By TOM HESSE
Reprinted with permission from the Daily Sitka Sentinel
The table is set for a competitive Region Tournament after the final cross-town matchups between the Sitka and Mt. Edgecumbe boys basketball teams over the weekend featured one game that went to overtime and another that was decided by 2 points.
Sitka and Mt. Edgecumbe split the final two games of the Battle of the Bridge with each team winning its home senior night. The Braves had Sitka down 49-47 with 3.7 seconds to play Friday night before Tevin Bayne forced overtime and led Sitka to a 65-53 win with 10 points in the 4-minute overtime.
The Braves answered the loss Saturday night with their first win over Sitka of the season. Mt. Edgecumbe came back from being down 11 points in the second half to beat Sitka 44-42.
The teams had nothing to gain from the weekend, with the region seeding having already been determined, but neither team played that way. Mt. Edgecumbe coach Archie Young said the last month of the season has shown how close the Region Tournament is going to be.
“I still feel like we can get better the next two days but what I think we’ve learned is the region is a lot closer than people thought it would be,” Young said. “We played two tight games with Sitka and split this weekend.”
Saturday night the Wolves led 34-27 at the end of the third quarter. Mt. Edgecumbe outscored Sitka 17-8 in the final quarter thanks to 11 points from Donald Edenshaw. The senior scored 24 points on senior night and did most of his work in the fourth quarter off a set the Braves used previously against Petersburg. Mt. Edgecumbe put the ball in Edenshaw’s hands at the top of the key and allowed him to facilitate the offense or go to the basket on an isolation play when he had a favorable matchup in man-to-man defense.
The Wolves had the lead with just over a minute to play before the pace of the game shifted to the free-throw line. Jaloni Pepper scored on a putback layup to cut the lead to 40-38.
Two possessions later, Kendrick Payton was whistled for an intentional offensive foul when he hit Mt. Edgecumbe’s Skye Shipton with an elbow.
Shipton hit both freethrows to tie the game and then Mt. Edgecumbe got the ball back because of the intentional foul.
Sitka and Mt. Edgecumbe traded free throw attempts in the final seconds with Mt. Edgecumbe hitting on two of the last four freethrows to secure the 44-42 win.
Edenshaw scored a game-high 24 points in his last home game with the Braves. Jarred Olin-Duncan, Corby Kasayulie and Daniel Alexie also played their last home game as seniors.
Shipton was second in scoring with 10 points. Pepper scored 5 points and Paul Kewan scored 2.
Payton led the Wolves with 14 points while shouldering most of the low-post duties for Sitka as Brian Way sat out the majority of the game as a precaution for an injury. Way scored 2 points before leaving the contest. AJ Inman scored 9, Bayne scored 8, Oscar Barragan 5 points and Jaren Sumauang scored 4. Joey Inman sat out the weekend with an injury.
This season has been similar to last season for Mt. Edgecumbe, which lost its first three games to Sitka last year before winning on the last night of the regular season. Young said the difference has been time on the court and fewer mistakes.
“For one, I think a big thing for us is we had a lot of turnovers (Friday) night and tonight we still had some turnovers but not nearly as many and we did a better job of not giving them up in bunches,” Young said. “Last game we had patches of three or four turnovers in a row and tonight I think we had two in a row, we never really had three in a row so minimizing the runs was really big for us.”
In Friday night’s contest, the Wolves were pushed for four quarters but did enough to sneak into overtime where they came on to outscore the Braves 16-4 in the final four minutes.
Edgecumbe’s Pepper scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including a trio of 3-pointers from the corner. When the Wolves inbounded the ball to Bayne in the post for the game winner, Bayne dropped in a turnaround shot from the right-hand side with 1 second left. The shot was Bayne’s fifth field goal of the night and he continued the run into overtime where he scored the Wolves’ first 6 points. The sophomore led the team in scoring with 21 points on senior night.
Way scored 13 points followed by Barragan who had 10. AJ Inman and Payton both scored 9 points and Quentin White scored 2.
It was the last home game for seniors Way, Barragan, Payton, AJ Inman, Sumauang, Alec Duncan, Jovani Villanueva, Ryan Samuelson, Quentin White and Joey Inman, who sat to rest an injury.
Sitka gets a bye in the first game of the Region tournament and will play the winner of the Petersburg/Mt. Edgecumbe game on Wednesday morning. Mt. Edgecumbe, this year’s three seed, won last year’s 3A Southeast title after entering the tournament as the two-seed. Young said the 2A, 3A and 4A levels are all going to be close tournaments.
“I think across the board it’s going to be a very interesting Regional tournament. I’m looking forward to it,” Young said.
By TOM HESSE
Reprinted with permission from the Daily Sitka Sentinel
Tied at 31 with six seconds to go and the length of the floor to cover, what did Mt. Edgecumbe coach Dane Vincent draw up for the Lady Braves’ game-winning shot to beat Sitka?
“Something totally different from what they did,” Vincent said with a laugh.
The Lady Braves forced a jump ball with six seconds left in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game at Mt. Edgecumbe High School. After taking a timeout to draw up a play, Mt. Edgecumbe took three passes to advance the ball to JoAllyn Johnson, who hit a 3-pointer from deep on the right wing as time expired to give Mt. Edgecumbe their fourth win over Sitka this season.
“I wish I could take credit for it,” Vincent said. “It’s not necessarily one person all the time who has to make a play on our (team) but somebody always seems to stand up and take advantage of it.”
