The Kayhi Kings showed promise Thursday during their opening game of the season, getting within striking distance but ultimately falling 71-66 against the Colony High School Knights.

“I think the key from my perspective is we know it's the first game of the year — we knew we were not mid-season form at any facet of the game,” Kayhi coach Eric Stockhausen said after the game played during the first day of the Doc Larson Roundball Classic tournament at Wasilla High School. “And when we got down 13 or 14, we showed a lot of fight. I’m very proud of our kids.”

Kayhi was set on its heels early by a quick burst of Colony scoring that saw the Knights go ahead 7-0. But the Kings found some balanced scoring from Josh Rhoads, Clayton Olstad, JJ Parker and Andrew Kleinschmidt to claw back to within three points as the first quarter closed with Colony up 21-18.

Colony’s Jayce Underwood continued to vex the Kings in the second quarter, adding seven points in the frame to finish the first half with 14 points. Underwood would count another seven points in the third quarter and finished the game with 21 points.

Kayhi’s offense went quiet in the early minutes of the second quarter, but got a boost from freshman Marcus Stockhausen as the half wound down. Coming off the bench, Stockhausen hit three 3-pointers, including a very long shot launched just before the buzzer that sounded with Kings trailing 40-33.

Olstad bouyed the Kings in the third quarter with seven points, and would finish the game with a total of 19.

Still, Colony had extended its lead to 56-44 as the fourth quarter began. Then, Kayhi began to narrow the margin.

Rhoads hit an early 3-pointer. Joeben Lorenzo scored a bucket. Rhoads got a free throw, followed by a basket. Parker and Archie Dundas added points.

“I think we were down 13 in the fourth quarter — cut it to four,” Eric Stockhausen said. “Had a great look at it from the right shooter and the ball just didn't go in. Then it's a one-point game and then pressure's on them.”

With about 30 seconds left, Rhoads drained a 3-pointer to make it 71-66, and that was the end of Kayhi’s scoring. Rhoads finished the game with a total of 21 points.

Stockhausen was optimistic after the game, noting the positive aspects of Kayhi’s play, and acknowledging the areas that the Kings will be working to improve.

“I thought we did a lot of good things, and we made a few too many mistakes against a team like that. They're really good.”

Kayhi had some difficulty protecting the basket at times, leaving the door open for some easy Colony put-backs and layups. Colony shot about 52% on the game, compared to about 44% for Kayhi, according to Stockhausen.

“What I told the kids is we — especially in the first half — made a lot of defensive mistakes,” he said, adding that the Kings had focused on other things during the practice time that the team had before the season started Thursday.

“I made a decision on what we were going to work on and, you know, it's the give and take,” he said. “We did better on some things at the expense of some of our defensive issues tonight. And over time, it's all going to  balance out. The game is probably closer because of that decision, but it also, you know, nothing's all good, nothing's all bad, but we made a few less plays than they did. And, you know, that's a good team that, if we play them again, it probably will be another good game down the road.”

Coming up next for the Kings will be a game with Bartlett High School at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. Stockhausen noted that Bartlett is a fairly young team, with five freshmen on the varsity roster.

He noted that Thursday’s game was the first game for some of Kayhi’s players against a non-Southeast Alaska team in two years, if not the first ever at the high school level.

“Very proud of them. I thought we, we showed a lot of, heart and battling all the way to the end.” he said. “We gave ourselves a chance and that, as a coach, is all you can ask.”

Scoring line

Kayhi: Josh Rhoads, 21; Clayton Olstad, 19; JJ Parker, 10; Marcus Stockhausen, 9; Joeben Lorenzo, 7; Andrew Kleinschmidt, 2; Archie Dundas, 1.

Colony: Jayce Underwood, 21; Kash Luce, 15; Havery Pullen, 11; Cody Peterson, 9; Andrew Morgan, 5; Blake Dinkel, 5; Zach Daniel, 3.