By SCOTT BOWLEN

Daily News Staff Writer

The Thunderbirds of Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School showed why they’re the defending state champions on Wednesday with a convincing 67-27 win against the Ketchikan High School Kings on Wednesday evening in Anchorage.

East Anchorage’s combination of size, speed and skill was deployed early and often, forcing a number of Kayhi turnovers while its offense attacked the basket en route to an 18-0 first quarter lead.

Kayhi;s first bucket came on a two-pointer by Zach Hanchey about 1:30 into the second quarter. The second period would prove to be the high mark for Kayhi’s offense Wednesday, with two baskets by JJ Parker, one bucket by Jared Rhoads, a 3-pointer by Josh Rhoads and two free throws by Clayton Olstad bringing the Kings second-half tally to 13. Still, the halftime break arrived with East Anchorage having extended its lead to 33-13.

The margin was 30 — 52-22 — after three quarters, and crested at 41 with about 1:40 left in the final period, prompting a running clock for the remainder of the game.

Kayhi didn’t quit, however. Despite facing heretofore unseen defensive pressure, the Kings had some moments on offense, led by 8 points by Parker.

Parker and Hanchey, in particular, brought some spark on defense, as well.

This past week, Kayhi Coach Eric Stockhausen had said that he has been scheduling early season matchups with the consistently strong East Anchorage program in recent years so the Kings have a the opportunity to play one of the state’s best teams in order to learn — win or lose.

in 2019, the Kings lost back-to-back early season games against the Thunderbirds by wide margins at this same point in the season before coming back as the No. 8 seed in the state tournament and defeating the top-seeded East Anchorage squad before besting Soldotna High School and then Dimond High School for the state championship title.

On Wednesday, the Kings got a glimpse of a long road ahead to another state title, with that road likely having to go through a high-quality East Anchorage team.

“This is a snapshot in time, ” Stockhausen said after Wednesday’s game, noting the strength of the East Anchorage team. “It showed us things that we need to improve on.”

“We came out a little shocked at the pace of the game and the intensity of what East was doing, and  we started to respond to it, so we did get better throughout the game,” he said.

Stockhausen voiced confidence in the Kings ability to play, and that the team knows that it has to get better.

“We have great kids we just have to, like in life, something unexpected, something  humbling occurs, how you respond to that  is more important than the event itself,” he said.  “So luckily, we have three games in a row (coming up) against really good competition that allows us to take steps in the right direction.”

What’s next?

The Kings are remaining in Anchorage to play in the O’Brady Invitational basketball tournament at South Anchorage High School.

Kayhi will start its participation in that three-day tournament at 4:30 p.m. Thursday with a game against the Anchorage Christian School Lions.

The game will available via livestream on the NFHS Network at www.nfhsnetwork.com.

Scoring Line

East Anchorage Thunderbirds: Demarion Delaney, 18; Daion Doughty, 16; Markeite Henry, 8; Kyler Johnson, 6; Deuce Zimmerman, 6; Mohammed Subally, 4.

Kayhi Kings: JJ Parker, 8; Clayton Olstad, 6; Josh Rhoads, 5; Archie Dundas, 3: Zach Hanchey, 2;   Andrew Kleinschmidt, 2; Jared Rhoads, 1.