By Craig Giammona
Courtesy Daily Sitka Sentinel
The Mt. Edgecumbe High Lady Braves lost a pair of conference games to Craig Feb. 4-5 at B.J. McGillis Gymnasium.
The Lady Braves were in both games, but on back-to-back nights the Craig Lady Panthers surged to start the fourth quarter and rolled to victory.
Craig won 57-39 Friday and 71-49 Saturday to improve to 8-0 in Southeast play this season.
“That was a little frustrating,” MEHS coach Carl Blackhurst said. “I thought the scores didn’t really reflect how well we played.”
The losses dropped the Lady Braves to 2-4 in conference play
and 3-10 overall. Blackhurst and his team will head south for two conference
games at Metlakatla Feb. 11-12. First up is a Feb. 10 game against 4A
The games against Craig followed a similar script Friday and Saturday nights.
Both nights the Lady Braves played Craig even in the first quarter and ended up down by 9 heading into the fourth. On Friday, Craig opened the fourth quarter with a 12-1 run that put the game away. On Saturday night, the run was 17-2 as the Lady Panthers grabbed another victory.
“They were very good,” Blackhurst said. “They didn’t make a lot of mistakes.”
Blackhurst, in his fifth year as the head girls coach at Edgecumbe, said it was the first time in his tenure that the Lady Braves have lost to Craig.
Blackhurst said the Lady Braves didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in either game. The offense was better Saturday night, but the Lady Braves were unable to keep pace in the fourth, the coach said.
“I thought we played better offensively the second night, until the fourth quarter,” Blackhurst said. “We just didn’t execute when we needed to down the stretch.”
Defensively, the Lady Braves went to a zone Saturday in an effort to slow down Owen. It seemed to work Ð Owen spent less time in the lane but shot the ball well from outside Ð but Edgecumbe was hurt by weakside rebounds and second-chance points for Craig.
“They seem like little things, but they end up costing you 10 to 15 points in the end,” Blackhurst said, adding: “I was encouraged by a lot of things I saw, we just need to put it together for four quarters.”
Brandi Hale led Edgecumbe Friday with 13 points, while Kristin Johanson had 7 and Tasha King scored 5. The game was tied 13-13 after the first quarter and the Lady Braves were down 25-17 heading into the half. Edgecumbe got within 5 points in the third, but it was Craig’s run to start the fourth that put the game away.
On Saturday, Johanson had 18 points for Edgecumbe, while
Venita Demoski had a breakout game with 14. Hale added 10 points for the Lady
Saturday’s game was also tied 13-13. Craig opened the game on a 9-0 run and led 11-2 before the Lady Braves got going offensively and stopped the bleeding.
Craig was up 16-13 after the first quarter and built a 33-22 halftime lead. The Lady Braves cut the Craig lead to 7 points in the third quarter at 43-36, but Craig regrouped and led 49-40 at the start of the third. And for the second straight night they opened the final quarter with a big run and clinched another conference win.
Mt. Edgecumbe has six conference games remaining, including five on the road. After the trip to Metlakatla this weekend, the Lady Braves will travel to Haines for two games. They’ll close out the season with a home-and-away series with Sitka Feb. 25-26.
Blackhurst said he still has about three weeks before the Region V tournament as he tries to mold his team into a group that can battle for a state berth.
“We can do a lot of work in that time,” he said.