The recent offensive woes for the Ketchikan boys basketball team hit a new low on Saturday as the Kings struggled to score in a 55-35 loss to Monroe Catholic in the Mt. McKinley Bank tournament in Fairbanks.
The Kings have been implementing a new offense this season to take advantage of the players’ skills, specifically the number of capable outside shooters on the squad.
But after averaging more than 80 points per game during a 3-0 start to the season, the Kings have barely averaged 50 points per contest in going 1-4 in their last five games. 
On Saturday, the Kings went without hitting a field goal for an eight-minute stretch in the first half, and then, after clawing their way back into the game early in the second half, hit another five-minute scoreless drought as Monroe pulled away.
Early season woes are not a new thing for Ketchikan teams, but the offensive struggles have been especially pronounced in the last two games, a 65-49 loss to Grace Christian on Friday, followed by the 35-point scoring outing against Monroe. Ketchikan opened the tournament with a 55-36 win over Soldotna.
“I asked the kids after the game, ‘Do you want to do this? Or do you want to go back to (last year’s offense),” Ketchikan coach Eric Stockhausen said. “They are all committed to continuing to work on this offense that is designed to highlight their skillsets.
“They are frustrated right now. They are used to the ball going in,” Stockhausen added. “They know they can do it. They have done it before. We are just thinking a little bit too much out there. Our hesitation caused some of our turnovers. We are committed. We just have to come together and execute and believe.”
The Kings (4-4) host arguably the best 2A team in the state in Metlakatla on Friday and Saturday before heading up to the Alaska Airlines Classic in Anchorage in late January where they will face more top teams from Alaska and Outside.
“This happens almost every year to us,” Stockhausen said of the January doldrums. “And with the West tournament looming, there is a chance that it is going to get even darker. But if it doesn’t break us, we will be better for the experience. And we will be, because these kids are tough to break. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it.”
Grace Christian is the top 3A team in the state and went 3-0 against 4A schools in the Fairbanks tournament. Monroe Catholic is a regular among the top squads in the state. Last week in the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic, the Kings played Philomath, the top 4A team in Oregon.
“We purposely schedule like that so that we have to get better,” Stockhausen said. “We could play the sort of schedule that would have us thinking that we are the best thing since the ’90 Bulls, but that wouldn’t help us get ready for the playoffs.”
Ketchikan scored the first five points of the game on Saturday, with JJ Parker hitting a 3-pointer, and then finding Marcus Stockhausen for a layup. But after going 5-0 in the opening minutes, the Kings didn’t hit another field goal until three minutes into the second quarter.
Monroe Catholic led 12-6 after the first quarter and pushed the lead to 24-11 in the second quarter before the Kings scored the final six points to cut the lead to 24-17 at the half. Joeben Lorenzo drained a 3-pointer off an assist from Parker to give the Kings some momentum heading into the break.
Another 3-pointer by Lorenzo early in the second half got the Kings with 24-20, but then Kayhi went cold from the field again and Monroe went on a 13-0 run to built a 37-20 advantage.
Much of Ketchikan’s shooting difficulties lately have come simply because the Kings haven’t been getting quality looks at the basket.
“We watched the film from Grace and what we saw was that our spacing was non-existent,” Stockhausen said. “The spacing is key. We have to draw a second defender. Then we have to put pressure on them, and make good quick reads. We do it in practice, and we have done it in games, but we’ve seem some game slippage. We have a need for more repetition, but you can’t duplicate the size and the intensity of the game when you are going against these better teams.”
That the Kings were even close early in the second half of the games against Grace and Monroe was a testament to the team’s defense, especially against two of the top big men in the state. The Kings held Grace Christian 6-7 center Sloan Lentfer to three points, and Monroe Catholic 6-5 center Trevor Mahler to five points, including just one field.
Grace and Monroe had success shooting from the outside, but the biggest difference in both games was Ketchikan turning the ball over frequently and struggling to run its offense.
Parker led the Kings with nine points, but after his early 3-point basket, he didn’t score again until the fourth quarter when he added two field goals and a pair of free throws. Jared Rhodes added seven points. Joeben Lorenzo finished with six points, with his pair of 3-pointers spanning halftime accounting for his scoring. Andrew Kleinschmidt and Marcus Stockhausen each finished with four points.
Stefan Felix led Monroe with 18 points, including 13 in the first half. Armani Smith added 11 points. Jack Mavencamp and Jett McCullough each scored seven. Monroe hit eight 3-pointers in the win, while Ketchikan was held to four. 
While the Kings are struggling in games, Stockhausen said that the frustration hasn’t spilled over off the court or into practices.
“Most of these kids have grown up together since Kindergarten,” Stockhausen said. “They are close, but we have to get even closer. I like these kids. I like our staff. We are in this together, and we just have to keep at it.”