February 3, 2011 |

Craig boys toughen up in 2nd game to split series

The Glacier Bear boys’ varsity team split a home series with the Craig Panthers and the squad’s "C" team iced a 54-53 overtime win against Juneau’s Crimson Bears in basketball action last weekend.

On Friday night, varsity play was close and action packed as both teams struggled early to find their rhythm and flow. The Bears’ bench was a little deeper and their rebounding height played a critical role in the 61-56 victory.

Panthers’ senior Ryan Baxter sank three of his team’s six treys in the final period but couldn’t quite get past the sharp-shooting Bears who made 11 of 16 from the charity stripe in the final period to maintain the lead.

Also key was junior Devin Braaten’s nine points in the fourth, six of which came from the pinpoint passing by teammates for easy layups. Senior Tyler Swinton was patient with the offense, rebounded aggressively and led all scorers with 26.

Other Haines scorers were: Braaten, 13, senior Eric Klinger, 7, juniors Austin Badger and Parker Schnabel, 4 each, junior Brandon Haxton, 3, Taylor, 2 and Justin Swinton, 2.

Panther scoring: Baxter, 14, Castle, 13, Nelson, 12, DJ Almenzor, 10, M. Almenzor, 5, Thain, 1 and Vaughan, 1.

Saturday was a different story.

Craig led the whole way, winning 59-42. When two teams are evenly matched, small things win a game. For Craig on Saturday, it was learning how to play a more physical game than allowed on their home court, while not losing composure.

Haines put together repeated runs but could not shake the tough Panthers. Three Panthers had won state wrestling titles earlier this year and they held their ground. Haines’ shooting went off target for all but Swinton who led all scorers with 22.

Other Haines scoring: Klinger, 8, Badger and Braaten, 3 each, Schnabel, Haxton and Chris Olsen, 2 each. Panther scorers: Baxter, 17, Almenzor, 15, M. Almenzor, 8, Thain, 7, Nelson 6, and Castle, 4.

In the "C" squad game against Juneau, freshman Devin Light racked up 37 points in three quarters and the overtime period. He also hit a trey with seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime.

Playing in his second game, freshman Issac Wing had 6, senior Zak Little, 3, and freshmen John Gross, Kai Franks, James Morgan, and Chevy Fowler, 2 each. Kevin Guimmayen of Juneau ended with 33.

Craig’s JV showed its strength Friday, blasting by the Bears in a 78-57 shootout. Freshman Justin Swinton led Bears’ scoring with 16; Light, 12, senior Nathan Piper, and sophomores Chris Olsen and Patrick Henderson, 8 each, sophomore Caullen Taylor, 3, and Gross, 2. All Panther players scored. They were paced by Malik Almenzor with 18 and Francis McKinley with 16.

After a 26-hour trip and hour-long bus ride, the Haines Glacier Bear girls went straight onto Craig’s court and had 22 turnovers in the first half Friday night. Coach Brian Elliott said that "the team just kind of forgot" how to play defense. "They scored plenty of points in the two games to win but allowed Craig to score more," Elliott said.

The Bears lost 70-62 Friday and 73-59 on Saturday. Craig has only lost to 4A teams this season. "They are beatable. We just have to play our game, not theirs," Elliott said.

Craig’s Melissa Castle scored 30, Alex Owen, 21, Grace Beckman, 14, Maggie Dinon, 4, Jeneta Johnson, 1. Senior Abby Jones led the Bears Friday with 18. Other Haines scorers were sophomore Syerra Braaten, 14, junior Hannah Wing, 8, sophomore Alisha Young, 5, junior Amey Messerschidt, 5, junior Ashley Messerschmidt, 4, junior Anna Jacobson, 3, sophomore Riley Erekson, 3, and senior Jolene Lemeiux, 2.

Elliott said he expected his players to recover from the long travel and play better Saturday. That didn’t happen. Craig dictated the pace and outscored the Bears in every quarter.

Panther captain Liz Isaacs didn’t score and fouled out in the first half Friday but bounced back to lead her team with 20 Saturday. Panther scoring: Beckman, 18, Owen, 16, Castle, 12, Katie Dinon, 5, Maggie Dinon, 2. Jones led Bear scoring with 18. Other contributors: Braaten and Wing, 10 each, Erekson, 7, Amey Messerschmidt, 5, Young, 4, Lemieux, 2 and Ashley Messerschmidt, 2.

The JV lost Saturday, 61-30. Sophomore Jess Giddings had 10, freshman Grace Jones, 9, Anna Jacobson, 5, and freshman Libby Jacobson, Jamie Messerschmidt, and Ashley Messerschmidt, 2 each.