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By MATT ARMSTRONG
Daily News Staff Writer
Two of the top-ranked high school basketball teams in the state will begin a two-game series Friday night in Juneau, as the Ketchikan High School Kings take on the Thunder Mountain Falcons.
Kayhi’s last series was a late-January sweep of the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears, and the almost two weeks off came at a good time for the Kings, according to head coach Eric Stockhausen.
“Two weeks ago we had some sickness and kids missing practice,” Stockhausen said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “We don’t normally have a weekend off in the middle of the year, but it turned out to be a blessing. ... Physically, we should be well-rested. We should be eager to play again. ... We’re 100 percent now for the first time in a while. We’re excited.”
Kayhi is taking an unusual route to Juneau, as the varsity team flew to Sitka on Thursday to meet up with the junior varsity and C squads, which were already there and had played games against the Mt. Edgecumbe Braves.
The varsity team was scheduled to arrive in Sitka Thursday evening and go straight to Mt. Edgecumbe to play an endowment game, which doesn’t count for either Kayhi’s season record or its Alaska School Activities Association Winning Percentage Index standing. The Kings are scheduled to take the 6 a.m. Friday flight from Sitka to Juneau and wait around for more than 12 hours until Friday night’s game, according to Stockhausen.
“If our kids can focus, we’re going to be just fine,” Stockhausen said. “We don’t have any options, we just have to.”
Friday’s game will be the second time Kayhi and Thunder Mountain have crossed paths this season. The Kings beat the Falcons 74-63 during the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic basketball tournament held in the First City.
“They were missing guys,” Stockhausen said of the Dec. 29 game. “Some of us were able to watch the Juneau-Douglas-Thunder Mountain game (streaming) this past weekend. We’re very aware of what they do. We spend a majority of our time just getting better at the things we do.”
One of the areas the Kings have put in extra practice time over the past couple weeks has been shooting.
“That will be the key for us,” Stockhausen said. “Keep fresh legs and give ourselves the chance to hit shots.”
ASAA released its latest WPI standings on Wednesday, putting Kayhi’s record at 12-3 and Thunder Mountain’s record at 8-4. Most state berths are determined by regional tournaments, but if the state basketball tournament was held based on those standings, Kayhi would be the No. 4 seed and Thunder Mountain would be the No. 6 seed.
“These are huge conference games, huge WPI games,” Stockhausen said. “We’re hoping to put our best foot forward. ... (Thunder Mountain) plays Lathrop tonight, and Thunder Mountain’s currently on a seven-game win streak, we’re currently on a six-game win streak. It should be competitive, good Southeast (Conference) basketball.”
The Kayhi-Thunder Mountain games are scheduled for 8 p.m. starts on Friday and Saturday. KTKN will be broadcasting the games.