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Kayhi girls to play at Thunder Mtn.: Lady Kings making first trip of 2018 to AK’s capital city
Kayhi’s Hannah Maxwell looks to make a move near the Kayhi basket on Friday in the first half as Sitka’s Tatum Bayne guards her. Photo by Hall Anderson

Daily News Sports Editor

The Ketchikan High School girls basketball team will begin what will be three consecutive weekends on the road on Friday when the Lady Kings take on the Thunder Mountain High School Lady Falcons.

It will be the first time this season in which the two schools have met on the hardwood, marking Kayhi’s first trip to Juneau in the process.

The Lady Kings will soon begin a span of six games in 10 days.

Kayhi head coach Kelly Smith said on Wednesday that he is happy his team seems to be at a healthier level than what it was at in recent weeks.

Morale for the Lady Kings has been at a consistent, almost untouchable level since the season began, and have they been an admittedly different unit than what Smith has ever been in charge of coaching.

“This team, when they’re up by 10 or down by 10, I can’t tell the difference,” Smith said. “In practice, they come in and they do their job.”

Smith said that practices run smoothly and that it is mostly business on the court during various drills.

This year’s Lady Kings do not joke around in practice, but they don’t take a drill sergeant approach to daily preparation either, according to their coach.

“They just play. I guess most successful people are even-keeled,” Smith said.

From a coaching perspective, Smith said this year’s team has been different to handle as well. Smith said that everyone on the team just seems to be “locked in” at the moment.

“It’s definitely different for me,” Smith said. “I think that I’ve had to adjust more than (the players) have had to adjust.”

After two-non conference wins against the 3A Sitka High School Lady Wolves last weekend, Kayhi will now take on a familiar opponent that it does not want to take for granted, despite its considerably lower initial winning percentage index ranking of 17 overall.

The Lady Kings received a No. 2-ranking in the first WPI poll released on Jan. 24.

Smith said that he thinks Thunder Mountain is developing into a quality basketball program, despite the current rebuilding process the Lady Falcons are going through.

“The one thing (I’ve noticed) from all the film I’ve watched is that they’re playing harder than they’ve ever played,” Smith said.

Thunder Mountain has implemented a full court defense for most situations this season, regardless of how much the Lady Falcons are winning or losing.

Smith said that in prior matchups with Thunder Mountain, a game would essentially be over once a 15 or 20-point lead was established, but that isn’t going to be the case this time around.

“Every game I’ve watched (Thunder Mountain) play, these girls scrap and fight until the end. That can be bothersome,” Smith said.

A season ago, Kayhi turned in an undefeated 4-0 regular season record against Thunder Mountain in its annual two-game, home-and-away conference series.

 Kayhi again beat TMHS two times in last season’s Region V Tournament en route to its fourth-consecutive region title.

In those six games, the Lady Kings outscored their opponents from Juneau by a margin of 212-93, while averaging 53 points per game scored as a team.

The Lady Kings and Lady Falcons will play on Friday and Saturday at the Thunder Mountain High School gymnasium.

Kayhi and TMHS will play in Ketchikan to finish regular season play on Feb. 23-24.