Before the Ketchikan High School Lady Kings took the floor on Tuesday for their Region V tournament opening round matchup against the Thunder Mountain High School Lady Falcons, Ketchikan head coach Kelly Smith huddled his squad together on the bench for one final pep talk.
He reminded them to breathe — in through their nose, out through their mouth — and not to expend their energy.
"The game's not going to be won or lost in the first three minutes," he could be heard saying. "But let's not dig ourselves a hole."
Ketchikan didn't dig itself a hole.
And he was right about the "three minutes" remark. A game's not 180 seconds long.
But it took all of two minutes, 59 seconds in the opening quarter for the Lady Kings to jump out to a lead against Thunder Mountain at Juneau-Douglas High School, briefly lose the lead, and regain it back.
And from then on, the Lady Kings kept the ball rolling.
Lianne Guevarra drained a 3-pointer along the baseline with 5:01 on the clock in the first quarter, giving Ketchikan a 6-4 edge. And the Lady Kings stayed in front the rest of the way, cruising to a 41-21 win over Thunder Mountain.
The victory bumps the No. 2 Lady Kings into a regional semifinal against the top seeded Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Guevarra's 3-pointer was one of three threes sunk by the Lady Kings' senior leader.
In fact, all three seniors hit threes in the game, as Nadire Zhuta knocked one down early in the second quarter, and Madison Rose did the same two minutes later.
Ketchikan carried an 18-11 lead into the half, and outscored Thunder Mountain 23-10 the rest of the way.
Guevarra and sophomore Jenae Rhoads combined for 14 of the Lady Kings' final 23 points.
Rhoads finished the day with 12 points; Guevarra had 11 in the game. The Lady Kings rattled off a 12-2 run in the final 6:20 of the third quarter.
Guevarra knocked in the first five points of that run, including her second three. Rhoads and Shaelyn Mendoza combined for the other tallies.
Thunder Mountain's only shot in that span came from the hands of Falcons' sophomore Riley Traxler.
Traxler led Thunder Mountain with 12 points, and was responsible for eight of the Falcons' 10 second-half tallies.
Thunder Mountain junior Avery Kriescher scored the Falcons' other two points in the half.
Juneau-Douglas won three of the four meetings against the Lady Kings this season. But in three of the matchups, the Lady Kings had late leads. There was an average difference of 6.8 points per game.
The two teams lock up at 6:30 p.m. in the Region V 4A semifinal.
Ketchikan: Jenae Rhoads 12, Lianne Guevarra 11, Shaelyn Mendoza 6, Nadire Zhuta 5, Madison Rose 3, Hya Bondoc 2, Lindsay Byron 2.
Thunder Mountain: Riley Traxler 12, Mary Khaye Garcia 2, Samantha Dilly 2, Avery Kriescher 2, Letasi Fenumiai 2.