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By SCOTT BOWLEN
Daily News Staff Writer
So close, but yet so far.
The Ketchikan High School Kings boys basketball team trailed the Falcons of Thunder Mountain High School by one point, 68-67, with less than 17 seconds on the clock Friday night at Thunder Mountain.
Kayhi sophomore Marcus Lee’s 15 points in the fourth quarter — and 26 points on the night — had kept the Kings in the fast-paced game. But Lee and the Kings could only watch as Thunder Mountain senior Chase Saviers hit another free throw to put the Falcons up, 69-67.
Seconds later, the Falcons' Noah Reishus-O’Brien missed a pair of free throws, but Thunder Mountain got the offensive rebound. Lee fouled Saviers, who made one of two free throws and raised the Falcons’ lead to 70-67 with about 2 seconds left.
The Kings inbounded the ball, quickly but turned it over. Thunder Mountain had just enough time to lob a fast pass to a unguarded player near the basket. It was an easy two points for a 72-67 Falcons win, as the game ended.
After the game, Kayhi head coach Eric Stockhausen noted that the Kings saw some things in the game that they hadn’t seen for the first 15 games of the season — including the significant early game absence of starters Chris Lee (foul trouble) and Shakim Bauer (injury).
He cited good play by Noah King and Randy Estrin off the bench during the starters' absence.
“I'm extremely proud of the efforts our kids gave,” Stockhausen said.
Both teams were well-matched in a contest that saw the squads pushing the ball up the floor at blistering speeds.
Kayhi senior Jake Smith opened Kayhi’s scoring with two 3-pointers, which were followed by a Marcus Lee layup to give the Kings an 8-2 lead midway through the first quarter.
Thunder Mountain’s Reishus-O’Brien scored 10 points during the quarter, however, as the Falcons clawed back to a 16-12 lead going into the second quarter.
Marcus Lee and Kayhi’s Brent Taylor traded off buckets to put the Kings up 19-18 early in the second quarter.
The lead was brief, though, as Thunder Mountain then managed to maintain a margin of between one and five points until Smith followed a Lee two-point jumper with a 3-point shot at the halftime buzzer to tie the game up at 30-30.
The contest then followed a pattern of Thunder Mountain taking a lead, with Kayhi coming back to tie it — first at 34-34, then at 40-40, and again at 46-46 before the third quarter ended with the Falcons up by two at 48-46.
A pair of Smith free throws tied it up again at 48-48 moments in to the fourth quarter. Thunder Mountain inched ahead again, only to have a Taylor 3-pointer even it up again at 51-51 with 5:45 remaining.
Ketchikan’s scorers then went quiet as Thunder Mountain built an eight-point lead. Then, with less than two minutes remaining, Marcus Lee made two free throws followed by a 3-pointer to narrow the margin to 65-61 in the Falcons' favor. A flurry of points by Lee and Taylor got the Kings within one point, 68-67, before the Falcons' Saviers stepped up to the free-throw line and the game slipped away.
“Our kids did a great job,” Stockhausen said. “They were down, but never out. … It was valuable experience for all of them.”
The exciting game sets up the potential for a great rematch when the two teams take the floor at 8 p.m. Saturday at Thunder Mountain.
Kayhi: Marcus Lee 26, Jake Smith 21, Brent Taylor 15, Chris Lee 5, Robert Seludo 2