Renatta Olson led Mt. Edgecumbe in scoring with 11 points including the game-tying free throw with 1:10 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Olson’s free throw came on the heels of an Isa Ramil shot that gave Sitka a 31-30 lead with 1:37 seconds to play.
Mt. Edgecumbe led much of the night starting with a Brittany Akaran layup that finally put the first points on the board 4 minutes into the game. Akaran, the only Edgecumbe senior on senior night, went on to score 4 points.
“It’s really been fun working with Brittany. She’s going to be missed on the team – she’s really a big part of it,” Vincent said.
Mt. Edgecumbe led by 4 points at the end of the first quarter and by 2 at halftime. In the third quarter, the Lady Braves stretched their lead to 26-21 before Sitka started a comeback in the final period.
The Lady Wolves outscored Mt. Edgecumbe 10-8 in the fourth quarter thanks to 4 points from Megan Reid and a 3-pointer from Sid Riggs, who returned to action Friday night after missing time with a wrist injury.
Riggs scored 9 points Saturday night to lead Sitka. Reid finished with 8 points after being held to two field goals through the first three quarters. Kalene Koelling hit a pair of three pointers for her 6 points, Ramil scored 4, Sophie Mudry 3 and Zoe Krupa scored 1.
Johnson and Payton Weisz finished with 5 points each for the Lady Braves behind Olson’s game-high 11 points. Taryn White and Akaran each scored 4, Julie Amaktoolik 3 and Tori Thomas scored 2.
The Lady Braves swept Sitka in both games this weekend to wrap up the regular season. Friday night’s contest at Sitka High School was similarly low-scoring and closely contested with Mt. Edgecumbe winning 34-28.
Sitka trailed by 5 points to start the third quarter. Riggs scored 6 of her 7 points in the fourth quarter starting with a 3-pointer on an assist by Sophie Mudry that closed the gap to 25-23.
Mt. Edgecumbe pushed the lead back up to 7 points behind points from Thomas, White and Olson. Riggs and Reid then narrowed the gap to 4 points and, with 39 seconds left, Riggs stole the ball and went coast-to-coast for a layup that cut Mt. Edgecumbe’s lead to 30-28.
Sitka played the foul-game the rest of the quarter and was unable to complete the comeback as Mt. Edgecumbe pulled ahead 34-28 on foul shooting.
It was senior night for Reid, Mudry, Ramil, Hannah Davis and Farrah Davis.
Reid, Ramil and Hailey Denkinger scored 4 points each. Koelling, Krupa and Mudry scored 3 each and Kyla Young scored 2.
White led Mt. Edgecumbe with 16 points followed by Akaran and Thomas who each had 4. Johnson scored 3 points and Olson hit a 2-point bucket in the fourth quarter.
With the wins, the Lady Braves finished the season 15-3 with a 7-1 conference record. Their only loss in Region V came via Petersburg in February. As a result, Mt. Edgecumbe will get a bye in the first round of the Region tournament, which starts Wednesday.
The Lady Wolves will play Petersburg’s Lady Vikings at 8 a.m. Wednesday to open the tournament. Mt. Edgecumbe will play the winner of that game Thursday in the double-elimination tournament.
Vincent said he’s pleased with how his team has been playing defensively but he’s hoping to get back to the offensive success they had earlier in the season.
“I want us to get back into our offense that we ran earlier in the season. We need to slow it down,” Vincent said.
By TOM HESSE
Republished with permission of the Daily Sitka Sentinel
The Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves opted for defense over offense in their 23-21 win over Petersburg Friday night at Mt. Edgecumbe High School.
Head coach Dane Vincent said the team made some adjustments following their 50-49 overtime loss to the Lady Vikings last Wednesday. The result, Vincent said, was two solid defensive teams grinding out a low-scoring contest.
“Did our offense work like it normally does? No. Their defense was strong. Did their offense work as well as it normally does? No We’re strong,” Vincent said.
Vincent said his team opted to show multiple defensive looks and to better defend Petersburg’s leading scorer Kylie Wallace. Wallace scored 16 points against Mt. Edgecumbe on Wednesday and 37 against Sitka a day later.
“We made a little adjustment on our defense from what we ran the last game and tried to get out on their shooters a little bit more,” Vincent said. “We planned something more specific for (Wallace) tonight. I basically had Taryn (White) get on her one on one and stay on her right hand side.”
The Lady Braves defense gave up one basket at the 7-minute mark in the first quarter and then held Petersburg scoreless for more than a quarter.
Mt. Edgecumbe had an equally difficult time scoring but did put together a 6-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, thanks to some opportunities in the transition game. Tori Thomas gave the Lady Braves a 5-2 lead when she hit on a 3-point play with 2:15 to play in the first quarter. Payton Weisz stole the ball and passed ahead to Thomas for the assist.
The second quarter was nearly halfway finished when Petersburg scored their second basket of the game on a Kyla Willis shot. By the end of the first half, neither team had cracked double digits with the Lady Braves leading 9-5.
Petersburg climbed back into the contest in the third quarter, tying the game at 12 halfway through the quarter. Mt. Edgecumbe went on a run behind a Weisz 3-pointer but Petersburg closed it to 17-16 when Grace Weller stole the ball and hit a layup with 13 seconds left.
Petersburg never led in the contest but missed a few opportunities to do so in the second half. The Lady Vikings tied the game at 19 on a layup and foul with 5 minutes to play but missed the free throw. Petersburg had previously tied the game at 2 and 12 earlier in the game without being able to take the lead.
The score stalled at 19 for the next two minutes of game time before Olson hit a layup off of a JoAllyn Johnson steal and assist to make it 21-19 with 2:44 to play.
