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By A.J. JANKOWSKI
Daily News Sports Editor
Ketchikan High School head boys basketball coach Eric Stockhausen said his team practiced offense just 10 minutes out of the two weeks of practice prior to Friday’s season-opening game against Petersburg. The rest, he said, was spent on defense.
For most of the game, it showed on both ends.
On a night Kayhi struggled shooting the ball early, it let its defense do the talking, limiting Petersburg to just one field goal in the first half. Midway through the third quarter, the shots started falling, and helped the Kings open their season by beating the visiting Vikings, 46-33.
"At halftime, I told our guys I realized we probably should have spent more than 10 minutes (on offense)," Stockhausen said. "But what we did care about, we did very well."
Kayhi (1-0) got a team-high 11 points from senior Kable Lervick and nine from Craig transfer Malik Almenzor, including five straight points to spark a 9-0 run to end the third quarter.
The Kings led comfortably for most of the game despite struggling from the floor, and took a 17-9 lead into halftime. But Petersburg (0-1) opened the second half on a 5-0 run to slim the advantage. Tristan Welton converted on a layup while fouled by Kayhi’s Riley Gass. Welton hit the free throw, making it a one-possession game.
Colton Paulsen responded by knocking down the Kings’ second 3-pointer of the game to push their advantage to 20-14. Paulsen, a junior, finished with seven points.
But Petersburg started to find its 6-foot-3 center Colby Bell, who hit a pair of layups to pull the Vikings within two.
That’s when the Kings stopped settling for 3-point attempts and started getting to the rim. Almenzor made a pair of layups, as did Lervick, including a buzzer-beating bank shot off the feed from Alex Pihl as the third quarter ended.
"Malik did fantastic," Stockhausen said. "He did a great job."
Six different Kings scored in fourth, as Kayhi put the game away on a layup by Erwin Manalaban and a pair of free throws by Isaiah Navales. Nine Kings total registered at least one point in the game, and 12 players saw the floor.
"I’m really proud of the guys," Stockhausen said. "I mean, what a great learning situation for us."
Kayhi had a chance to break the game open in the second quarter, but failed to knock down open looks from beyond the arc. The Kings shot 1-of-7 on 3-pointers in the second quarter, with Lervick’s make putting Kayhi up 15-6. After a free throw by Petersburg’s Kayin McCay, Navales found Almenzor cutting to the rim and the Kayhi newcomer converted to put the Kings up 17-8.
Almenzor showed an ability to get to the rim from the get-go, taking his first touch straight to the hole and earning a trip to the free-throw line.
Kayhi more than made up for its offensive deficiencies in the first half by playing aggressive defense. The Vikings made just one field goal in the first half — a jumper by Daniel Loucks late in the first quarter. Petersburg stayed in the game by getting to the free-throw line, converting 10 first-half fouls by the Kings into seven points on 7-of-12 shooting from the charity stripe.
The Kings shot eight free throws in the first half, making four.
Kayhi played the game without returning starter Brien Auger, who missed the game with an ankle injury.
"He’s a tough kid, and he wants to play," Stockhausen said. "But right now, it didn’t make any sense."
Friday’s game against Petersburg was an endowment game, and does not count toward Kayhi’s record.
The games will start counting Thursday, when the Kings travel to Service to play in the 33rd annual Cougar Tip Off Tournament.