Diligent defense, brisk ball movement and open looks at the basket propelled the Lady Kings of Ketchikan High School to a season-opening, 53-19 win over the Mt. Edgecumbe Lady Braves in day one of the Doc Larson Roundball Classic at Wasilla High School.
Mt. Edgecumbe stayed in the game until the end, but couldn’t keep pace with the size and quickness shown by the Lady Kings. Meanwhile, the Kayhi squad had moments inherent to a season-opener.
“I thought we looked like a team that was playing its first game of the season,” said Kayhi coach Kelly Smith said. “We had some really good moments, and then we had some moments that were some frustrations — turnovers that were just like a lack of concentration or being tired.
“But there was a lot more good than bad, that’s for sure,” Smith said. “But coming from the analytical coach side, we could definitely play a lot better.”
Kayhi senior Jenae Rhoads opened the scoring, drawing a foul on a two-point shot and draining the free-throw to put the Lady Kings up 3-0. By the time the first quarter closed with Kayhi up 13-5, four Lady Kings — Rhoads, Bree Johnson, Lindsay Byron and Gabby Mas — had put points on the board.
Rhoads was mostly unstoppable in the paint en route to a game-high 18 points. She and Byron closed off the interior routes on defense, while Johnson was able to get open shots on offense from a variety of locations, including outside the arc.
Johnson hit two 3-pointers in the first half and another in the third quarter as she added 15 points to Kayhi’s overall tally.
“I thought Jenae played really well down low, and I thought Lindsay defended well,” Smith said. “Bree’s going to score for us. All of our kids played hard. Jenae really stood out, kind of controlling things early for us and getting us rolling. And then Lindsey did control the paint on the defensive end. She had numerous blocks and rebounds.”
The first half ended with Kayhi comfortably ahead 29-7. The Lady Kings struggled in the opening minutes of the third quarter, suffering a series of turnovers that Mt. Edgecumbe couldn’t capitalize on.
During that time, though, Kayhi’s senior guard Shaelyn Mendoza hit a 3-pointer before a torrent of Kayhi scoring put the Lady Kings up 43-11 going into the fourth and final frame.
Mt. Edgecumbe posted its highest point total in the fourth quarter, led by four points from Carliese O’Brien, before the game ended with a final score of 53-19 in Kayhi’s favor.
The Lady Kings are scheduled to play Bartlett High School at 1 p.m. on Friday during the second day of the tournament. Bartlett, which won the 4A state championship earlier this year, lost on Thursday to Sierra Canyon of Florida, one of the top high-school level basketball programs in the country.
“Bartlett’s going to be hungry,” Smith said, noting the Sierra Canyon/Bartlett game. “And they lost by quite a bit. So they’re going to be ready to play hard.”
Smith added that the Bartlett team is a “little bit bigger” than the Ketchikan team, and they’ve got the championship pedigree from the previous season.
“We’re going to have our hands full,” he said. “We’re going to come ready to play, and compete with them. Clean up a lot of little mistakes, I don’t expect it to be perfect tomorrow, but I expect us to play better.”
The point is to build as a team toward the long-term goal.
“We have high aspirations for the season,” Smith said. “We know we can play better, and now we’ve just got to get better every day.”
Kayhi: Jenae Rhoads, 18; Bree Johnson, 15; Shaelyn Mendoza, 7; Lindsay Byron, 6; Gabby Mas, 4; Hya Bondoc,2: Paige Boehlert, 1.
Mt. Edgecumbe: Carliese O’Brien, 6; Marine Westdahl, 5; Mia Anderson, 2; Kathy Jones, 2; Ashley Rexford, 2; Charlee Korthuis, 2.