Petersburg’s Wallace tied the game sometime later with a layup, which was answered immediately by White to give Mt. Edgecumbe a 23-21 advantage with less than a minute to play.
White led the Lady Braves in scoring with 9 points. Weisz scored 6 points, all in the third quarter. Thomas finished with 5 points and Olson scored 3 points.
Similar to Wednesday night’s game, Petersburg had the ball with a chance to tie with 36 seconds remaining. Mt. Edgecumbe forced two jump balls in the next 30 seconds, eventually gaining possession with 3 seconds to go.
By splitting the homestand with Petersburg,the Lady Braves improved their record to 13-3 with a 5-1 record in the conference. They need to play Sitka twice more to finish out the conference regular season. Petersburg is 5-3 in the conference having swept Sitka and beaten Mt. Edgecumbe once. The team with the best conference record in the regular season will get a bye in the first round of the Region Tournament next week in Juneau. Should Mt. Edgecumbe lose to Sitka twice, they will tie Petersburg with a 5-3 conference mark but have the tiebreaker by virtue of having beaten Petersburg three times this season.
Vincent said he knew Petersburg was going to be a challenge this weekend and he expects that to be the case in the Region Tournament as well.
“I told the girls Tuesday, you guys don’t take them for granted just cause we beat them by 8 or 9, because they can come out and beat us by 10 or 20 and he (Dino Brock) does a great job coaching their team,” Vincent said.
By TOM HESSE
Reprinted with permission from the Daily Sitka Sentinel
The Mt. Edgecumbe High Lady Braves basketball team took the first installment of the Battle of the Bridge on their home floor Tuesday night with a 57-32 blowout win over Sitka High.
The Lady Braves led most of the way but it was in the third quarter when the team ran away with the game. The Lady Braves took a 6-point lead into halftime after Sitka rallied from a slow start.
The Lady Wolves didn’t record their first point until 5:30 into the first quarter when Ellie Cagle hit on a layup. In the second quarter the team, playing without Sid Riggs, found their offensive stride as four different players hit field goals in the second quarter en route to a 9-point showing.
Sitka outscored Mt. Edgecumbe 9 to 8 in the second quarter after starting out 7 points in the hole. The Lady Wolves had the deficit down to 4 points at times near the end of the second quarter but Mt. Edgecumbe was able to ride 6 points from Taryn White in the second quarter to a 20-14 halftime lead.
In the third quarter the Lady Wolves hit a shooting drought around the same time Edgecumbe got hot. The Lady Braves outscored Sitka 22-5 in the third quarter led by White with 10 points. The Lady Wolves couldn’t convert on some open looks early in the third quarter and Mt. Edgecumbe was able to capitalize in the transition game.
Megan Reid provided some spark for the Lady Wolves in the fourth quarter with 9 points. As the Lady Wolves were trying to mount a comeback, Renatta Olson hit a three-pointer to push the lead back over 20 points and Reid responded with a quick three of her own at the other end to keep the comeback hopes alive.
Mt. Edgecumbe’s defense held the rest of the quarter, however. The last theatrics of the game came with 2:23 left when Edgecumbe’s Ashley Mute left the floor on a gurney following a collision with another player going for a loose ball. Mute was conscious when taken away by emergency responders and Mt. Edgecumbe school officials said she was carted off as a precautionary measure.
Following the injury, the teams returned to the floor to close out the game. Seven players worked their way into the score book for the Lady Braves led by White’s 24 points. Payton Weisz was second in scoring with 13 points followed by Olson, who had 10. JoAllyn Johnson scored 4 and Julie Amaktoolik, Tori Thomas and Jessica Mute had 2 each.
It was the first game against Sitka for Mt. Edgecumbe coach Dane Vincent, and he said he liked the match-up.
“I like the match-up pretty good. They got the tall girl down low (Reid) who does a pretty good job. We got to stop them from driving down into the middle and penetrating with their guards,” Vincent said.
Mt. Edgecumbe is 5-2 on the season following the win Tuesday and 3-0 in conference play. Vincent said he’s proud of the effort the girls are showing and of how much they’ve been able to do so far this season.
“All in all I think our offense went really well. The girls are really buying into it and understanding it more. Defensively we switch between the zone and the man-to-man and they matched up well in both directions with it,” Vincent said.
The Lady Braves switch defensive strategies frequently during games and Vincent expects that trend to continue.
“It’s kind of a situation-by-situation because we like switching back and forth, and that way the offense doesn’t know what we’re going to do the next time down the court,” he said.
Mt. Edgecumbe left this morning on an early flight to Barrow for a tournament that will take them through the weekend. Vincent said it’s a tough turnaround for his team, which has played four games in the last six days.
“The girls are going to be tired. I know that going into it, especially coming off this last road trip, but the way they’re playing now and the confidence they have in each other, I think is going to pull us through it,” Vincent said.
By TOM HESSE
Reprinted with permission from the Daily Sitka Sentinel
The Mt. Edgecumbe and Sitka High boys basketball teams picked up where they left off last season Tuesday night as the Wolves came out on top of a close game in the teams’ first cross-town match-up of the season.
Mt. Edgecumbe sophomore Jaloni Pepper scored a game-high 21 points but he needed 24 as the Braves went down 56-53.
