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By SPENCER GLEASON
Daily News Sports Editor
In his 11 years of coaching basketball at Ketchikan High School, Eric Stockhausen has seen days when his team practices before the day of a game and looks as strong as ever, only to drop a dud against its opponent the next day.
And he’s seen days when his Kings practice the day before a game and look lethargic, only to light up the scoreboard on game day and claim victory.
On the latter, he’s hoping Thursday is one of those days.
“Today, I thought, was unfortunately one of our least inspired practices,” Stockhausen said on Thursday. “(We’ve had) a lot of joy and happiness at practices. Today wasn’t that day. It was pretty somber.”
A lot can be said why Thursday’s practice was lackluster. But the weather might be at the top of the list.
Kayhi was forced to cancel after-school activities on Wednesday due to inclement weather, and several inches of snow. And Thursday was a late start, due to the same road conditions near the high school.
“You get to sleep in until 9 a.m., and your classes aren’t normal,” Stockhausen said. “It’s not a normal day. So it makes sense in some ways. But we’re trying to get better every day, and I thought today we weren’t as focused as we needed to be. So that makes me a little nervous.”
The Kings won’t have much time to dwell on Thursday’s struggles, and will have to kick it into another gear on Friday when they travel to Thunder Mountain High School to face the Falcons. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.
“It’ll be a challenge,” Stockhausen said. “(Thunder Mountain) plays on emotion a lot of times. So once something gets going for them, it really gets going. And we’ve seen both ends up there. We’ve held them to eight points in a half, and seen them score 58 points in a half on back-to-back nights. I mean, you don’t know what you’re going to get. So we have to come out and dictate defensively.”
The game holds merit, with the top seed on the line for regional tournament in March. With four conference games left — all against Thunder Mountain — the Kings will have to be at the top of their game.
In addition to four games against Kayhi, the Falcons have two more matchups against Juneau-Douglas High School. Kayhi will host Thunder Mountain on Feb. 22-23.
“With three teams (in the Southeast Conference the No. 1 seed) doesn’t always matter,” Stockhausen said. “You play one less game, but it’s good to watch those two beat up on each other. But for us, if we can get two (at Thunder Mountain), and be sitting at 5-1 in the conference and them 1-3 with two games to go at home, we’d probably take that.”
The Falcons have a trio of players Stockhausen has keyed the Kings defense around, in Thunder Mountain’s Bryson Echiverri, Brady Carandang and Puna Toutaiolepo.
“Bryson averages about 20 points a game,” Stockhausen said. “He’s a crafty guard (who’s) quick. He can score a number of ways. He’ll be a challenge for our guys. (But) if we play good team defense on penetration we’ll be fine.
“Brady has deep range, and once he gets going he’s pretty good,” he continued. “And Puna is the heart and soul of that team. The kid has single-handedly beat us in the past, on rebounds and shooting threes. He’s a tough kid.”
But the Falcons will have to keep their eye on the Kings.
“I like my team,” Stockhausen said. “I like every kid that plays for us. I like their effort, their focus. Our kids are incredibly intelligent when it comes to the game. They know what they’re good at; they know what they need to do to help the team. And they understand that we need everybody, top to bottom — because we can’t do it with less than everybody.”
The past weekend against Juneau-Douglas, every King on roster chipped in. Kayhi scored 94 points on Feb. 1, beating the Crimson Bears 94-54. They nearly matched that total on Saturday, winning 85-65.
Between the two victories, 13 different Kings scored. And every one on roster recorded minutes.
Kayhi will have to keep the ball rolling for the second straight weekend against a conference opponent.
“It’s a great group of kids; it’s a tight group of kids,” Stockhausen said. “I think they’ll find a way.”