By Craig Giammona
Courtesy Daily Sitka Sentinel
The Mt. Edgecumbe Braves took sole possession of first place in the 3A Southeast conference with a 58-38 win over crosstown rival Sitka High Feb. 15 at a packed B.J. McGillis Gymnasium.
It was a tournament atmosphere on Japonski Island as the local teams, both 8-0 in the conference entering the game, met for the first time this season.
Leading by 7 points at the half, the Braves took control of the game in the third quarter behind Travante Williams, who ended up with 24 points and 16 rebounds.
Williams got after loose balls, deflected passes and scored key second-chance points as the Braves went ahead 44-31 after three quarters.
“Travante played the way he’s capable of,” MEHS coach Archie Young said. “He controlled the game with different aspects.”
Mt. Edgecumbe's Travante Williams goes up for a jumper in the lane Feb. 15 during a conference game against Sitka High. (Photo by James Poulson, Sitka Sentinel)
Savion Waters, after a quiet first half, ended up with 13 points, while Sean Melovidov, a senior captain from St. Paul Island, had 10 points and 7 boards.
But for Young, the key to victory was defense. After giving up 16 points in the first quarter, the Braves’ defense tightened up as Sitka managed just 22 points the rest of the way.
“Defensively, I thought we did a nice job,” Young said.
The Braves improved to 14-3 overall on the season and 9-0 in Southeast play. They have not yet lost to a 3A team this season. The Braves will host Haines for two conference games this weekend, before closing out the regular season next Tuesday night with a rematch against Sitka.
Young has some new faces on the MEHS roster this season, and while the Braves seem to have gelled, they still have room for improvement, he said.
“I’m excited about where we can get to,” Young said. “I think we’ve become a team, now we’re just fine-tuning things.
The game Tuesday hung in the balance in the early minutes of the second half. Mik Potrzuski opened the scoring for Sitka and the Wolves were down 31-26. But the Braves responded with a 7-2 run that put them up 38-28 and their lead stayed in double digits the rest of the way.
Edgecumbe is an extremely fast team and they pushed the pace relentlessly Tuesday until the fourth quarter, when they pushed their lead toward 20 points. At that point, they started to run the clock with a deliberate offensive set, further eliminating the chance for a Sitka comeback.
Sitka coach Andy Lee acknowledged that the Wolves were fatigued in the second half, but said it had more to do with the emotions of playing in a big-game setting.
Sean Melovidov, of Mt. Edgecmbe, drives toward the hoop Feb. 15. (Photo by James Poulson, Sitka Sentinel)
“Our guys are in great shape,” Lee said. “Going to all the places we’ve gone to, we haven’t seen an arena atmosphere like that. The setting affected us a bit, we have to learn from that.”
He added: “We had guys rise up to the individual challenge, (but) we didn’t rise up to the team challenge. The situation makes guys do things out of character. I thought we just got out of character because of the setting; we have to learn from that.”
Prior to the game with Sitka, the Braves cruised past Metlakatla in a pair of conference games Feb. 11-12. They won 83-19 and 86-35 in games that were never close. Waters led the Braves both nights, scoring 21 and 23 points. Waters was one of six Edgecumbe scorers in double figures Feb. 11, including Dominique Hall (14), Zach Ivanoff (14), Cody Sherman (12), Travante Williams (11) and Sean Melovidov (10). In the Feb. 12 game, Williams had 17 for Edgecumbe while Sherman added 11, Hall had 9 Sean Melovidov and Kacy Green each scored 7. Bryan Nick came off the bench to score 5 points.