Late in the fourth quarter, Mt. Edgecumbe was down 52-44 but Skye Shipton triggered a run for the Braves with a three-point play when he was fouled making a layup. Shipton, who scored 15 on the night, hit the free throw to bring the Braves within 5 points. After some missed free throws, Pepper scored to make it a one-possession game, and before Sitka could advance the ball past half-court, Mt. Edgecumbe senior Corby Kasayulie stole the ball and scored a layup to complete a 7-0 run for the Braves that narrowed the game to 52-51 with 1:43 seconds to play.
The teams traded baskets to make the score 54-53 and a Mt. Edgecumbe turnover gave Sitka the ball with 35 seconds to play. The Braves fouled senior Brian Way to stop the clock sending Way to the line for two free throws.
Way was hurt last week and it was uncertain whether or not he would be cleared to play Tuesday night. The 6’6” post player did not start the game but did play significant minutes and scored 19 points including 5 in the fourth quarter. Way entered the game midway through the first quarter and was triple-teamed the first time he caught the ball, leading to an inadvertent elbow that sent him back to the bench with bleeding.
Way, who sported a bandage on the bridge of his nose the rest of the game, hit both his pressure free throws after the Wolves had gone 4-9 from the line in the fourth quarter up until that point.
The free throws gave Mt. Edgecumbe the ball with 3 points worth of work to do in under 30 seconds. The Braves couldn’t connect on a pair of three-point tries by Shipton and Pepper but the ball was ruled out of bounds with 1 second left so Mt. Edgecumbe got a final try at tying the game.
Pepper rolled off a number of screens and caught the ball in the corner but the sophomore from Anchorage, who had hit five threes up to that point in the game, couldn’t find the bottom of the net for number six and the tie.
Sitka coach Andy Lee said he was happy to see his defense rise to the occasion when it mattered.
“I like that Brian hit clutch free throws and in the end we really relied on our defense. It was more of an individual performance that hurt us than it was bad defense,” Lee said. “It was just an outstanding individual performance.”
Oscar Barragan shouldered much of the load for guarding the hot-shooting Pepper, and Lee said he was impressed by what Barragan did to try to slow down the attack.
“Oscar did a tremendous job. I love that Oscar has made that transition into a tough defender,” Lee said.
Way and Kendrick Payton combined for Sitka’s only scoring of the fourth quarter (10 points) while the Braves got points from four different players.
Sitka led much of the way although the Braves did hold a halftime lead following a 17-point second quarter. The squad has played only a handful of games since the winter break and the team continues to struggle with turnovers.
Mt. Edgecumbe played Sitka close the entire game and it took the Wolves until the 6:10 mark of the third quarter when AJ Inman scored on a steal and assist from Barragan, giving them a 30-29 lead.
The teams traded the lead until Payton pushed Sitka out in front with 4 consecutive points.
Sitka played tight during portions of the game, which Lee said was a result of a number of factors including a long stretch of games coming to a close as well as the renewal of the cross-town rivalry.
“I think it’s the battle of the bridge thing a little bit and then Brian came back injured ... his timing is off, he hasn’t been practicing and we tried to work him in and he played very well all things considered, but we were a little sluggish and I just think the whole atmosphere – it was a physical game,” Lee said.
Shipton’s 15 points were second to Pepper in scoring for the Braves. Kasayulie dropped in 6 points and Jarred Olin-Duncan, Paul Kewan and Ermogen Mercuelif scored 2 each.
For Sitka, Way led with 19 points followed by Payton with 13 and Barragan who had 9. AJ Inman scored 6 points and Jaren Sumauang had 5 and Joey Inman had 4.
Mt. Edgecumbe left for Barrow this morning and Sitka is off until next week when it hosts Barrow.
By TOM HESSE
Sentinel Staff Writer
Mt. Edgecumbe High School finished 10th at the State Wrestling Tournament in Anchorage this weekend behind a championship win by Paul Johanson.
Johanson, who hasn’t lost this season, won three of his four matches by fall, and the semifinal match by a 12-7 decision.
Mt. Edgecumbe coach Mike Kimber said Johanson had a close call in the semifinals during what was otherwise a dominant performance.
“Really, Paul was lucky. Paul ended up on his back and it was really, really close but he was able to fight out of it,” Kimber said. “It was nice to see Paul get that win. He’s been after it for a long time.”
Johanson wrapped up his other three matches in a combined 2:15 with the championship match taking 36 seconds. Kimber said the new seeding system for the tournament, done by a computer, skewed most of the marquee matchups to the semifinal rounds.
“The semifinals took almost three hours whereas the finals was just blowout after blowout. There were only a couple of good matches,” Kimber said.
Sitka finished 23rd in the field of nearly 50 teams behind a third place finish by senior Jaren Sumauang. Sumauang was forced out of his opening round match after being disqualified for a penalty. By losing the first match Sumauang was forced into the consolation bracket where he handily won his next five matches to finish third. Sumauang won two of the matches by technical fall, two by fall and one by major decision.
Sitka coach William Patrick said Sumauang was penalized for returning his opponent to the mat too hard. The coach said the two grapplers were battling and when Sumauang won out, his opponent hit the mat hard.
“It was just an unfortunate run of events that you never want to see happen to a guy,” Patrick said. “But Sumauang is a great kid and he was gracious about it and left the mat like a champion.”
The senior stormed through his last opponents and still finished undefeated save for his disqualification. Patrick said there’s no doubt in his mind who the best wrestler at 145 pounds is in the state.
“He clearly is the number one guy in the state. It was just an unfortunate chain of events,” Patrick said.
Sitka took four wrestlers to state. Curt Bartlett and Caleb Suarez both scored points along with Sumauang.
Suarez scored 4 points by winning two matches in the 120-pound consolation bracket, both by major decision. Suarez finished the season with a 20-7 record.
