Since stepping foot on the court on Monday, both the Ketchikan High School boys’ and girls’ basketball programs have had encouraging practices.
After jumping into the abbreviated basketball season with a four-game trip to Juneau last week, the Kings (1-3) and Lady Kings (3-1) have been able to catch their breath — at least a little bit — before hosting Sitka High School this weekend.
Four days of practice can give more time to focus on details.
The Sitka Wolves and Lady Wolves are in town for a pair of games scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Tipoff for the Kings’ game is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. Friday. The Lady Kings will play at 7:15 p.m. Game times will switch on Saturday.
“We really have had great practices,” Kings’ head coach Eric Stockhausen said. “The kids came in focused — very talkative, really open to the new things we were doing. ... I think we know each other better after the bonding that happened in the hotel (in Juneau), versus being housed out in a normal year.”
Indeed, playing basketball amid the novel coronavirus pandemic means staying in hotels, instead of other homes, while in opposing communities, just like Sitka will do here.
But getting a chance to play against an opponent puts a little pep in Kayhi’s step.
“(The girls) played hard (in Juneau), which is the first battle,” Lady Kings’ head coach Kelly Smith said of his squad. “If you’re playing hard, good things are going to happen. I just thought it was exciting to kind of get a glimpse of what can be. We’re not taking anything for granted. (These) could be our last games of the year. So we’re going to make the most of it.”
The Lady Wolves are expected to be a senior-heavy squad, similar to Sitka’s volleyball team. Many of the girls on the basketball team played volleyball.
“I think they (would’ve been) favored to win a 3A (volleyball) state title,” Smith said. “And I remember watching them, thinking, ‘Man, they have some good size.’”
Likewise, Sitka’s boys’ squad has size, too.
“They have a 6’2” rebounder, who is a guy who just works,” Stockhausen said. “(He has a) relentless motor.”
The Sitka Wolves also have players listed at 6’4” and 6’5”, although not everyone on the team made the trip.
The Kings started the season last week with three different players reaching the 20-point plateau on three different nights.
Kayhi’s Josh Rhoads scored 20 points on Jan. 20 — a 54-52 loss to Thunder Mountain High School in the season opener.
The Kings’ Clayton Olstad and Tyler Slick followed suit, scoring 23 points apiece on consecutive nights.
Olstad did his damage during a 61-33 victory over Thunder Mountain on Jan. 21. Slick scored his 23 on Jan. 22 — a 68-66 loss to Juneau-Douglas High School.
Slick leads the Kings with 49 points through four games, averaging 12.3 points per contest.
JJ Parker nearly matched his teammates on Jan. 23, finishing a game against Juneau-Douglas with 17 points. But Parker’s performance gave the Kings four different scorers who have hit double digits in four games.
Game time switch-a-roo
Tip off for the Lady Kings’ varsity matchup against the Lady Wolves has been moved to the prime time slot, at 7:15 p.m. on Friday. The varsity Kings will take the court at 5:45 p.m. on Friday.
Game times for Saturday will flip, with the varsity Lady Kings playing at 5:45 p.m., and the Kings tipping off at 7:15 p.m.
Junior varsity games will change, as well, on Friday. The JV Kings will start the action at 3:15 p.m. Friday, with the JV Lady Kings playing at 4:30 p.m. Games times will switch on Saturday, with the JV Lady Kings at 3:15 p.m. and JV Kings at 4:30 p.m.
Tickets required to enter
Only those with a pre-arranged tickets will be allowed into Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium this weekend. Each participant within the boys’ and girls’ basketball programs, Kayhi cheerleading squad and K-Highlites dance team was allowed two tickets to give out, in order to keep the number of spectators inside the gymnasium to a manageable level for social distancing.
There will be temperature checks and health questionnaires to answer when spectators enter through the front door at Kayhi, and appropriate face coverings must be worn while inside the building.
Concessions won’t be available, but there will be vending machines.
Games will be broadcast
Both the girls’ and boys’ games will be livestreamed on kgbsd.org/live, and will be on KTKN radio.