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By TAYLOR BALKOM
Daily News Staff Writer
The Ketchikan High School Lady Kings basketball team lost to the home squad in the first round of the Dimond Lady Lynx Prep Shootout gold tournament on Thursday, 70-34, in Anchorage.
Kayhi will play the Lathrop Malemutes — who swept the Lady Kings in a weekend series in late January — on Friday at 4:30 p.m on the consolation side of the tournament bracket.
Dimond led 9-0 in the first quarter before senior Kyra Welker scored the Lady Kings’ first basket.
Sophomore Ashley Huffine added a free throw in what would be a 3-point first quarter for Ketchikan.
The Lady Kings trailed 36-12 at halftime.
Despite the offensive struggles, Kayhi head girls basketball coach Kelly Smith said the team had a positive experience in the game.
“Tonight was the hardest our team has played this year,” Smith said. “Every kid played as hard as they could. (Dimond) is a very good team.”
“I’m happier with the effort tonight than I was in the win last night,” he continued.
Smith said the Lady Kings’ strategy in games where they’re outmatched — Dimond is ranked No. 2 in the state in the most recent Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches Poll — is to make their star players “uncomfortable,” which worked. Dimond’s leading scorer, sophomore Alissa Pili, picked up her third foul early in the second quarter and sat out much of the remainder of the half. Lady Lynx junior Jahnna Hajdukovich — who scored 30 points Wednesday night in Dimond’s game against Palmer, according to Smith — was a non-factor in the first half and ended up with 13 points total.
Smith praised Welker and junior Hannah Maxwell for limiting the output of Pili and Hajdukovich, respectively.
“Take away their comfort stuff and make somebody else beat you,” Smith said.
Unfortunately for the Lady Kings, the rest of Dimond’s team consistently hit their shots and kept the Lady Lynx’s lead at a comfortable level throughout the game.
But that didn’t damper Smith’s view on the game.
“Our kids represented and battled when they were outmatched at most positions,” he said. “It was fun. We got better today.”
The loss pits Ketchikan against familiar foe Lathrop on Friday afternoon. The Malemutes lost a close game with Colony, 49-45, on Thursday.
Smith said he hopes they can play fast and wear Lathrop out.
“We gotta get up and down the floor, we wanna make them run,” he said. “We gotta play with the intensity we did tonight and hit shots. If we can keep the effort going tomorrow, we’ll have a different result than we did a couple weeks ago.”
Ketchikan Lady Kings: Ashley Huffine 10, Brittany Slick 8, Payton Simmons 7, Kyra Welker 4, AJ Dela Cruz 2, Sarah McClennan 2, Hannah Maxwell 1.
Dimond Lady Lynx: Alissa Pili 23, Jahnna Hajdukovich 13, Meghen Jones 9, Seanne Bialo 9, Maya Carle 6, Victoria Johansen 6, Jalyn Osborne 2, Hayley Brink 2.