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By A.J. JANKOWSKI
Daily News Sports Editor
The Ketchikan High School girls basketball team was a halfway-down 3-point attempt away from erasing a shooting slump that spanned the first three quarters of Friday’s game against Juneau-Douglas.
But Jayley Taylor — who returned from an ankle sprain to score a team-high 16 points — and the rest of the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium watched with bated breath as her corner 3 hit the front of the rim and then the back of the rim before bouncing out.
“I honestly thought that ball was going in,” said Juneau-Douglas head coach Dee Boster, whose team held on for the 45-43 victory. “Jayley had a wide-open shot — a good look. Any other night, that ball is going through the hoop.”
Kayhi inbounded the ball down by two with 7.3 seconds left, when, according to head coach Kelly Smith, the Lady Kings drew a play to get the ball to Bayley Lindgren on a slip toward the basket.
However, Smith said, Kayhi held onto the ball too long early in the possession, and all that was open was Taylor in the right corner.
“I knew they would follow Jayley,” he said. “We caught it, and we ran the first part (of the play), but then we stopped and wasted like three seconds.”
Even if it wasn’t the designed play, the Lady Kings got an open look for their leading scorer, Taylor, who had hit four 3s earlier in the game.
“She doesn’t have the ability to be as aggressive as she can be,” said Smith of Taylor, who missed the last three games with the ankle injury. “But she’s a warrior. She played 32 minutes tonight and gave us everything she had.”
According to Smith, it wasn’t the missed shot at the end that caused Kayhi to lose. It was the 22 percent it shot from the floor through three quarters, and absence of urgency, he said, that dropped his team to 4-3 in Southeast play.
“That shot had nothing to do with it,” he said. “It was the lack of intensity and effort for the first two and a half quarters.”
The Lady Kings entered the fourth quarter trailing 37-27, before Smith inserted freshman Alexis Biggerstaff into the game, who provided instant offense and sparked a quick 11-2 run to pull her team within one.
“She’s an athletic kid — you don’t realize it at first,” said Smith of Biggerstaff, who finished with eight points — all in the fourth. “I wish I would have had her for four quarters, but she played four in the JV game. Tomorrow, she’s not playing four in the JV.”
Trailing by one but with momentum, Kayhi forced a Juneau-Douglas turnover, but with Lindgren trapped on the baseline with nowhere to turn, she turned the ball back over to the Crimson Bears with 3:37 to play.
Smith said he would have called a timeout to keep possession, but only had two left in a one-score game.
“You could say ‘Call a timeout in that situation,’” he said. “But then we’d be down to one, and maybe we don’t get a chance to get the shot we got at the end of the game.”
Juneau-Douglas made Kayhi pay, as it went down low to post player Gabi Fenumiai, who scored two of her game-high 17 points, and was fouled on the play.
Fenumiai is taller than any of the Lady Kings by at least two inches, and used it to her advantage by drawing contact while still making buckets.
“She’s pretty amazing,”?Boster said. “She’s just so strong, and she’s a very coachable kid, so it’s fun to coach her. She was definitely a factor offensively as well as defensively tonight.”
Kayhi tied the game with two minutes remaining, when Taylor hit her fourth 3-pointer from the right corner.
“Hats off to Ketchikan,” Boster said. “They picked up the defense, and we weren’t ready for it. Obviously with us winning by two, I can say it was a good game.”
Fenumiai responded by going 1-of-2 from the line, but the Lady Kings took their only lead of the game when Biggerstaff put them ahead 43-42 with a little more than one minute remaining.
Rachelle Roldan hit two free throws for the Crimson Bears, and then stripped Biggerstaff on the ensuing possession. With 11.3 left, Kayhi fouled Marissa Brakes, who made one free throw, which turned out to be the final point of the game.
“Thankfully, our kids were able to calm down when we needed it most,” said Boster, whose team improved to 4-1 in Southeast. “If they would have made that shot, they would have deserved to win 100 percent.”
Taylor scored her 16 points on four 3s, one field goal and 2-of-3 from the foul line. Biggerstaff’s eight was good for second on the team, and Brooke Simmons and Bayley Lindgren each scored seven.
Kayhi was 8-of-36 from the field through three quarters, but went 7-of-12 from the floor in the final quarter, as it outscored the Crimson Bears 16-8.
“That was a great comeback by those girls that were on the floor,” Smith said. “We didn’t want to shoot it (early in the game). If you shoot it only because I’m telling you to, how are you going to shoot with any consistency or confidence?
“We don’t catch and know we want to shoot the basketball. That’s where we’ve got to be if we want to reach our goals.”
The two teams play again Saturday at 7:15 p.m. on Kayhi’s Senior Night.
Smith said he’ll start the seniors along with Taylor because “that’s what you do.
“After that it’s wide open,” he said. “I need people that are ready to go all the time.”
Juneau-Douglas led 22-19 at halftime, as the Lady Kings turned the ball over just three times, but made only five field goals compared to J-D’s nine.
After Simmons brought Kayhi to within three early in the third, 24-21, the Crimson Bears went on a 10-0 run to achieve its largest lead of the game, 34-21.
“I’m not a moral-victory person,” Smith said. “I’m very proud of those girls that finished the game. But if you show up and do your job for four quarters, we’re not in that situation.”
NOTE:?The Kayhi JV team defeated J-D’s JV squad, 48-19. The two teams play again Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Juneau-Douglas 45, Ketchikan 43
J — Gabi Fenumiai 17 points, Esra Siddeek 7, Kymberlee Kelly 6, Marissa Brakes 4, Amberli Fitka 3, Kayla Balovich 2, Kaitlin Fagerstrom 2, Emily Winters 2; K — Jayley Taylor 16, Alexis Biggerstaff 8, Brooke Simmons 7, Bayley Lindgren 7, Eliah Anderson 3, Faith Clark 2.