After absorbing an early scoring punch from Nelson Island, the Klawock boys basketball team fought back to oust the defending state champions, earning a 59-51 win in the consolation bracket of the 1A ASAA/First National Bank Alaska State Championships on Friday.
Nelson Island scored the first nine points of the game, pushing the pace and scoring in transition, causing Klawock coach Trae Don Marvin to spend an early time out to talk to his team.
“I just told them to keep calm and try to get the ball inside,” Marvin said. “We were shooting on all of our first looks.”
The talk worked as Klawock slowed down Nelson Island’s transition game, and starting working more patiently on offense.
Klawock still trailed 19-10 late in the first quarter before turning the game around with an 11-0 run. An offensive rebound and put-back basket from Dalton Skan finished off the run and gave the Chieftains their first lead of the game, 21-19, midway through the second quarter.
The Chieftains took a 28-26 lead into halftime and never trailed in the second half, but Nelson Island was within two points before Connor Bagby drained his third 3-pointer of the game to push Klawock’s lead to 41-36.
The Chieftains went 12 of 14 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter to thwart any chance Nelson Island had of getting back into the game.
“They went on a couple of offensive runs during the game, but the guys kept calm,” Marvin said. “We watched their game yesterday and we knew they were wanting to try to outrun us. We talked a lot on defense and we did a good job rebounding. That was a big part of winning the game. Rebounding was key; we were a lot bigger than them.”
Marley Kness led the Chieftains with 20 points. The junior sharpshooter had an off-night shooting the ball from outside, going 0 for 9 from 3-point range, but he scored and drew fouls driving in the paint. Kness finished 10 of 14 from the free-throw line.
“Marley’s shot wasn’t falling, but he was working inside to score, and we had some of the young guys, and (senior Emett Fairbanks) step up and hit a couple of 3s,” Marvin said.
Bagby hit three 3-pointers and finished with 15 points. Fairbanks sank both of his 3-point attempts and finished with nine. Kness grabbed 16 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. Fairbanks added 10 rebounds and Bagby grabbed eight boards.
Klawock plays Buckland at 9:30 a.m. Saturday for the consolation championship. Buckland beat Shaktoolik 76-74 in Friday’s other consolation semifinal.
“We just want to keep winning games and close out the season on a positive note,” Marvin said.