Kelly Smith had said it once — and he said it again.
Attitudes are contagious.
“We talked about (that, and) is your’s worth catching?” he said about the Lady Kings’ shootaround earlier on Saturday.
The Ketchikan High School head coach was frustrated with how Friday night’s game against the Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears had gone.
The Lady Kings had struggled to find a rhythm for three quarters, before clawing their way back and grabbing ahold of a lead in the final seconds of Friday’s contest at Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.
But even after all of that, the Crimson Bears found their way to the foul line twice with less than five seconds left — and they hit all four shots — escaping with a 41-38 win over Ketchikan on Friday.
“They were frustrated,” Smith said of the emotions during Saturday’s shootaround. “They know that we didn’t play very well (on Friday) for three quarters.”
So when the Lady Kings entered Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium on Saturday evening — for the final time this season — Smith and his squad used that frustration to fuel the fire.
“Our intensity level for the entire game was a lot different,” Smith said. “We played with a nice intensity level (on Friday) in the fourth quarter, but we decided to play with it the entire night (tonight). ... They were ready.”
Indeed, the Lady Kings were ready. Because in 32 minutes of high school basketball, they allowed their longtime rivals from the north to have a lead for only 15 seconds.
That short stint came late in the first quarter — a measly 7-6 score — which Ketchikan quickly turned around into its favor, 8-7.
And the Lady Kings eventually won 44-37.
“We won a basketball game, but we still did a lot of silly things,” Smith said. “We had a 12-point lead, and then we gave them some open looks. ... (We) dribbled off our foot a couple times. ... We could’ve made that a lot easier on ourselves.
“But to (Juneau’s) credit, they kept working and getting some shots,” he continued.
Juneau-Douglas’ Sadie Tuckwood and Kiana Potter combined for five 3-pointers, as the duo finished with 22 points. Tuckwood had 12; Potter scored 10.
“Juneau made us pay every time we broke down in a (defensive) rotation tonight,” Smith said. “The first half, Sadie gets two threes out of it. (In the second half) Kiana hit two. Sadie hit one (more) in the corner. That was all off the defensive rotation. So we got to work on that stuff.”
But what it took two Crimson Bears to do — in scoring 22 points — it only took one Lady King to accomplish.
Lianne Guevarra made the most of her final game at Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium — as the evening was deemed senior night.
And the Lady Kings’ senior guard was Ketchikan’s only player to score in every quarter, finishing the game with half of the Lady Kings’ 44 tallies.
Guevarra hit a layup giving Ketchikan that 8-7 lead, and she and her teammates never looked back.
“Lianne got us rolling early,” Smith said.
Her performance on the court was in direct relation to the importance of the night.
“I’m not a crier when it comes to these things, but tonight meant a lot. A lot more than I show,” Guevarra said of her senior night. “All I could really do was show it on the court. It felt really nice to find that connection with the girls again. We’ve lost it for a little bit. But it meant a lot to have the support of our fans and family, and everyone else.”
And Guevarra’s intense attitude on the court stemmed from senior teammate Madison Rose.
Rose’s nagging back injury had sidelined her during a pair of games at Thunder Mountain High School on Feb. 21-22, and during practice last week.
But she returned for her senior weekend, playing in the second half of Friday’s game — when the Lady Kings battled back — and fought through the pain once more on Saturday.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to play or not,” Rose said after Saturday’s win. “... (Friday) night was OK. But I woke up very sore, so today was a little bit harder to push through. I definitely felt it in the third quarter. I was lagging a little bit.”
But the third quarter was when Guevarra did most of her damage.
She carried the Lady Kings, outscoring the Crimson Bears all on her own for two and a half minutes, going on a 9-3 run against Juneau-Douglas.
That spread included a 7-0 stretch, in which Guevarra launched a 3-pointer and drove through the lane twice for layups.
“It was hard for me to take in that (Maddie) hurt,” Guevarra said. “So I was kind of working my tail off for my best friend.”
Rose’s intensity is infectious.
“It’s hard to not follow her,” Smith said. “... You look like a fool if your teammate is flying around, diving on the floor, working hard — and you’re not. So that spreads throughout. That’s what (Maddie) brings to the table. It’s contagious.”
The Lady Kings’ only other 3-pointer came off the hands of senior Nadire Zhuta.
Like she has done so many times before inside Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium, Zhuta nailed her three in the first quarter.
“Every game, you got to take it in and be grateful,” she said. “And tonight, it hasn’t really hit me yet, that it’s the last home game — because it’s not over yet. But it will. And when it (does) it’s going to be a tough one to take in because I’ve grown up here my whole life, wanting to be a Lady King — working to be a Lady King. Once it hits me, it’s going to hit hard, for sure.”
