There hasn’t been much time for the Ketchikan High School Lady Kings to take their foot off the gas pedal. With two weeks of a nine-week season down, and the end of Week 3 fast approaching, the Lady Kings (5-1) are forced to keep rolling along.
Lucky for them, they’ve been rolling on nearly all cylinders since the start of the season.
“We’ve done a lot of work in three weeks,” Lady Kings’ head coach Kelly Smith said. “We’ve played six games, now, and had a five-day roadtrip.”
The Lady Kings jumped right into their abbreviated season, after only a few days of practice, with a trip to Juneau from Jan. 20-24, splitting a pair of contests with Thunder Mountain High School, and winning both games of a twin bill against Juneau-Douglas High School.
But this time, it will be the Lady Kings’ turn to host, as the Juneau-Douglas Lady Crimson Bears come to town for a two-game series on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s tipoff inside Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium is scheduled for 7:15 p.m., with the junior varsity squad starting the action at 5:45 p.m.
“We kind of anticipate their skill level,” Smith said of the Lady Crimson Bears. “They’re going to be different as a team. But so are we.”
Smith expects that in two weeks, the Lady Crimson Bears have become more cohesive in their play. But at the same time, the Lady Kings have, too.
Despite its two wins against Juneau-Douglas to open the season, Kayhi struggled to break the 40-point plateau in either game, winning 37-32 on Jan. 20, and 38-32 on Jan. 21. But the Lady Kings will enter Friday having scored more than 40 points in their last two games — both wins over Sitka High School.
“Sitka doesn’t do a lot of what Juneau does, so it’ll be a completely different game (plan),” Smith said. “... But the kids are excited. They’re excited to be playing.”
The defending Region V champion Lady Crimson Bears will bring experience with them, as returners Kiana Potter, Trinity Jackson, Skylar Tuckwood and Jenae Pusich have played pivotal roles for Juneau-Douglas’ the past couple seasons.
“It’s going to be fun,” Smith said.
Bree for three
Kayhi freshman Bree Johnson leads the Lady Kings with 10 3-pointers thus far in the young season. The Lady Kings’ long-range shooter has hit two 3-pointers in each of the last three games, dating back to Jan. 23.
In Kayhi’s latest contest — a 47-32 win over Sitka High School on Jan. 30 — Johnson had her first double-digit scoring affair, knocking in 12 points, with half of those coming from beyond the arc. She has increased her point total in each of the last four games.
Johnson ranks third on the team in scoring, with 42 points this season, and sits only behind Shaelyn Mendoza (44) and Jenae Rhoads (51).
“(Bree’s) ready to shoot when she catches (the ball),” Smith said. “She’s ready to shoot; she wants to shoot, and that’s a good mindset to have. ... She shoots around in the gym a lot, and when she sees something that looks like what she’s practiced 1,000 times, she’s going to do it in a game, and I’m good with that.”
Points off the bench
While the Lady Kings’ starting five — Shaelyn Mendoza, Jenae Rhoads, Lindsay Byron, Paige Boehlert and Bree Johnson — have amassed the majority of the team’s scoring this season, totaling 206 of the team’s 231 points scored, the Lady Kings have consistently received valuable contributions from their bench players.
Gabby Mas, Hya Bondoc and Hayley Gilson have received the bulk of those minutes, and have combined for 25 points this season. In each of the Lady Kings’ first six games, at least one of the three has scored.
The trio also has been pulling double duty, as the varsity game is typically their second game of the night. They’ve helped the JV Lady Kings to a 4-2 record this season.
Gilson has averaged double digits every game in a JV Lady Kings’ uniform, leading the way with 62 points this season. Bondoc has scored 54 points for the JV Lady Kings, and Mas — who has totaled four points in a JV uniform — leads the trio with 14 when they’re bumped up to the varsity squad.
“They’re filling the roles we need,” Smith said. “Gabby and Hayley will come in for a post player, if we need it, ... or they’ll come in for Paige and Bree on the wing. ... Hya is a basketball kid who loves it, watches it; eats, sleeps and dreams basketball. And she’s allowing Shae (Mendoza) to take a break here and there. So it’s great because those three are filling five spots, and they’re doing a good job.”
Saturday’s game times changed
Originally scheduled for 5:45 p.m. (JV) and 7:15 p.m. (varsity) on both Friday and Saturday, tipoff times for Saturday have been bumped up to 4 p.m. (JV) and 5:30 p.m. (varsity), so that Juneau-Douglas can catch its flight back home following the varsity game.
Friday’s game times are still scheduled for 5:45 p.m. (JV) and 7:15 p.m. (varsity).
Kings take a break
The Kings’ JV and varsity squads are scheduled to keep their bye week this weekend, although they’ve continued to practice. They are currently scheduled to host Thunder Mountain High School on Feb. 12-13.
Games to be broadcast
Just like this past weekend’s series against Sitka High School, seating will be limited inside Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium. Each participant within the girls’ basketball program, the Kayhi cheerleaders and KHighlites dance team was allowed two tickets to pass out. Only those individuals with a ticket will be allowed inside.
Temperature checks and health questionnaires will be taken at the front door of Kayhi, and appropriate face coverings will be required.
For those at home, the games will be live streamed at kgbsd.org/live, and also on KTKN radio.