in Southeast. I've appreciated him as a player from when I first saw him a few years ago. He's a very good player capable of putting at least 25 points up. We're going to have to play good team defense to try and keep him limited.”
Playing their first meaningful home game in January, a strong performance against a rival team can be the spark the Kings need.
“When you were a little kid growing up in Ketchikan, I mean, it's Juneau, at night on your home floor. There's something special about that,” Pihl said. “The intensity is already going to be there.”
Stockhausen hopes Kayhi brings the intensity, too.
“This group is not easy to read,” the coach said. “Right when you think one thing, they lead you to believe it's something different. Sometimes that will be good, and sometimes it won't be.”
Recently, the results haven’t been there, but with the region tournament still more than a month away, there’s plenty of time to get back on track.
“No one wants to be 5-9,” Pihl said. “No one wants to get beat by 20. It's not fun. It's a lot more fun when you're winning.”
NOTE: Friday’s and Saturday’s games tip off at 7:15 p.m., with JV playing at 5:30 p.m., and the C team game at 4 p.m.
- By A.J. JANKOWSKI
- Daily News Sports Editor -
Head coach Eric Stockhausen said that he’d learn a lot about what direction his Ketchikan High School boys basketball team is headed following this past week’s Alaska Prep Shootout in Anchorage.
Kayhi might have lost all three games, but the coach said what he saw convinced him the Kings are still trending up.
“Thursday was frustrating ... but the outlook got brighter on Friday, and even brighter Saturday,” said Stockhausen, whose team fell 72-57 on Saturday to Grace Christian. “Overall, I’d say we played 28-29 minutes of good basketball (Saturday), which is quite a leap for us.”
After poor shot selection led to a 35-percent clip in Thursday’s 62-47 loss to Chugiak, Kayhi got more selective, and shot 45.7 percent Friday in a loss to Dimond and a season-best 48.8 percent Saturday.
“They are starting to get the message,” Stockhausen said. “It was huge growth for our kids.”
The only problem Saturday was that, while Kayhi shot nearly 50 percent, Grace was above 50 percent — a feat the Grizzlies accomplished despite taking half their shots from behind the 3-point line.
Leading the way for Grace was point guard Eric Johnson, who Stockhausen described as the team’s “third or fourth scoring option.”
The Kings were ready to stop a potential scoring barrage from Hans Karlberg — who finished with 17 — but were left trying to stop a dominating offensive performance from Johnson.
The junior was 11-of-14 from the field — including 7-of-8 on 3s — and was 6-of-6 from the foul line en route to a game-high 35 points.
“He was very opportunistic,” Stockhausen said. “They weren’t running any plays for him or anything.”
Stockhausen said the Kings made sure to have a body on Johnson, who scored in spurts, including eight in the second quarter to turn a 19-13 Kayhi lead into a 36-28 halftime advantage for Grace.
“You see the higher shooting percentages when there’s no pressure,” Stockhausen said. “I don’t think that was the case with our kids. It was just a good job by him hitting some contested shots.”
Despite the loss, the Kings had a breakout game of their own from senior Kable Lervick. The 6-0 guard scored 26 points on 7-of-12 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.
The 26 points are a career-high for Lervick, and the highest single-game point total of the year for Kayhi — three more than Brien Auger’s 23 against Palmer at the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic.
“It didn’t really seem like I had that many,” Lervick said. “It was just one of those days that the ball was going in. I really wanted to get out there and get it going. Everything was clicking.”
For Stockhausen, it was the all-around performance from Lervick he knew the senior is capable of.
“It wasn’t just the offense,” the coach said. “(Lervick’s) whole floor game was where we need him to play. It was what we’ve been working to get towards with him these past two years. It’s good to see him respond to the challenge.”
Lervick, who came off the bench in each of the first two games of the Shootout, said he wanted to prove he could get the job done Saturday.
“It did help get me more focused on the game,” said Lervick of not starting Thursday and Friday. “It got me a little angry, and it got me to go in there and really want to do my best.”
Stockhausen said he didn’t bench Lervick per se, but was just trying to find the right combination for a team that’s struggled to get in a rhythm this season.
“It’s not about who starts, but who finishes,” Stockhausen said. “Who starts with this group is not important.”
On Saturday, the starting lineup of Lervick, Auger, Riley Gass, Isaiah Navales and Malik Almenzor helped give Kayhi a six-point lead, 19-13, heading into the second quarter.
However, the momentum swung Grace’s way in the following period, and the Grizzlies took the lead when Almenzor was whistled for a foul and a subsequent technical less than a minute into the quarter.
