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By JOE JUDD
Daily News Sports Editor
METLAKATLA — The Ketchikan High School boys varsity basketball team defeated the Metlakatla High School Chiefs 63-51 on Wednesday night at the Metlakatla High School Gymnasium.
It was the first road game of the season for Kayhi, and also the first time in two seasons since the Kings made the trip to neighboring Metlakatla.
Kayhi head coach Eric Stockhausen said he thinks his team has been consistently improved since the Kings opened their season on Dec. 15.
“We did a better job of being balanced. We shared the ball very well,” Stockhausen said. “We did the things that we need to improve on, and I feel very good about how the kids played.”
The game began with the Chiefs taking charge on offense, converting most of their scoring opportunities through the early portion of the competition.
With a clear home-court advantage to its credit, Metlakatla constantly fed off the local supporters in the packed MHS gym, jumping out to a 14-13 lead after one quarter.
At times early on, it looked as if Kayhi was out of sync on offense, as the Kings committed eight first-half turnovers.
Despite somewhat of a sluggish first half, the Kings turned things around in the second and were able to hold the lead until the very end.
Stockhausen said he thinks his team is right where he wants them to be at this point in the young season.
After starting the season with a slew of marquee opponents, Stockhausen said he can see his players regularly come together, even if they expect the positive results to come quicker and in more abundance.
“We’re improving in huge amounts on a daily basis,” Stockhausen said. “All of my guys can play.”
The Kayhi coach said his players are getting better at recognizing their respective roles on the team.
Stockhausen added that he thinks his bench has come into form during that previous couple of contests.
“That’s maybe the biggest thing for me,” Stockhausen said. “Our bench (players) are more supportive than they were in games one through six. We’re able to see the growth, and that’s exciting.”
Kayhi was quick to respond after the rough start Wednesday, matching Metlakatla’s intensity — even with far less fan support than what the Kings typically experience at the Clarke Cochrane Gym.
By the end of the third quarter, Kayhi had a 51-43 lead over their opponent.
The fourth and final quarter was filled with momentum swings but no lead changes like those seen in the first half.
With a 10-point lead secured, Kayhi did its best to play keep-away from Metlakatla, eventually running out the clock to earn the win.
Kayhi juniors Marcus Lee and Kristian Pihl paved the way with 22 points and 15 points, respectively, on offense. All of Pihl’s scoring came from 3-point range. Lee went seven for seven from the free-throw line.
Fellow Kayhi junior Cody Kemble continued his hot shooting from beyond the arc, sinking a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter en route to a 10-point game.
Metlakatla senior Danny Marsden led the Chiefs in scoring with 21 points. Fourteen of those points came in a third quarter that saw the Chiefs put up a game-high 19 points.
Junior Conrad Hudson finished his night just behind Marsden with 16 points overall.
Stockhausen said that both he and his team were very appreciative of the hosting community.
“To come over (to Metlakatla) is a great experience,” Stockhausen said. “It’s not something we always get to do, but we hope to be able to do it more. We get treated so well.”
Stockhausen said that he thinks Metlakatla has a good shot at winning the 2A state title when spring begins.
“That Metlakatla team is very good. Most 2A (teams) don’t have five or six really good players, and they do,” Stockhausen said.
Metlakatla head coach Tony Scott said after the game that he was proud of the resolve his team displayed in the loss.
He complimented the Chiefs’ positive attitudes and their willingness to not give in, regardless of what the scoreboard said at any given moment.
“To have our kids bury themselves a couple times and then fight and claw back into the game against a really good basketball team, it showed a lot of heart,” Scott said.
Scott said he was happy to finally see a Kayhi team make the short trip to play his team and added that he would like to see it happen more often when possible.
“It’s great for these two communities to come together and get this game going again,” Scott said. “Anybody that watched this game had to enjoy it.”
Kayhi will next play against Bartlett High School to begin the South Anchorage Tournament on Jan. 19.
Kayhi: Marcus Lee 22, Kristian Pihl 15, Chris Lee 11, Cody Kemble 10, Wyatt Barajas 3, Gavin Salazar 2.
Metlakatla: Danny Marsden 21, Conrad Hudson 16, Desmond King 7, Tyler Henderson 5, Christian Hayward 2.
METLAKATLA 51, KAYHI 47
Offense was at a premium in the Kayhi junior varsity team’s 51-47 loss to the Metlakatla Chiefs.
Opening in a defensive stalemate, the first basket of the game was not scored until Kayhi launched the scoring at the 3:51-mark.
From there, the tempo on both sides picked up along with the scoring, as the game evolved into a low-scoring, back-and-forth battle.
It was a battle that took until the game’s final seconds to determine a winner, with the possession arrow holding all the significance.
The Chiefs were able to sink some clutch shots late in the game and respond quickly on defense to gain a two-possession lead over the Kings.
With only a few minutes left of the clock, it was a matter of converting the free throws when Kayhi was in foul mode.
Metlakatla did not fail; the Chiefs put the game just out of Kayhi’s reach with only seconds left on the clock.
It was the first time this season in which a Metlakatla team has defeated a Kayhi team.
Kayhi 57, Metlakatla 29
Kayhi’s C boys basketball team began Thursday evening with a 57-29 win against the Chiefs.
The Kings and Chiefs started the game exchanging points, seemingly going basket-for-basket in a tight opening quarter.
By the time the first half of play started to wind down, it was Kayhi who had firm control of the lead with a 40-20 advantage over its Southeast Alaska neighbors.
With both teams back on the court for the second half, it was Metlakatla’s offense that started with the upper hand by scoring a pair of baskets to open the third quarter.
Kayhi remained in control, however, as the Kings continued to pass the ball and facilitate their scoring opportunities with relative ease en route to the win.
Kayhi: Besjean Kamberi 11, Seth James 10, Kylar Charles 8, Tyler Slick 8, Josh Gentry 8, John Bernardo 6, Jonathan Nakarak 4, Patrick Garcia 2.
Metlakatla: Brady Milne 11, Elijah Caspersen 6, Navin Valley 5, Tobin Buxton 3, Travis Marsden 2, Marvin Buxton 2