Daily Sitka Sentinel
There aren’t many easy games in Southeast this time of year and both the 11-1 Wolves and the 12-0 Lady Wolves were pushed by their opponents Thursday. Both answered the challenge. The Lady Wolves struggled a bit in the first half, but never trailed and beat a scrappy Haines team 56-40.
The Wolves also led wire-to-wire, but Metlakatla didn’t let Sitka get comfortable until the final few seconds. The Chiefs were tough, but never got the Sitka lead under 7 in the second half and the Wolves won 61-48. Senior Bae Widmier led the Sitka boys with 21 points and 12 rebounds as the athletic forward recorded another double-double. Sophomore Brian Way got 10 points in his first Region V tournament game, Devan Romine added 8, Mik Potrzuski had 7 and Jon De La Cruz and Hunter had 5 apiece.
Erik Hudson led Metlakatla with 15 points, most of which came on hard drives to the lane. Ethan Enright added 11 points for the Chiefs and Tristan Alexander had 8.
The Wolves battled foul trouble throughout the game, but coach Andy Lee said his squad showed toughness as they did what they had to do to win a physical game in front of a pro-Metlakatla crowd.
“We kind of got into a grind mode,” Lee said. “We’ve had to do that the last few weeks.”
The win by Sitka set up a championship game re-match with the Mt. Edgecumbe Braves. The Braves beat the Wolves three times in 2011 as they captured the Region V title. Now, the Wolves will look to turn the tables. The Wolves won tight games over Edgecumbe during the regular season and there was a sense in the days leading up to the tournament that they would meet again. When coach Lee told the Sentinel he was worried about “beating a team three times,” there was no question he was referring to the team from Japonski Island.
“The better team will win tomorrow,” Lee said shortly after the win over the Chiefs. “There’s no secrets now. They’re going to be disciplined and we’re going to be big.”
The Braves edged Haines 27-24 in a tight defensive struggle Thursday to earn a trip to their third straight Region V title game. (See story this page)
The Lady Wolves are also making a return trip to the Region V championship game, their fourth straight. The Lady Wolves fell to Craig last season and will face the Lady Panthers Friday in a rematch Friday. Craig knocked off Metlakatla 59-38 to earn a spot in the championship game.
“We’ll remind them (the Lady Wolves) of that tomorrow,” SHS coach Rich Krupa said Thursday night, when asked if his players were excited to get another shot at a Craig team that beat SHS in 2011. “Hopefully we can pay them back this year.”
Sitka got off to a quick start against Haines, jumping out to a 14-8 lead at the end of the first quarter. Sitka was up 20-10 in the second, but a Haines surge tied the game 23-23 before the half. Krupa said Haines made good defensive adjustments in the second quarter as they sagged down on Sitka’s post players Sariah Ady and Megan Reid. Sitka’s press also wasn’t particularly effective as Haines got to the basket and scored easy buckets to get back into the game.
“They had some players step up against,” Krupa said. “They got too much off of our press.”
A steal and a bucket by freshman Sidney Riggs put Sitka up 26-25 heading into the locker room. But even with the lead, Krupa was not happy to have given up 25 points in a half. The Lady Wolves pride themselves on their defense and try to hold teams to 40 points a game. What ever Krupa told this team at halftime, it seemed to work.
The Lady Wolves slowly but surely pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring Haines 17-8 in the frame. Leading 34-30, Sitka went on a 12-3 run to push their advantage into double digits, where it remained the rest of the way. Megan Reid had 17 points to lead Sitka, including 10 in the third as the Lady Wolves found their offensive rhythm. Haines had defended the post extremely well in the first half, but Reid, who had her coming out party at the 2011 Region V tournament, finally broke through in the third as she keyed the Sitka run. Sitka center Sariah Ady faced physical defense from Haines all game but ended up with 13 points.
“Sariah had a great second half,” Krupa said.
Riggs chipped in 9 points for Sitka in her first tournament game, Katina Wathen had 6 and Karly Fuller scored 5. Wathen was Sitka’s floor general all game, controlling the pace for the Lady Wolves and picking up at least 5 assists.
Haines got 12 from Amey Messerschmidt and 11 from Riley Erekson. Hannah Wing had 7.
The loss dropped Haines into the losers bracket, where they were set to face the MEHS Lady Braves at 11:15 p.m. Friday.