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By SCOTT BOWLEN
Daily News Staff Writer
The Ketchikan High School Kings boys basketball team’s road trip to Juneau hit a speed bump in Petersburg on Thursday evening when the host Vikings upended the Kings 62-60 in a fast-paced endowment game at Petersburg High School.
The Petersburg win, courtesy of a late steal and subsequent buzzer-beating layup by senior Stewart Conn, keeps the 2A division Vikings undefeated for the 2016-17 season.
Thursday’s loss did not affect the Kings’ regular season record, which remained at 12-5 as they travel farther north for a two-game series that begins at 8 p.m. Friday against host Juneau-Douglas High School.
Teams can play two endowment games per season beyond the regular 22-game limit, according to the Alaska School Activities Association rules. Endowment games are fundraising events for the Alaska Endowment for Youth Activities, and “do not count in a team's overall season record for seeding purposes.”
The Kings were ferocious in the moving the ball up the court fast throughout Thursday’s game but struggled with offensive boards and getting back on defense while the Vikings’ own speedy transition game resulted in a number of easy inside baskets.
Foul trouble cost the Kings, as well. Freshman starter Chris Lee came out of the game for a breather with four fouls near the end of the third quarter. By the middle of the fourth quarter, Lee and seniors Shakim Bauer and Jake Smith each had four fouls. The Vikings were in a double-bonus situation even before Smith fouled out of the game with about two minutes remaining.
The game was close all the way through. The teams exchanged the lead several times in the first half, which ended with Kayhi up 32-31 on the strength of sophomore Marcus Lee’s 13 points and balanced scoring by Chris Lee, Jake Smith and Kyle Smith.
Kayhi managed to run up a seven-point lead at 46-39 midway through the third quarter before Petersburg made up some of that ground to get within three points, 52-49, as the quarter ended.
In the fourth, Petersburg took advantage at the free-throw line to pull ahead before Kayhi’s Brent Taylor hit the second of his two 3-pointers to give the Kings a 60-59 lead.
Petersburg’s Conn tied the game at 60-60 with a free throw. Ketchikan then brought the ball down the court but play was stopped by a 3-second violation call against the Kings with about 10 seconds remaining on the clock.
The referees discussed the call and overturned it, giving Kayhi the ball with an inbounds pass. The ball got to Marcus Lee before Conn came away with it and dribbled all the way to the Petersburg basket for the game-winning layup as time expired.
Marcus Lee led Kayhi’s scoring with 21 points. Jake Smith contributed 15, Chris Lee had 12, and Brent Taylor and Kyle Smith scored 6 points each.
Thursday’s results capped a rough seven days for the Kings, who had two difficult losses against division rival Thunder Mountain High School this past weekend in Juneau.
However, Kayhi had swept the Crimson Bears — 61-56 and 78-68 — during a two-game homestand in late January. Counting Juneau-Douglas’ early February losses to Thunder Mountain, the Crimson Bears’ division record now stands at 0-4, while their overall record is 10-7.
Kayhi head coach Eric Stockhausen said Thursday afternoon that the Kings were excited to play JDHS this weekend.
“Juneau is 0-4. To win two games up there and put them at 0-6 is a daunting task,” Stockhausen said. “... It's going to be tough — rarely do teams go to JD and get two. So we’re going to focus on the first one, and see what we can do on Saturday.”
Ketchikan has built its 2016-17 season around speed, moving the ball up the court quickly with the goal of scoring before defenses can get set up. While that strategy has proven effective overall, the team has devoted recent practice time on adding to its repertoire on both sides of the ball.
“We addressed some things on the offensive end that we need to add to what we're doing to give us more different looks,” Stockhausen said. “We got a little stagnant. Our initial push is good but after that, we don’t have a lot of complex action happening in the middle. Most of what we're doing is around the outside — like last week we ended up shooting half of our shots for threes.
“We’re looking to get more things going inside the paint and in that mid-range area, and so that was a focus of practice this week,” he said.
On the defensive side, Stockhausen noted that most end-of-season regional and state tournament games come down to half-court set plays and single possessions. As such, the Kings have focused practice time on half-court defense.
“Most good teams are breaking any press that they see, so it will come down to how we defend and rebound in the half court,” he said.
While Kayhi’s travel schedule this week is less arduous than this past weekend — which included a stop in Sitka to play an endowment game with Mt. Edgecumbe before heading to Juneau — the team has been dealing with some illness and minor injuries during the past few days.
Still, they’re in good spirits, said Stockhausen.
“We're excited,” he said. “We understand that even if we win the next four games, it doesn’t punch our ticket (to the state tournament), and even if we lose four, it doesn't exclude us from the regional tournament. So we’re just trying to get better, and we want to be crescendoing at the regional tournament.”
Kayhi’s games with Juneau-Douglas are scheduled to start at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The games will be broadcast on KGTW, and livestreamed at www.AlaskaSports.tv.
This story has been revised to note that Kayhi's overall regular season record was not affected by the result of Thursday's game with Petersburg, and to provide a description of endowment games.