Daily Sitka Sentinel

Lady Wolves Win Regular Season Conference Title

    The Sitka High Lady Wolves wrapped up the 3A Southeast Conference regular season title Friday night with a 48-31 win over Mt. Edgecumbe.
    The win on senior night at SHS improved the Lady Wolves to 11-0 in conference play and assured them a first-round bye at the Region V tournament, which opens Wednesday in Ketchikan.
    On Saturday, the Lady Wolves closed out their second undefeated conference season in three years with a 48-44 win over the Lady Braves on Japonski Island. Sitka led by the MEHS senior night game 25-18 at the half and opened up a 13-point lead in the third quarter before Edgecumbe sophomore Scarlett Beaver fueled a 10-0 MEHS run that got the Lady Braves back within a basket at 33-31.
    The MEHS girls tied it early in the fourth and took a 36-35 lead before the Lady Wolves rallied and held on for a four-point win. Beaver led all scorers with 19 points. She was 7-11 from the field, including 3-4 from behind the three-point arc. Brenna Johanson ended with 11 points and 6 boards, Taryn White had 6 points and 8 rebounds and Mariah Martin got 5 points. The Lady Wolves got balanced scoring, as they have all season. Megan Reid had a team-high 12 points to go with 7 boards for Sitka, while Karly Fuller added 9. Hunter Huddlestun scored 8, Katina Wathen got 7 and Sariah Ady had 7 points, 9 boards and 5 assists.  A night after Ady had 18 points, the Lady Braves tried to keep the ball out of the post and swarmed the Sitka High center when she got the ball in the lane. It was a preview of a strategy the Lady Wolves could see from opponents this week.
    The victory Saturday improved the SHS girls to 21-3 overall on the season and 12-0 in conference play. (Officially, the Lady Wolves are 20-2 because a loss against Juneau-Douglas and win over Klawock were considered exhibition games by the state). The Lady Wolves are 50-5 against conference opponents the last four seasons, a  run that dates back to 2009, when SHS joined the 3A Southeast Conference. Two more wins this week and the Lady Wolves will bring a Southeast trophy back to Baranof Island, their first since 2010.
    The Lady Wolves will head south looking for a title and a return trip to the state tournament, where they’ve finished third the last three years. This time around, the Sitka girls hope to play for a state title, and the march to Anchorage will begin Thursday with a game against Haines or Wrangell. SHS coach Rich Krupa sounded an old theme when he spoke to his team after the win Saturday: with the postseason set to begin, regular season records are out the window.
    “It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win the tournament,” Krupa said, when asked about his message to the Lady Wolves following Saturday’s game. He said getting 20 wins was an impressive feat, but the Lady Wolves still have work ahead of them. They turned the ball over just 8 times Friday night, and will travel to Ketchikan knowing they’ll be tough to beat if they execute on offense and play their signature brand of pressure defense.
    “We have to keep pushing ourselves. Doing the little things will be the key,” Krupa said.
    He said Saturday’s close game could end up being a “blessing in disguise.” He said the Lady Wolves were intense and focused heading into Friday’s game, but may have eased off the gas pedal a bit Saturday.
    “I think it’s good to get a close game right before regionals,” Krupa said.
    The two losses against Sitka dropped the Lady Braves to 12-6 overall on the season and 8-4 in the conference. The MEHS girls ended up third in the conference and will take on Metlakatla Wednesday in the first-round at Region V.
    The Lady Braves struggled offensively Friday against Sitka’s smothering full-court defense. MEHS had 20 turnovers in the game and scored 10 field goals, five in each half.
    It seemed like the Lady Wolves were headed for another easy win Saturday, but the Lady Braves made a push that might give the MEHS girls some momentum as the prepare for regionals.
    The Lady Braves missed state last year for the first time in at least 15 years and MEHS coach Carl Blackhurst is eager to get his squad back to Anchorage.
    The Region draw could be tough on Mt. Edgecumbe. Metlakatla is a dangerous team, particularly with the games in Ketchikan, a short ferry ride from Annette Island. The Lady Braves beat the Miss Chiefs twice earlier this month on Japonski Island, but the games were tight, with Edgecumbe winning 49-45 and 47-44.
    If the Lady Braves get by Metlakatla they’ll likely face Craig, the defending 3A Region V champs, in the second round. The Lady Panthers, seeded second, play seventh-seeded Petersburg (1-11) in the first round Wednesday.
    Craig was 8-4 in the conference this season. They lost twice to Sitka and dropped games to Edgecumbe and Haines.