Bartlett scored three points by winning the first match of the consolation round by fall. The last of the three freshmen, Josh Goeden, went 0-2 at 182 pounds.
Patrick said his freshmen wrestled well at the big tournament and he expects big things from them in the future.
“They did pretty good. It’s a tough tournament for freshmen,” he said. “They’ll be at a whole different level next year. They’ll go through the maturity levels and they’ll be excellent wrestlers. I expect good things from this program.”
All told, 10 of Mt. Edgecumbe’s 15 wrestlers scored points for the Braves. Johanson’s first-place finish led the way with 28 points. Moses Jackson scored 9 team points by finishing sixth at 113 pounds.
Jackson lost his first match but won his next three in the consolation bracket before back-to-back losses put him in sixth place.
Deirdre Creed also finished in sixth and earned 8 points. Creed beat Sitka’s Curt Bartlett in the first round and then won her quarterfinal match by major decision.
“Deirdre made a little bit of history,” Kimber said. “She’s the first girl from a small school to score points at the state tournament two years in a row.”
Creed’s brother Trevor Creed went 1-2 in the tournament at 120 pounds and earned a single team point.
Daniel Alexie and Franklin Hoogendorn both scored 4 points. Hoogendorn won his opening round match by fall at 145 pounds. Alexie went 2-2 in the 220 pound bracket and won both his matches by major decision.
“Daniel Alexie wrestled his heart out and he was one match away from placing. If there’s a silver lining for us in this tournament it was Daniel’s effort wrestling,” Kimber said.
Kimber added that this was Alexie’s first year on the mat.
“He was a kid who was getting beat in the first rounds of matches and he went to being a regional champion and then nearly placing at state and that’s pretty cool,” he said.
Kaitlin Konahok also scored 4 points at 113 pounds. Konahok, who was 11-10 on the season, won her opening round match by forfeit. The Braves put three wrestlers into the 113-pound bracket. Miranda Johnson joined Jackson and Konahok in the weight class and went 0-2.
Jeremy Roberts and Armando DeAsis each scored 3 points by winning a match at 126 and 195 pounds, respectively. Joseph Friday rounded out the score with a point earned by sudden victory in his second match of the 138 pound bracket.
Mt. Edgecumbe finished in 10th place behind Petersburg, which finished behind the Braves in the Regional tournament. Bethel won the tournament.
Deirdre Creed: 2-3
Alphonsus Pete: 0-2
Moses Jackson: 3-3
Miranda Johnson: 0-2
Kaitlin Konahok: 1-2
Jeffery Slwooko: 0-2
Trevor Creed: 1-2
Jeremy Robers: 1-2
Joseph Friday: 1-2
Franklin Hoogendorn: 1-2
Anthony Peter: 0-2
Armando DeAsis: 1-2
Kole Lliaban: 0-2
Daniel Alexie: 2-2
Paul Johanson: 4-0
By TOM HESSESentinel Staff Writer Brother and sister combinations? Sure. “Of course, there’s the Hutchisons.” There have been several sets of twins as well. “The Rogers twins were spectacular. Between the two of them they had three state championships.” But a brother/sister set of twin wrestlers who were both talented enough to score points at the state tournament? That’s something Mt. Edgecumbe wrestling coach Mike Kimber has trouble tracking down in his memory banks. “(There have been) brother/sister combinations but not twins. Not too often,” Kimber said. “Boys. But never a boy and a girl pair. It’s pretty amazing.” Mt. Edgecumbe High seniors Deirdre Creed and Trevor Creed, from Kotzebue, qualified for the state wrestling tournament in Anchorage this weekend after another solid season on the mat. Trevor won the Southeast Region tournament in the 120-pound weight class on Saturday and Deirdre finished third at 98 pounds. Deirdre, who is equal parts coach and wrestler, said she has higher aspirations for herself and her brother this weekend. “Well, we both got fifth last year so I want to see some improvement from both of us,” she said. Kimber said it’s in Deirdre’s nature to speak up about wanting to see improvement from the other Edgecumbe wrestlers, particularly her brother. In watching the twins compete he’s noticed the obvious similarities but he’s also seen big differences in their approach to the sport. “They’re different. They’re much different, yeah. Deedee is really a student of the sport. She hangs out with the coaches. She listens to what we say. She comes up with suggestions and she asks us why we do things,” Kimber said. “And Trevor, not that he’s not a serious wrestler, he just goes at it a little bit differently.” “They’re both captains, but Deedee is the heart and soul of this team,” Kimber said. “Deedee is much more critical of Trevor’s wrestling than he is of hers.” While Deirdre acts as a de facto assistant coach, Trevor leads by showing up in the biggest moments, Kimber said. “Trevor rises to the occasions for the big matches. This is the second year in a row that he’s won Regions and not been the number one seed,” Kimber said. Trevor said his success lately has something to do with his sister’s insights to the sport and the lessons on the mat he received at an early age. “She used to beat me all the time,” he said. Since then, the lifetime series record has evened out a little but Deirdre said she may still hold the overall record. “Well, if you include middle and elementary school I would say I do (have more wins) but he’s actually improved a lot since back then,” Deirdre said. “He’s heavier now. I mean, I can get him on takedowns every now and then but he’s also a lot smarter He’s been wrestling a lot smarter.” “Trevor is my favorite person to wrestle. We don’t really get to compete against each other any more but he’s my favorite person to wrestle because we have a fun time and it’s good competition,” she said. When the two do get a chance to square off it’s a struggle to surprise one another, they said. After years of wrestling together it’s hard for either to come up with a strategy the other hasn’t seen before. “A lot of times we know what the other person is going to do next because we’ve been wrestling for so long,” Trevor said. “That’s the fun part is when they know what you’re going to do but you catch