For the majority of the Ketchikan High School Kings’ roster, this past week was the first real taste of the Region V tournament.
Inside the confines of the First City’s rival — Juneau-Douglas High School — Ketchikan’s group of teenagers was handed a big bite of life on a basketball court in Southeast.
And although the end result wasn’t what the Kings had hoped for, as they fell 60-58 in overtime against Juneau-Douglas in the regional semifinal on Thursday, the growth of confidence in that 36-minute game gives promise for the future.
“We played 11 different guys, and I thought every one of them gave us something,” Ketchikan head coach Eric Stockhausen said. “And it bodes well for the future.”
Ketchikan juniors Tyler Slick and Josh Gentry both finished the regional semifinal with 12 points.
Freshmen Joeben Lorenzo and Albrim Zhuta also scored, in addition to the Kings’ senior trio — Chris Lee, Kristian Pihl and James Nordlund.
But the underclassmen carried the weight late.
Even after Lee had fouled out, and after Juneau-Douglas had taken a lead with three and a half minutes left in regulation, the Kings wouldn’t fall flat.
“When (Juneau) came back and took the lead, our kids could’ve laid down and they didn’t, and we extended the game,” Stockhausen said.
Although an overtime buzzer beater by Juneau-Douglas senior Cooper Kriegmont sent the Crimson Bears onto the regional championship against Thunder Mountain High School. The top-ranked Falcons would win that matchup, 41-38.
“It’s tough to lose close ones,” Stockhausen said of the semifinal game. “But it is great to see that most of our kids played their best game.”
The Kings finished the season 14-11 (12-11, officially as two games were endowment contests). Although three of those losses came in the final three seconds, and a fourth — the regional semifinal — came in the final moments of overtime.
“We were competitive,” Stockhausen said.
But the competitive nature within the Kings made the ending of the season difficult to swallow.
“I think for the most part they took it pretty hard,” Stockhausen said. “I think most of our kids put their heart and soul into it. … I think our guys really were empathetic to each other, and I thought they spent a lot of time just making sure each one was OK. And that’s a sign of a good kid … I thought we handled it the best we could.”
The Kings will graduate Lee, Pihl and Nordlund this spring, and return the majority of this season’s roster.