By CRAIG GIAMMONA
Sentinel Staff Writer
JUNEAU – The Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves were eliminated from the 3A Southeast tournament today, dropping a losers bracket game 38-37 to Wrangell.
It was the end of a long season for MEHS coach Carl Blackhurst and a few minutes after the game ended, the frustrated Edgecumbe skipper said his team did not execute in the second half of a game that they led by as many as 8 points.
“We got outhustled, we got outrebounded,” Blackhurst said outside the girls locker room at Juneau-Douglas High School. “We let them stay around, that’s what happens.”
The loss today came after MEHS fell to Sitka 40-30 on Wednesday in the opening round of Region V play. The game with Sitka was back-and-forth most of the way, with the Lady Wolves mounting a 14-0 late in the second half that iced the game.
Mt. Edgecumbe has been a fixture at the 3A girls state tournament for more than a decade, but after winning a state title in 2010, the Lady Braves were lacking experience this season, and it showed down the stretch in their two tournament losses. Edgecumbe had a 22-16 lead at the half, as senior Kristin Johanson put the team on her back, scoring 10 points in the first two quarters. Johanson, of Hoonah, ended up with a game-high 15 in her final game for MEHS. Brandi Hale, a junior from Hooper Bay, had 10 points.
The biggest lead of the game for the Lady Braves came at the end of the third quarter, with MEHS up 31-23. A Wrangell bucket to end the quarter left the Lady Braves with a 6-point lead heading into the fourth. A three-point play by Johanson put Edgecumbe up 34-27 in the fourth, but that would be the last Edgecumbe score until the final seconds of the game. Wrangell got hot, mounting a 9-0 run to take over the game.
MiKayla Stokes hit a three to make it 34-30 and Jaci Wright followed up with a bank three from beyond NBA range that put Wrangell within a point. Asked about that shot, which sent Wrangell’s loud contingent of fans into a frenzy, Blackhurst just shook his head.
Katelyn Reeves gave Wrangell the lead with a bucket in the lane, and Wrangell was up 37-34 when Edgecumbe missed a potential game-tying shot with about 30 seconds to go. After a free throw by Stokes, it was a two-possession game. Edgecumbe got the ball back with 5.6 seconds to go and Brandi Hale drained a three from the corner with about two seconds on the clock, but it was too little, too late. The clock expired with Wrangell up 38-37. It was the first Southeast win for Wrangell in at least two seasons and the Lady Wolves and their fans celebrated heartily after the game. Wrangell pushed Petersbrug Wednesday, and it was clear that they came to Juneau looking to end their winless streak.
Mt. Edgecumbe started strong in a game that tipped off at 8:30 a.m., but a fourth-quarter scoring drought ended their season. Late-game woes plagued the Lady Braves all season and today’s game was no different. Wrangell outscored Mt. Edgecumbe 13-6 in the fourth quarter to take the game. Wrangell did not have a scorer in double digits, but Stokes led the team with 7 points, including four in the fourth quarter. Jaci Wright, Alyssa Allen and Loni Bunness each scored 6 for Wrangell and Kayla Rooney had 5. Brenna Johanson, a junior from Hoonah, chipped in 7 for Mt. Edgecumbe.
Wrangell survived to play another day, with a game Friday against the loser of tonight’s tilt between Craig and Haines.