them anyways,” Deirdre added. The challenging part for either of them is not wrestling each other but watching each other wrestle. “When I watch Trevor wrestle it feels like I just wrestled my own match. I’m actually, like, practicing the moves in the air while I’m watching and it’s pretty ridiculous to watch me on the sidelines,” Deirdre said. “For me, watching her matches I do the same thing where I’m doing the moves on the side. And when there’s a bad call I yell and complain when I probably shouldn’t be yelling,” Trevor added. Kimber said the two strike a good balance between working together and working apart. “They’re close as any set of twins I’ve ever coached but they don’t need each other to be successful,” Kimber said. “They’re both successful in their own ways. I will say that the growth of success has been much greater for Trevor. I think a lot of people were ‘Deedee’ this, ‘Deedee that’ and when he was a freshman I told him ‘when you’re a senior it’s not going to be Deedee this, Deedee that, it’s going to be Trevor, too’ and he’s grown into that. He’s grown into his own identity and his own level of success.” And as Trevor has improved into a Regional champion, Deirdre is on the side of the mat calling out strategy like she does for everyone. When Trevor was wrestling in the finals at Regionals last weekend, Deirdre was on the sidelines enduring the match every bit as personally as Trevor. “I was so proud of Trevor when he won this weekend. That was the first time I’ve ever cried out of happiness and I just jumped up I was so happy because that kid was a tough kid,” she said. Both said they still dedicate their matches to each other regardless of the loss of cool points. “I don’t care if that’s cheesy,” Deirdre quipped. Separately they are each hoping to find their way to the finals at the state tournament. “The competition is tough this year but I think we can do as well as we did last year if not better. I really want to get into the finals and we’ll see if that happens,” Deirdre said. In light of their individual accomplishments, what could the pair accomplish as a duo? Could they combine to beat teammate Paul Johanson, who won the heavyweight division at Regionals this weekend? “Well I could take on Paul one-on-one,” Deirdre joked. “It’s funny. He’s like exactly a hundred pounds heavier than I am ...” Trevor said. “So our weight combined is as much as Paul weighs,” Deirdre said. “So I guess, yeah, we could take him two-on-one.” “Each person gets a leg,” Trevor added.
By TOM HESSE
Sentinel Staff Writer
After finishing fifth in the state tournament last season, Mt. Edgecumbe High is back on the floor for the 2013/14 season with few familiar faces.
“You’ll recognize one kid. We only have one returner,” head coach Archie Young said.
Donald Edenshaw is the only player back from last season’s team, which peaked at the end of the season to win the Regional tournament as a 2-seed and then win a game at the State championship in Anchorage. Turnover at Mt. Edgecumbe is nothing new for Young, who spends the first few weeks of the season before the kids go home for the holidays giving a crash course on his practice style.
“For us, more than anything right now, it’s for the new kids .... understanding what my expectations are and what I want from them every day in practice. For a few of these kids my expectations are a little different from what they’re used to. One of the biggest things, too, is the verbiage is different. If you’ve been coached by someone who says things in different ways, sometimes I’m saying the same thing but I’m referencing it with different words,” Young said. “So it’s more them getting comfortable with me so we can reference things and start building when we come back.”
Another issue the Mt. Edgecumbe coaching staff is used to is being undersized. This year Young said his team is actually bigger than usual, but so is everybody else in the conference. Petersburg is returning several bigs and gaining another freshman big, and Sitka has Brian Way, Kendrick Payton and A.J. Inman returning under the basket.
“It’s funny cause one of my former players is here helping out ... and he said ‘you guys seem kind of small,’ and I said ‘no, we’re big compared to last year, but Petersburg and Sitka are huge.’ I mean, when you’re throwing a minimum of two 6’6” kids on the floor at the same time for both teams, that’s a lot of dang size. It’s a lot of size,” Young said.
“So it’s going to be interesting to see how we all match up to each other and, you know, coach (Rick) Brock and coach (Andy) Lee and what they try to exploit. It’ll be interesting how it’s all going to shake out.”
Mt. Edgecumbe Braves won’t see the other conference teams until late January when they host Petersburg and then they’ll get Sitka for the first time on Jan. 28. Last season was the first year of the reshuffled Region V that left Petersburg, Sitka and the Braves as the only 3A teams in the region. Young’s squad was the first team to win in the new system. After losing their first three games to the Wolves, Mt. Edgecumbe won the last game of the regular season and then beat Sitka twice in the Region tournament to advance to state.
Young said he’s not adjusting his strategy based on the lessons of last year.
“No, not really. I mean, it sounds cheesey or whatever you want to say; cliched, but it’s still about trying to get better for March,” Young said.
“The biggest thing is still Regionals. We’re going to play Petersburg, we’re going to play Sitka no matter what. It’s nice to win in the regular season, if you can, to build that confidence but it comes down to Regionals.”
Mt. Edgecumbe hosted the Regional tournament last season. This year it will move to Juneau-Douglas High School.
The Braves won’t get any home games in before the break. They’ll be at Nikiski next week and then at the Soldotna tournament for the weekend. When they come back they’ll catch Nikiski a second time in addition to a game in Seward. Mt. Edgecumbe won’t play its first home game until that first conference game against Petersburg.
The team is a few games light of a full schedule right now but Young said he still likes the look of the road ahead.
