Senior Riley Erekson kept Haines close but the Craig Panthers clawed to victories Friday and Saturday over the Glacier Bear girls in the basketball season’s home opener series at Karl Ward Gym.
The series featured the gym’s new, bouncier floor, new bleachers and a strong sound from the Haines pep band. The games were hard-fought and well-played.
With just a minimal number of players, Craig won Friday, 42-36, and in overtime Saturday, 35-34.
On Friday, Craig led by one point at the half. The Bears tied the score at the end of the third period, 25-25, mainly on the shooting of senior Erekson, who added five, including two free throws and a three-pointer.
The fourth period went down to the wire, then turned when the more experienced Craig team forced three turnovers and converted all to seal the six-point win. Panthers’ scoring: Katie Dinon, 13, Maggie Dinon, 9, Jeneata Johnson, 8, Raven Krolikowski, 6, Marie Yates, 4, and Kayla Hamme, 4.
Haines scoring included Erekson, 12, senior Elisha Young, 9, freshman Kayley Swinton, 6, sophomore Celia Bauer, 4, senior Jess Giddings, 3, and junior point-guard Libby Jacobson, 2.
On Saturday, Craig’s small team became even smaller when junior Effie Chen had to sit out after a severe toothache became a dental emergency.
Haines took a two-point lead into the locker room at half-time, 16-14. Leading 24-20 at the end of the third, the game was going the Bears way. Erekson again kept her team ahead by sinking two, three-pointers.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Craig’s Hamme fouled out and minutes later, so did leading scorer Dinon. So with two minutes left to play, Haines had the lead and a one-player advantage against “The Craig Four.”
But nothing is ever certain in sports. Strong coaching from Craig’s Richard Hansen helped the Panthers tie the game, forcing the overtime session. Junior Jeneata Johnson sank three of four free throws to win the game as Haines was only able to put in two points during the extra session.
Scoring for Craig: Yates, 12, K. Dinon, 10, M. Dinon, 8, Johnson, 5. Scoring for Haines: Erekson, 12, Bauer, 7, Swinton 5, junior Jamie Messerschmidt, 4, and 2 each for Giddings, Young and Jacobson.
Highlights were newcomer freshman Kayley Swinton’s first two buckets in Friday night’s game, Erekson’s accurate shooting from behind the arc, and Young’s aggressive rebounding.
A possible game-winning lay-up by Erekson Saturday was whistled dead when a ball came out of the stands and rolled across the court. In what seemed a sign of Haines coach Brian Elliott’s tough luck all weekend, the ball had come out of the hands of his toddler daughter, Caroline.
Come see the girls’ team in action this weekend against division rival Metlakatla.