But Zhuta’s right.
While Saturday’s game might’ve ended the Lady Kings’ regular season, the Region V tournament is right around the corner.
And these Lady Kings still have more games to play.
“This (game’s) over,” Smith said. “(But) if yesterday seems big to you, you haven’t done anything today. So we’re not going to worry about this one. We’re going to go and figure how to — no matter what happens at the region tournament — that it ends on our terms. With the effort that we expect, and representing like we expect.”
Ketchikan, along with the rest of the basketball teams in Southeast, will travel to Juneau for the tournament which begins on March 10.
“First, it’s getting your mind right,” Smith said of his team’s preparation. “Getting your mind right, and believing that you have a chance. You’ve got to put everything else behind you. There’s not one thing you can go back and change. Now it’s like, ‘What mindframe am I walking into this tournament (with)?’”
Indeed, attitudes are contagious.
“If you put yourself in the right mindframe, you’re going to put yourself in a good situation,” he said.
Ketchikan: Lianne Guevarra 22; Shaelyn Mendoza 8; Lindsay Byron 5; Jenae Rhoads 4; Nadire Zhuta 3; Madison Rose 2.
Juneau-Douglas: Sadie Tuckwood 12; Kiana Potter 10; Jenae Pusich 7; Trinity Jackson 4; Ashley Laudret 2; Skylar Tuckwood 1; Rebekah Grube 1.
*Stats courtesy of official scorebook.
Madison Rose called them the “baller trio.”
But it’s a safe bet that Lianne Guevarra, Nadire Zhuta and Rose feel right at home on a basketball court together.
They’ve been playing the game since the third grade, and have been on the same team since the seventh grade.
With three seconds left on the clock in Saturday’s game, during a pair of free throws, Smith subbed in for Zhuta and Guevarra. Rose, who had fouled out, met them in a brief huddle with their head coach as the crowd roared once more.
“I told them to enjoy it,” Smith said. “You’re walking out of this gym on your terms. You guys represented well, but the season’s not over. And we can play better than this, and we can compete with (Juneau). And we’re going to prepare to do that.”
Ketchikan will face Juneau-Douglas in the Region V tournament. And after this weekend, the Lady Kings know they can compete with one of the top teams in the state.
The ‘baller trio’s’ career inside Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium ended with a victory.
“Last home game — the pep band, the music and all that,” Zhuta said. “... We knew this time was going to come, I guess. You always want it to come faster when you’re younger. And then you get here, and you’re like, ‘Can I just go back?’ But it was a good ride. It’s been a good ride.”
Bondoc leads JV Lady Kings to 47-40 win
Hya Bondoc’s energy never slowed down.
The 5’3” freshman guard kept rolling along and finding the basket, as she scored 20 points, and helped guide the JV Lady Kings to a 47-40 win over the JV Crimson Bears on Saturday night.
Bondoc was the lone JV Lady King to score in each quarter.
Ketchikan knocked in a dozen points in each of the first two frames, taking a 24-18 lead at the half. But they barely outscored Juneau-Douglas in the second half, 23-22.
Both Bondoc and the Lady Kings’ Hayley Gilson had 10 free throw attempts. They combined to hit 45% of their freebies, sinking 9-of-20.
Gilson finished the game with seven points.
Ketchikan’s Paige Boehlert and Gabby Mas each scored six points, and Chelsea Johnson and Delaney Ingman had four points apiece.
Eddy scores eight in C squads’ 24-22 win
For the second night in a row, it took a couple quarters for the Lady Kings’ C squad to get the ball rolling. But just as they had done 24 hours earlier, Ketchikan’s C team hit its mark against the Crimson Bears’ C squad when it needed to most, ultimately winning 24-22.
The game remained tied, 2-2, after one quarter, and Ketchikan fell behind 14-8 after the first half. But the Lady Kings doubled Juneau-Douglas’ point total in the second half, 16-8, as they edged ahead for the victory.
Ketchikan freshman Lily Eddy led the C squad with eight points, knocking down four in both the second and fourth quarters.
And the Lady Kings’ Rosie Daniels hit a 3-pointer in the final frame, helping Ketchikan to its two-point victory.
Daniels’ shot was the only successful 3-pointer by either a Lady King or Crimson Bear in either the JV or C teams’ games.
Back-to-back Leap Day victories
Saturday marked the first varsity Lady Kings’ game on a Leap Day since Feb. 29, 2008.
Then coached by Bob Hammer, the Lady Kings won that Friday night contest 71-60 at Sitka High School against the Sitka Wolves.