    The Region V tournament is double elimination and an early-round loss will mean a tough slog through the back side of the bracket to the state play-in game, which is scheduled for next Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
    The Lady Wolves took control early in Friday’s game building a 6-0 lead on their way to a 14-5 advantage after the first quarter. Kelsi Kubik knocked down a three at the end of the first to put Sitka up 9 and a bucket by Ady at the end of the first half made the score 23-13. The Lady Braves hung around in the third, but were never able to muster the kind of run they needed to get back in the game. Turnovers and missed shots were a constant issue. Even when the Lady Braves got the ball in good position they seemed to be unlucky, with layups and short jumpers rolling off the rims at SHS.
    The Lady Wolves steadily built their lead in the third quarter and were up 35-21 heading into the fourth. The biggest lead of the night for Sitka came at the end of the game.
    Ady ended up with 18 points and 7 boards, while Kubic had 8 points and Karly Fuller had 7. Wathen had 6, Huddlestun scored 4, Reid had 3 and Kendall Phippen had 2.
    White led Edgecumbe with 9 points, Beaver had 8 and 5 rebounds and Brandi Hale scored 5.
    The Lady Braves came hard out Saturday as they sought to score an upset and earn the second-seed at Region V. Sitka High had wrapped up the regular season title, but the Lady Braves were playing Saturday to avoid a first-round game against Metlakatla.
    Edgecumbe scored the game’s first bucket and led 7-4 before Sitka ended the first quarter on a 10-0 run, with Sidney Riggs, Ady and Reid getting into the act.
    The Lady Braves were behind 17-9 and 20-12 in the second before a run by Beaver got MEHS back into the game. She knocked down a three, then made a steal and scored to cut the Sitka lead to 20-18 with about 1:30 to play in the half.
    The Lady Braves were down 22-18 in the final seconds of the second quarter when an untimely foul sent Huddlestun to the line.
    The senior from Sitka was hacked on a last-second three-point attempt and she nailed three straight free throws with no time on the clock to give the Lady Wolves as 25-18 lead heading into the half.
    It was a bad break for the Lady Braves and Sitka seized the momentum early in the third, building a 31-18 lead on an 11-0 run that stretched back to the latter part of the second quarter. It was 33-21 when Beaver got going, this time with 8 straight points.
    It was 35-31 Sitka as the fourth quarter opened and five straight points by Johanson – she scored a three-point play, then hit two more free throws – gave Edgecumbe the lead at 36-35. The Lady Braves had made a 15-2 run to take the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter.
    Fuller answered for Sitka with a three-point play, Wathen made a steal and scored and Kubic hit a three to put Sitka back up 43-35 with 4:02 to play.
    Beaver and White scored the next four points for Edgecumbe as the Lady Braves pulled within a bucket at the 3:10 mark.
    A basket by Reid put Sitka up 45-41, but with 1:30 to go, a three by Hale went about halfway down the hoop before falling out and into the hands of Sitka.
    The Lady Wolves iced the game away with a few key offensive rebounds and free throws. The 48-44 win was the closest conference game of the season for the Lady Wolves.
Senior Night
    On Friday, seniors from the Lady Wolves basketball team and the cheer squad were honored at a packed SHS gym. Krupa has five seniors on his team and he put them on the floor to start the game: Sariah Ady, Hunter Huddlestun, Karly Fuller, Katina Wathen and Kelsi Kubic.
    Seniors Kaity McAdams, Samantha Sparks, Alex Bianchi, Ali Daniels and Yvonne Wilkes were honored from the cheer squad.
    On Saturday, it was senior night on Japonski Island. MEHS coach Carl Blackhurst honored six seniors before the start of the game: Brenna Johanson, Brandi Hale, Melissa Fisher, Janice Homekingkeo, Marie Friday and Francine Tikiun.
    Senior cheerleaders Clara McConnell and Tiana Williams were also honored.
Final Conference Standings
Girls
1) Sitka High (12-0)
2) Craig (8-4)
3) Edgecumbe (8-4)
4) Haines 5-7
5) Wrangell 4-8
6) Metlakatla (4-8)
7) Petersburg (1-11)
Boys
1) Sitka High (11-1)
2) Haines (8-4)
3) Edgecumbe (8-5)
4) Metlakatla (7-5)
5) Craig (6-6)
6) Petersburg (2-10)
7) Wrangell (0-12)
Past 3A Conference Champs
(Girls listed first, then boys)
2011, Craig;  Edgecumbe
2010, Sitka High;  Haines
2009, MEHS;  Petersburg
2008, MEHS;  Petersburg
2007, Petersburg;  Petersburg
2006, MEHS;  Petersburg
2005, MEHS;  Edgecumbe
2004, Petersburg;  Metlakatla
2003, Petersburg;  Craig
2002, MEHS;  Wrangell
2001, MEHS;  Wrangell
2000, MEHS;  Wrangell
1999, MEHS;  Wrangell
1998, Petersburg;  Petersburg
1997, Petersburg;  Petersburg
1996, MEHS;  Haines
1995, MEHS;  Haines
1994, Wrangell;  Wrangell
1993, Wrangell;  Edgecumbe
1992, Wrangell;  Wrangell
1991, Metlakatla;  Wrangell
1990, Wrangell;  Haines

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