“We’re short a few games but it’s not bad. I’d like to have more different opponents like when we go to Sohi we play Bethel first then Bethel is coming here ... it’d be nice to have more of a variety but it’s not bad,” he said.
In the early part of the season Young said he wants his team to get sound on half-court defense, which will come in handy against the bigger lineups of Sitka and Petersburg. He is also looking to see how kids respond to the first bit of adversity.
“Our biggest focus early, and I think it’s going to be everybody’s, is half-court defense. I need to see these guys in a gym with a crowd to find out who they are. Watching them in an open gym ... is one thing but then putting them in a gym in front of peers and friends, some kids pucker up and some kids step up so I’ll be curious to see what happens next week,” Young said.
“For us to be successful is going to be half-court defense and the way we value possessions. We have to value every possession and be very solid in our half-court defense.”
Dec. 18: At Nikiski
Dec. 19-21: At Sohi Tournament
Jan. 9: At Seward
Jan. 11: At Nikiski
Jan. 23-25: Petersburg
Jan. 28: Sitka
Jan. 30-Feb. 1: At Barrow
Feb. 7-8: Bethel
Feb. 11: At Sitka
Feb. 13: Kenai
Feb. 14-15: At Petersburg
Feb. 28: At Sitka
Mar. 1: Sitka
Mar. 4-8: Regional Tournament in Juneau
By TOM HESSE
Sentinel Staff Writer
For the fourth year in a row Mt. Edgecumbe High faced Grace Christian High School in the 3A State Volleyball finals and this time it was the Lady Grizzlies who came out on top.
Mt. Edgecumbe won the last two state titles and coach Richard Calkins said the team was disappointed to settle for second but he was proud of the way they competed.
“In the championship match we played very hard – we just got beat by a team that was better than us that day,” Calkins said. “Of course, you never like to lose but they played a great match and they did all the little things right.”
The Lady Braves were swept in both matches against Grace Christian but lost only one set to another team the entire tournament. The Lady Braves started the tournament as spectators because bad weather forced Barrow to forfeit the opening-round match.
In their first on-court action, Mt. Edgecumbe swept Monroe Catholic 25-21, 25-16, 25-22 giving them a berth to the semifinal match against Grace Christian. In beating the Lady Braves 25-22, 25-19, 25-23, Grace Christian was able to secure a spot in the championship match where they waited for the winner of the bottom bracket.
Having lost in the semifinal of the top bracket, Mt. Edgecumbe was put directly into the bottom bracket for a match against Skyview – the winner of which would play Grace Christian again. The Lady Braves lost both of their regular season matches to Skyview earlier in the year but in the state tournament Mt. Edgecumbe won in four sets, 25-21, 25-21, 20-25, 25-20.
In their second crack at the Lady Grizzlies, the Lady Braves nearly took the first set. Calkins said they had a shot at game-point but the Grace Christian defense held them off. Edgecumbe lost the first set 27-25.
“That first game, I still think if we could have pulled that game out in the first game things would have gone differently,” Calkins said.
Grace Christian won the next two sets 25-14, 25-21 to dethrone Edgecumbe. The two teams have kept up a regular-season rivalry on top of their post-season familiarity and Calkins said it has made for a good rivalry.
“We’re kind of familiar with each other,” Calkins joked.
Calkins said he plans to retire at the end of this year having coached the team for 12 seasons. Mt. Edgecumbe has no seniors on its varsity roster but the nature of the school doesn’t guarantee any returns.
Three juniors made the All-Tournament team for the Lady Braves. Taryn White, Kathy Holly and Renatta Olson all cracked the list.
Other juniors on the team are Melinda Merlino, Eden Cronk and Angelique Zeller. Tori Thomas, Martha Kasayulie and Braedyn Hazelaar are sophomores and the teams’ two freshmen are Rachelle Persson and Zhane White.
The Lady Braves got to state with a spotless conference record and a near-perfect run through the Regional tournament.
“We’re super proud of the girls and we asked them to get better every day and that’s what they did. It really was a great season,” Calkins said.
By TOM HESSE
Sentinel Staff Writer
The Mt. Edgecumbe High volleyball team will head to Anchorage to defend their back-to-back 3A state titles after defeating Sitka for the Region V crown over the weekend at Mt. Edgecumbe High School.
The Lady Braves swept Sitka in both matches of the double-elimination tournament to punch their ticket to the state championship. In the last meeting Saturday night, the Lady Wolves – who had come back from two sets down to Petersburg to play Mt. Edgecumbe – pushed Mt. Edgecumbe during the opening set before the Lady Braves found their stride.
Mt. Edgecumbe opened the championship match with a 3-1 lead before Sitka senior Melissa Dumag spiked the ball to bring the score within one.
Edgecumbe’s Taryn White answered with a kill of her own but then a block by Sitka’s Farrah Davis followed by a kill from Maraelia Romine gave Sitka its only lead of the night.
White and Kathy Holly traded kills to give the Lady Braves their lead back and start a 15-6 run.
Down 20-11, Davis blocked another kill attempt which sparked the Lady Wolves’ offense. Natalie Galanin added a kill to make the score 21-12. After the team traded side outs, Sitka went on a 6-point run with Isa Ramil serving that narrowed the gap to 22-19.
After a timeout, Edgecumbe scored 3 of the last 4 points and put the set away, 25-20, with a kill from sophomore Payton Weisz.
