A ferocious Haines defense sparked by an all-senior starting lineup wore down Mount Edgecumbe on Saturday as the Glacier Bears won their season finale, 54-42.
The Braves held the ball for more than a minute at the end of the first half, but Haines senior Tyler Swinton grabbed a rebound with just enough time to heave a pass to younger brother Justin Swinton for a layup before the buzzer. The crowd roared with approval as the Glacier Bears left the court with a 20-15 lead.
“It was pretty loud,” said coach Steve Fossman. “It was a good way to go in at halftime, for sure.”
Tyler Swinton scored 18 points on the night, followed by senior Devin Braaten, 11; senior Parker Schnabel, 9; sophomore Justin Swinton, 5; senior Brandon Haxton and junior Caullen Taylor, 4; and senior Logan Simpson, 3. Schnabel was 7-7 from the foul line.
Seniors Braaten, Haxton, Schnabel, Simpson and Swinton started for the Glacier Bears in their last home game.
“I kind of do that year by year,” Fossman said of the senior lineup. “It depends, for me, on commitment to the program, years they’ve been on the team and things like that. I don’t always start seniors, but this is a real legitimate group to have all seniors start.”
He said the team’s sixth senior, Austin Badger, has served as “manager/assistant statistician/coach” and has been a regular presence at team practices while out for the season with a knee injury.
Haines had a slower start in its opening loss to Mount Edgecumbe on Friday, 48-39. Scoring included Tyler Swinton, 14; Simpson and Justin Swinton, 6; Braaten, 4; and Haxton, Taylor and sophomore Devin Light with 3 apiece.
Fossman said he expects Haines to be seeded no worse than third at the regional tournament in Ketchikan, with an 8-4 conference record.
“Edgecumbe had just come off of a road win; they beat Juneau on Juneau’s home court, so they’re going to be one of the major obstacles to make it to state for us,” Fossman said. “We got better and learned a few things right before going to regionals, so it was a very good way to go out for us.”
The Haines girls lost to Mount Edgecumbe twice last weekend, but pushed the hosts to overtime in the second game.
Hannah Wing led the Glacier Bears with 17 points on Friday in a 56-39 defeat. Senior Marnie Rasmussen had 8 points, senior Amey Messerschmidt, 6; junior Alisha Young, 4; and senior Ashley Messerschmidt and sophomore Grace Jones, 2.
Mount Edgecumbe held off Haines in overtime Saturday, 48-38, stretching the margin at the free-throw line. Wing poured in a dozen points, Amey Messerschmidt, 11; Ashley Messerschmidt, 6; Young, 5; and Rasmussen, 4.
“Our defensive intensity was way better than the night before,” said coach Brian Elliott. “I feel like we outplayed them, even though we didn’t come up with the win.”
He said the team showed discipline to wait for the last shot in regulation, but could not convert.
Elliott said Haines appears set for a fourth seed at the regional tournament, with a 5-7 record in the conference. Play would open 8 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, and he’s not worried about the early start.
“There’s nothing to think about,” Elliott said. “Just wake up and play basketball.”
Mount Edgecumbe swept the junior varsity games, besting the Haines boys 65-43 and 51-37 and the girls 36-21 and 35-31. The JV teams will take the court again at the annual Triple Threat Tournament this weekend in Haines.