In games last weekend that were about as far apart geographically as you can be in Southeast Alaska, Haines boys and girls swept the Metlakatla Chiefs.
The boys’ varsity won a thriller, 51-50, Friday against the Chiefs on their home court. Coach Steve Fossman said the game was a good win. "We were down most of the game, but some good full-court pressure defense on late caused turnovers and finished."
With a minute left, junior Tyler Swinton made a trey and classmate Parker Schnabel stole a Metlakatla inbounds pass. Parker was fouled and missed the free throw, but Haines rebounded and scored for a one-point lead.
With just seconds left, Metlakatla missed the front side of a one-and-one free throw and Haines held on for victory. Fossman praised Swinton for making good decisions and taking on-balance, "squared-up" shots.
"The rest of the team did a good job of being aware of where Swinton was, setting good screens and making good passes," Fossman said. Swinton led all scorers with a career high 37. Other Haines scorers: Schnabel, 5, junior Austin Badger, 4, junior Brandon Haxton, 2, senior Nathan Piper, 2, and sophomore Caullen Taylor, 1. Matthew Atkinson led the Chiefs with 17. Other scorers: Eric Hudson, 13, Tadd Ylineimi, 10, Tristan Alexander, 6, and Thomas Brendible, 4.
Saturday was a battle. Tied 18-18 at the end of the first period, Haines built a five-point lead at the half, reduced to two points at the end of the third. The Bears won a free-throw contest in the stretch for a 64-57 win. Swinton shot six for six and Badger made three of six for nine of the 17 fourth-quarter points. Haxton made eight of the team’s 12 points in the third, which helped pull some of the Chiefs’ defense away from Swinton.
Coach Fossman told the team to expect a 2-2 zone with the best Chief defender on Swinton and the Bears handled it nicely. Swinton sank five treys and paced the team with 33. Rounding out Haines scorers were: Haxton, 10, Badger, 9, senior Eric Klinger, 6, and junior Devin Braaten, 2.
Haines’ JV won both games, 54-23 and 56-25. Freshman Devin Light and Piper led scoring with 44 and 25, respectively, in the two games.
The team travels to Mount Edgecumbe next week. The Braves are undefeated and have "4A talent from Anchorage" this year, Fossman said. "I like playing the best team just before regionals because then you know what to expect."
Sitka also is undefeated, so Haines will have to beat one or the other for any chance for a repeat trip to state.
Winning 66-24 and 59-40 put smiles on the faces of the Lady Bears last weekend. Senior captain Abby Jones scored 28 in three periods and junior point-guard and play-maker Hannah Wing appears to be back to full strength.
Coach Brian Elliott used the press to knock the stuffing out of the Chiefs. After pulling the press back and using bench players in the fourth, the Chiefs still only managed six points Friday night. Wing had 10, sophomore Syerra Braaten, 9, juniors Amey Messerschmidt, 8, Ashley Messerschmidt, 5, and senior Jolene Lemeiux, 6. Sophomore Alisha Young stepped into a starting role, played strong defense and rebounded well. Jennifer Casperson led the Chiefs with 7.
On Saturday, Wing scored first with a trey, followed with two more and 17 points total. Jones led the Bear attack with 18. Other scorers were Braaten, 9, Young, 6, Amey Messerschmidt, 4, freshman Karlie Spud, 2, sophomore Jess Giddings, 2, and Ashley Messerschmidt, 1.
Casperson and Trisha Brendible had 12 each to lead the Chiefs. Coach Elliott pulled the press back right from the start of the game. The Bears worked on some isolation plays that allowed Wing and Jones to score easy buckets in their half-court offense.
The team travels by van this weekend to Valdez for a non-conference tournament. Hopefully this will toughen them up in preparation for their final series against Edgecumbe here. They need to learn how to beat teams that are as good as they are!