- By RICHARD LARSON
- Daily News Sports Editor
- For the fourth consecutive season the Sitka girls basketball team is heading back to the state tournament, and this time the Wolves have their eyes on a state title.
The Wolves, who placed third in the state each of the past three seasons, won the Southeast 3A region tournament crown Friday in Ketchikan with a solid 48-37 win over defending region champion Craig.
Sitka's only losses this season have come against undefeated 4A Dimond and defending 3A champion Barrow.
"We lost at Barrow in their tournament," said Sitka coach Rich Krupa. "I think we're ready to face them again. We're really looking forward to possibly a rematch."
Sitka got a balanced scoring attack, avoided costly turnovers against the quick Craig defenders, and limited the Panthers to few second-chance attempts, while methodically pulling away to the 11-point win in Friday's region championship at the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium in Ketchikan.
The Panthers held Sitka center Sariah Addy to nine points, but were unable to score enough to keep up with the rest of the Wolves' lineup.
"Craig did a great job. They really packed it in and played hard," Krupa said. "You have to give them a lot of credit. They've got a lot of good players, but we were able to limit them to one shot most of the times down the floor."
At the end of a back-and-forth first half, Sitka managed to build a 21-15 lead at the half. Freshman Sidney Riggs’ steal and short jump shot as the clock ran out on the half gave the Wolves the six-point edge.
The lead fluctuated between three and six points throughout most of the third quarter before another big quarter-ending shot gave Sitka some breathing room. With three seconds left, the Wolves inbounded the ball under their own basket and got the ball down the floor quickly to senior Kelsi Kubik, who drained a 3-pointer as the quarter ended to put Sitka on top 36-27.
"We had some big plays," Krupa said. "Kelsi hit the big 3. That was crucial for us. I didn't think we had time to get the ball down there that quickly."
Craig's Melissa Castle assisted on three layups early in the fourth quarter as the Panthers attempted to stay close, but they were unable to forge a serious run at Sitka's lead.
Sophomore Megan Reid led Sitka with 12 points. Ady and Riggs each added nine points. Senior Karly Fuller scored seven.
Craig was led by Maggie Dinon's 12 points. Marie Yates added seven, and Katie Dinon scored six.
The Panthers will play in the second-place game at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against the winner of Saturday morning's Mt. Edgecumbe-Metlakatla contest. The winner of that second-place game also earns a berth in the state 3A tournament.
Metlakatla 44, Wrangell 27
KETCHIKAN (KDN) — In a rematch of an opening-round game, the Metlakatla MissChiefs and the Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves will meet again Saturday at 8 a.m. — but this time, one team will be going home while the other advances to the second-place game with a shot at the state tournament.
Metlakatla rolled past Wrangell 44-27 in Friday's early game and Mt. Edgecumbe squeaked out a 34-33 win over Haines a couple of hours later to stay alive in the Southeast Class 3A region tournament in Ketchikan.
Metlakatla entered tournament play as the No. 6 seed, but opened the region with a thrilling 49-45 win over Mt. Edgcumbe. The MissChiefs were knocked into the losers bracket via a 59-35 loss to second-seeded Craig on Thursday, but rebounded with a big win over Wrangell on Friday.
The MissChiefs led 21-14 at the half, then broke the game open by outscoring Wrangell 13-1 in the third quarter. Jennifer Casperson led the way for Metlakatla with a 16-point effort. Shante Hudson added 15 points. Alecia Henderson scored six. Metlakatla was 12 of 23 from the free-throw line.
Loni Buness paced the Wrangell attack with nine points. The Wolves made 9 of 23 foul shots.
Mt. Edgecumbe 34, Haines 33
Meanwhile the Lady Braves were involved in their third straight close tournament finish. After falling to the MissChiefs in their opener, Mt. Edgecumbe rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Petersburg 43-37 on Thursday. Against Haines on Friday, the Lady Braves battled to a one-point win.
After Scarlett Beaver hit one of two free throws with 19 seconds left to give Edgecumbe a 34-32 lead, Haines had a couple of good opportunities to tie the game in the waning seconds. Riley Erekson's short shot rolled around the rim and out, and was rebounded by Marnie Rasmussen, whose own shot came up short. Alesha Young grabbed another offense rebound and was fouled, but hit only one of two free throws with 4.1 seconds left to make the score 44-43.
Beaver successfully inbounded the ball to Breanna Johanson, who was able to run out the final seconds before getting fouled.
Danielle Fields paced Mt. Edgecumbe with 10 points. Beaver added nine.
Hannah Wing led Haines with 10 points. Erekson added eight, and Young scored seven.