Petersburg tournament kicks off hoops season
The Glacier Bears varsity boys’ and girls’ basketball seasons get under way this weekend at the Little Norway Tournament in Petersburg.
Regular season games begin in January. The girls play Craig here Jan. 11-12 when the boys travel to play the Panthers. Both squads will compete in a reconstituted 2A division comprised of Haines, Metlakatla, Wrangell and Craig.
The Glacier Bears girls finished last season with 10-8 record and a fourth-place finish at the regional tournament that included teams in this year’s 2A plus Mount Edgecumbe, Sitka and Petersburg.
The Bears lost five seniors to graduation and one underclassman whose family left town. As coach Brian Elliott put it, “There are a lot of job openings.” Returning players with varsity minutes include seniors Alisha Young and Riley Erekson and junior Libby Jacobson.
Elliott says there are many new faces and lots of energy at practice.
“The team hasn’t played much together. We’re just trying to develop a rhythm and understanding of where to be and when to be there on the court. But expect the same style as years past, with a lot of full-court pressure and an up-and-down game,” Elliott said.
Senior Alisha Young said, “We lost a lot of seniors, but it’s been good so far. It’s going to take some time to gel, but there’s lots of potential and two out of four teams (at the regional championship) go to state, so we will definitely see.”
Players include seniors Young, Erekson, Jess Giddings and Karlie Spud, juniors Jacobson, Jamie Messerschmidt, Serena Badgley, Adalee Lari, and Coral Bauer, sophomores Celia Bower, Natalia Taylor, and Paige Winge, and freshmen Kayley Swinton, Destinee Cowart, Autumn Gross, Jenae Larson, and Bailey Stuart.
The Glacier Bear boys finished last season with a record of 8-4 in conference play and a fifth-place finish at regionals.
The squad lost a lot of height from last year but coach Steve Fossman doesn’t expect that to be too much of an issue. “The only team I can think of with a lot of size in 2A in Southeast is Metlakatla, who I believe has a big guy around 6’4”.”
The boys have three players returning with varsity experience: seniors Caullen Taylor and Chris Olsen and junior Justin Swinton.
Fossman said his squad has more speed this year to make up for the loss in size and will look to capitalize on that with a more up-tempo game and focus on defense. “We’re going to have to wait and see who’s going to surface as our scorer in the half court.”
Fossman said that there looked to be a lot of parity among 2A teams and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. His players are working hard and showing intensity, he said.
The team includes seniors Olsen, Taylor and Russell Clark, juniors Swinton, John Gross, Kai Sato-Franks, Chevy Fowler, Isaac Wing, Chris Turner, James Morgan, sophomores Keegan Sundberg, Jordan Badger and Keanu Lynch and freshmen Harley Morden and Matthew Green.