Grace converted on three of the four foul shots, and on the ensuing drive, Johnson hit one of his seven 3-pointers to put the Grizzlies up 23-19.
“It changed things, but we had time to fix it,” said Stockhausen of Almenzor’s technical, which the coach described as “more of a bad catch than a slam (of the ball).
“He plays very intensely. That’s how he plays, and that’s how he got to be an All-Tournament selection. He does everything at full speed.”
Almenzor finished with five points, as Kayhi also got scoring from Navales (6 points), Alex Pihl (6), Erwin Malabanan (5), Auger (3), Mo Bullock (2), Gass (2), and Omar Mendoza (2).
After trailing by as many as 19 in the third quarter, the Kings cut the lead to three, 55-52, on a field goal by Pihl with 6:56 left in the fourth. But Grace scored the next 13 points, and held on from there.
“The hard part for us right now is recognizing and controlling momentum,” Stockhausen said. “On Saturday, the momentum swung, and it swung big. We’re in the process of learning how to control it, and that’s why this was such a great learning situation for us.”
Kayhi fell to 5-9 on the year and has lost four straight, however, given how the Kings approached Friday’s and Saturday’s games — compared to losses earlier in the year — the team believes there’s reason for optimism.
“We felt like we were straying away from each other (after Thursday’s loss to Chugiak),” Lervick said. “So we came together, and talked about what we’ve got to do this second half of the season to get it going.
“People hear we went 0-3 and think, ‘Oh my, you guys didn’t do anything.’ But I thought it was really good for us, and we took tremendous steps from where we were before this trip.”
- By A.J. JANKOWSKI
- Daily News Sports Editor -
As with most basketball tournaments, Sitka’s Holland America Tournament held a series of skills competitions before Saturday’s final round of games. Not known for his range, the Ketchikan High School boys basketball team nominated forward Brien Auger for the 3-point contest.
The result wasn’t pretty, as the senior hit on just four of his 25 shots.
Luckily for the Kings, Auger’s accuracy improved as the day went on, as he knocked down two first-half 3’s and scored a game-high 16 points to lead Kayhi to a 68-58 victory over Washington state’s Bonney Lake.
“It’s always been a long-standing joke that he thinks he’s our best 3-point shooter,” quipped Kayhi coach Eric Stockhausen. “But he knocked those two down with confidence. He took a third one later in the game that looked just as good, and I?was surprised it didn’t go in.”
Auger’s 16 points Saturday marked the third time in as many games Kayhi had a different player lead in scoring.
Isaiah Navales had a team-high 14 in Friday’s loss to Nome, and Erwin Malabanan led the Kings with 13 in Thursday’s win over Sitka, as Kayhi (3-3) went 2-1 on its trip to Sitka.
“I have no problem with our offense as long as we take good shots,” Stockhausen said. “All you can ask for is that we take the best shot available, whether it goes in or not.”
Auger made his second 3 early in the second quarter to push the Kings’ advantage to 23-13. The Panthers clawed back into the game later in the quarter, as EJ Harris, Kodi Buckley and JC Herd each hit a 3 to put Bonney Lake up 32-29. The two teams traded buckets before Kayhi’s Melvin Guthrie scored his first two points of the season — a pair of free throws — and the Kings trailed 34-33 heading into halftime.
Buckley, who led the Panthers with 16 points, made another 3 to put Bonney Lake up four early in the third, but Malabanan made four consecutive free throws to pull the Kings even. Malabanan scored 15 points in the game, and went 11-of-12 from the free-throw line — nine of which came in the second half.
“He’s probably pound-for-pound our best player — even though the numbers won’t typically show it,” Stockhausen said. “He’s solid all the way around.”
Kayhi went 6-of-8 from the line down the stretch, turning a six-point lead into a 10-point win.
“Our guys are unselfish,” Stockhausen said. “Every team we play is going to be much bigger than us ... but our kids play hard. And I’m expecting us to keep getting better and better.”
Eight players registered at least two points for the Kings Saturday, as at least seven players have scored in each of Kayhi’s first six games.
The Kings, Sitka and Nome each went 2-1 at the tournament, however, the Wolves won the trophy because they allowed the least amount of combined points.
Kayhi might not have the hardware, but it returns home with momentum heading into this week’s Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic.
“It was a very positive trip for us,” Stockhausen said. “There’s still a learning curve as far as where we’re supposed to be in our multiple defensive packages ... but I thought we came together quite a bit.”