In the second set the Lady Braves got a side out for their first point setting up the junior Holly for serving. Holly then had to serve the ball 13 times before getting a break as the Lady Braves went on a scoring run that included 6 kills from White, one from Weisz and an ace from Holly who finally turned the ball over after the Lady Braves ran out to a 14-0 lead. Mt. Edgecumbe went on to win the set 25-4.
In the final set Holly started out serving for Edgecumbe and outdid her previous performance by leading her team to a 15-0 lead. Mt. Edgecumbe coach Richard Calkins said Holly’s serving performance set the Lady Braves up to run their offense as best they could because of how tough she was making it for Sitka to make easy passes out of the serve.
“She did an awesome job serving. She served the ball tough and we got balls back over the net and then, Eden (Cronk) and Renatta (Olson), I don’t know what they passed as far as their percentage tonight but it was incredible,” Calkins said.
“We stress that free ball pass and free ball offense and once you got serving the ball tough that ball comes back over the net and then it’s just pass, boom.”
The Lady Braves appeared to have everything working for them on the final match of the tournament. While up 20-4, White had a kill-attempt blocked and Edgecumbe sophomore Braedyn Hazelaar was able to turn it into points when her desperation dig snuck in by the sideline.
Mt. Edgecumbe wrapped up the tournament with a 25-6 win in the final set. Holly, White and Olson were all named to the All-Conference team along with Romine and Galanin for Sitka.
The Lady Braves will head to Anchorage this week looking to defend their two state championships. Calkins said he likes what he saw at the regional tournament and hopes it carries over.
“That’s what we just told the girls is that the progression that they made from league to regionals was a huge progression especially in the confidence that they played with this weekend and just the consistency that they played with this weekend,” he said. “There were parts of our game that weren’t clicking all the time but they didn’t let it get them down, they didn’t have those lulls and picked each other up and that’s something we’ve been lacking this year. To see that in regionals was really nice and it’s something we need to carry on up to the state tournament.”
The Mt. Edgecumbe gym was full for nearly every match, which Calkins said is representative of the support that MEHS and Sitka have for the tournament. Edgecumbe will again have to leave the atmosphere of Southeast to compete for a state title but Calkins said defense travels well and he’s optimistic about what his team is capable of.
“We’ve had an opportunity to see all the top teams in the state and we know that we can compete with anybody that’s going to be up there, and in some ways that’s a good place to be in cause we know that we control our own destiny,” Calkins said. “We think if we go up there and play the way that we think we’re capable of playing then there’s no way we can’t come back with another state title but there’s also four or five other teams that are saying the same thing right now so that’s the fun part about it.”
Sitka over Petersburg
After cruising past Petersburg in three sets (25-23, 25-22, 25-10) to open the tournament on Friday, Sitka lost to Mt. Edgecumbe in the second game of the tournament in three sets (9-25, 16-25, 12-25).
The loss sent Sitka back down to play Petersburg to compete for another shot at the Lady Braves and in the second meeting early Saturday afternoon, the Lady Wolves struggled.
“That semi-final game was just unreal,” Sitka coach Robert Suarez said.
Sitka fell down early in the first set trailing by as many as 6 before senior Courtney Lecrone gave Sitka a 2-point lead with back-to-back aces to make it 20-18. Petersburg responded with 2 points of their own but Galanin got the lead back on a kill to make it 21-20. The Lady Vikings’ defense then tightened up and helped carry them to a 25-22 win in the opening set.
Petersburg then pushed Sitka to the edge of elimination by winning the second set 25-18.
In the third set the Lady Wolves, who were in a hitting and passing slump the entire match, ground their way to a win to stave off elimination. Kalene Koelling got things started with an ace and a little later the Lady Wolves took a 5-2 lead on back-to-back kills from Romine and Dumag.
Petersburg drew even with Sitka at 10-10 and jumped ahead 17-14 before Sitka started to put some points together. The Lady Wolves traded points with Petersburg until Davis brought Sitka within 2 points of the win on a kill. Petersburg took at 24-23 lead but Sitka scored the next 3 points, all on kills from Romine, to win 26-24 and force a fourth set.
In the fourth set Sitka came out looking like the team that had swept Petersburg in three of four matches (winning the fourth 3-1) during the regular season. The Lady Wolves jumped out to a 18-6 lead that ended with an 8-point run. Ramil served the final 8 points of the run and had two aces.
The Lady Wolves wrapped up the fourth set 25-10 to force a 15-point tiebreaker.
Petersburg put Sitka in the hole again during the fifth set by taking a 9-5 lead. Ramil went on another serving tear to take a 10-9 lead aided by kills from Galanin and Dumag. The Lady Vikings evened the game at 10 but Sitka took a 12-10 lead and never looked back as they completed the comeback with the 15-12 victory to secure second place in the region tournament.
“Under the circumstances under which we took second was probably the highlight of my coaching career with this team,” Suarez said. “We were just struggling all around and found a way to win. Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it any better.”
As the number two team in the tournament, Sitka played more games than any other team (four compared to two for Mt. Edgecumbe and Petersburg) and Suarez said he was happy with how his team handled the grind of the tournament.
Sitka will graduate five seniors: Lecrone, Dumag, Davis, Ramil and Abi Erickson.
Romine, Galanin, Koelling, and Kaytlin Mead are all juniors and the team has one sophomore in Shelby Schmidt and one freshman in Zoe Krupa.
Suarez just finished the second season at the helm for the Lady Wolves. He said he likes the way the team is developing.
“It’s only the second season and I spent a lot of time revamping our defense and our approach to that so we’re just going to keep building on that,” he said. “Skills don’t happen overnight but we’ll keep working on that.”