• By RICHARD LARSON
• Daily News Sports Editor
• The offense was shaky at times, but the defense was stifling as the Kayhi boys basketball team pulled away to a 45-30 victory over Cordova in their opening game of the Joe Floyd Invitational in Kodiak on Thursday.
The Kings outscored the Wolverines 9-2 in the first quarter, then, after Cordova had rallied to cut the lead to four points, put the game away by outscoring Cordova 14-3 in the fourth quarter.
“Our kids were fantastic defensively. Absolutely fantastic,” Kayhi coach Eric Stockhausen said. “It looked just like the drills we ran a couple days ago in practice. It was awesome. It’s not usually that obvious watching the drills you work on become a part of what you do, but it was a lot of fun from a coaching standpoint.”
Kayhi led by as many as 10 points in the first half and was up 21-12 at the break, but Cordova senior guard Keith Nolan scored 13 points in the third quarter as the Wolverines pulled to within four points on three occasions. Nolan drained three 3-pointers in the quarter.
“His second and third 3’s, we were late getting there,” Stockhausen said. “We played perfect defensively for most of the game, but once again when we would do something wrong they had good enough people to make you pay for it.”
Kyle Day and Mark Dulay each scored 14 points to lead the Kings. Donovan Bean had his best game of the season, adding seven points.
“We know he’s capable. He’s just had to get comfortable with a different system than he is used to learning. He’s had to learn our system and terminology from scratch,” said Stockhausen of Bean, who transferred from Wrangell.
The Kings, who struggled bringing the ball up the court in early losses to Juneau-Douglas and Dimond, had little trouble when Cordova went to full-court pressure in the fourth quarter.
“We’re getting better,” Stockhausen said. “That is where most of our offense came from late. The kids kept their composure. It’s exactly what we need to be doing. It is fun when you can watch guys start to figure it out a little bit. We didn’t play very sharp offensively until the fourth quarter, but we did a lot of good things.”
Stockhausen was even pleased with some of the things the Kings did wrong in the game.
“We got called for six illegal screens, which is great. I don’t know if we had tried to set six screens all year,” Stockhausen said.
Dulay scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and was 6 of 7 from the free-throw line. Kayhi made 8 of 9 free throws in the game. Cordova was 1 of 6 from the foul line.
The 3A Wolverines were one of the top teams in the state last year, but lost twice to Anchorage Christian Schools in the region tournament. ACS went on to win the state title. Cordova lost most of its scoring from that team, but has a handful of strong players back this year in Nolan, point guard William Romehildt and post Edward Labere.
“They had a great team last year,” Stockhausen said. “They lost a couple of all-state players, and maybe the best 3A point guard in the state. They were really good, but had some bad luck missing some of their studs at regions. But they have three decent guys with some younger guys around them. Nolan is a good player and their point guard (Romehildt) is good as well. They are probably all-conference players.”
Cordova fell to 1-2 on the season, having split two games with Valdez Dec. 16-17.
Kayhi, which improved to 3-5, left Ketchikan after school on Wednesday and had a short night in Anchorage before flying to Kodiak.
“We didn’t want to miss more school than we had to. We got into Anchorage late, got to bed around 11 and were up at 4. So they didn’t get much sleep last night,” Stockhausen said. “We got into Kodiak at 7:30 and went right to sleep. Then we had lunch and a shoot-around. It was a little more rushed than we wanted and it may have had a little effect on our offense, but overall I thought our kids responded well. Rebounding and defense-wise they did some things that we can really build on.”
Friday at 3:45 the Kings meet Thunder Mountain in their second game of the round-robin tournament. The Falcons are 1-4 on the season. Thunder Mountain lost a pair of close games to Juneau-Douglas, beat Nome, then lost to Barrow and Valdez. The Falcons have been playing without junior star Keith Ainsworth, who has an injured back.
“They have some talent, some good athletes, but their best player is out,” Stockhausen said. “They’ve had some growing pains, but they’ll be tough.”