Daily Sitka Sentinel

Lady Braves Look to Finish Strong

    The Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves swept two games against Haines over the weekend to stay alive in the two-team race for a conference regular season title.
    The Lady Braves won 56-39 Friday night in what may have been their best performance of the season. The Lady Braves jumped out to a 15-6 lead after the first quarter and never trailed in the game as freshman Taryn White led the way with 13 points and 14 rebounds. MEHS wasn’t quite as sharp Saturday, but the Lady Braves found their stride in overtime, outscoring Haines 12-2 in the extra frame to take a 48-38 win.
    The Lady Braves have won their last six conference games and seem to be playing their best basketball at the right time.
    “It’s been fun the last couple of weeks to see them starting to put it together,” coach Carl Blackhurst said.
    The Region V tournament is just about a week away and the Lady Braves are looking to return to the state tournament after an early exit from postseason play in 2011.
    “What happened last year is in the back of their mind,” Blackhurst said. “They want to get back to state, that’s the big push.”
    The big test for the Lady Braves will come this weekend, with two games against Sitka High. The Lady Wolves are 10-0 in the conference and hold a two-game lead with two to play. The math is fairly simply at this point in the season and the Lady Braves have an outside chance to win the regular season title.
    To do that, MEHS needs two wins this weekend over a team that is 19-3 overall and has lost to just one 3A team this year.
    “Sitka has been playing awesome,” Blackhurst said. “They’ve pretty much dispatched everybody they’ve come across. This will be a real test to see where we’re at.”
    He added: “If we can hold our own with them I’ll feel a little better about going into the tournament.”
    While the Lady Braves are alive for the regular season title, and a first-round bye at Region V, they can also fall to third in the conference standings. The Craig Lady Panthers, 6-4 in the conference, have two games remaining against Metlakatla. With two Craig wins and two Edgecumbe losses, both teams would end up 8-4.  Craig and MEHS split two games in December, but Craig holds the tiebreaker on the strength of a 61-36 win over the Lady Braves.
    Edgecumbe got a boost Friday from the return of Danielle Fields, who had been out after suffering a concussion in a game earlier this month against Thunder Mountain. But injuries and illness continued to plague the MEHS rotation. Just as Fields returned to action, starter Scarlett Beaver was ruled out with “walking pneumonia.”
    Blackhurst said he hoped to get Beaver back for the games against Sitka this weekend.
    In Friday’s game, the Lady Braves shot the ball well and were able to penetrate through the heart of the zone defense employed by Haines. Brandi Hale ended up with 13 points, while Mariah Martin and Brenna Johanson scored 8 each and Fields had 4.
    Hannah Wing got 17 for Haines.
    Blackhurst said Haines did a much better job defensively Saturday. The teams traded baskets for four quarters and a few free throws by Hale down the stretch helped MEHS keep pace, Blackhurst said.
    When regulation ended the score was knotted 36-36. And in overtime the Lady Braves looked like a different team, or at least the one that won easily on Friday.
    “They seemed relaxed,” Blackhurst said. “They just came out executed really well. Things just clicked.”
    Edgecumbe shot 7-7 from the free throw line in overtime.
    White had another double-double for MEHS, scoring 20 points. Hale had 12 points and Venita Demoski scored 9. Blackhurst said Demoski’s defense on Wing, the Haines point guard, was the difference in overtime.
    Wing ended up with 13 points.
    The wins over Haines improved Mt. Edgecumbe to 12-4 overall and 8-2 in the conference.
    Haines dropped to 5-7 in conference play and will enter the Region V Tournament as the fourth seed.
Conference Standings
Sitka High (10-0)
Edgecumbe (8-2)
Craig (6-4)
Haines (5-7)
Metlakatla (4-6)
Wrangell (4-8)
Petersburg (1-11)
Games remaining: Sitka vs. Edgecumbe; Craig vs. Metlakatla.

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