Bears fall short at Region V
Both Haines High School basketball teams were within reach of Class 2A state tournament berths last weekend in Sitka, but ended their seasons with losses.
Each team picked up an early upset at the Region V Tournament, hosted by Mount Edgecumbe High School. The girls topped Metlakatla, 54-47, in overtime on Thursday to advance to the championship game of the four-team, 2A field. The score was tied, 44-44, at the end of regulation, after senior Riley Erekson was fouled on a three-point attempt in the final minute and hit all her free throws.
“The girls executed our plan very well,” said coach Brian Elliott. “They came out with an intensity that Metlakatla did not expect, and you could see on the opponents’ faces early on they did not want to play as hard as we did.”
The contest featured several swings in momentum, as Haines led by as many as 14 points, and Metlakatla stormed back to pull ahead by seven.
“What was special about Thursday night is the amount of heart this team showed and how they wouldn’t lay down and die to a team who had beaten them four times in the regular season,” Elliott said. “… The locker room that night is why I coach - to see these players work hard as a team, play for each other and get a huge victory in an important, pressure situation.”
Erekson poured in 21 points for the Glacier Bears, followed by sophomore Celia Bower, 10; senior Alisha Young, 7; junior Libby Jacobson, 6; freshman Kayley Swinton, 5; senior Jess Giddings, 3; and junior Jamie Messerschmidt, 2.
Elliott said Giddings and Messerschmidt made “huge” baskets in overtime.
The Haines boys, who fell 61-40 to Metlakatla in their opener, snatched their first conference win the next day, 48-42, to stay alive in the tournament.
“They came out of that first game knowing that they still had a shot,” said coach Steve Fossman.
Scoring in the Metlakatla game were senior Caullen Taylor, 12; junior Isaac Wing, 12; junior Kai Sato-Franks, 8; junior Justin Swinton, 5; senior Chris Olsen, 2; and junior Chevy Fowler, 1.
Taylor and Swinton had 13 points apiece against Wrangell. Sato-Franks scored six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. Wing had 8 points, and Olsen and sophomore Keanu Lynch each scored 2.
“Isaac Wing really emerged and peaked for us at the end of the season, which was a good lift,” Fossman said.
The Glacier Bear girls had two chances to secure a spot at state. In the tournament championship game on Friday, Craig held off Haines, 43-37, to grab the conference’s first of two seeds in Anchorage. Tallying points for Haines were Erekson, 13; Jacobson, 7; Bower, 5; Giddings, 5; Swinton, 4; and Young, 3.
Haines then had a rematch with Metlakatla on Saturday with a trip to state on the line, and Metlakatla took a 55-47 victory. Erekson finished her Glacier Bear career with 22 points. Bower and Young added 8 points each; Jacobson, 5; and Giddings, 4.
“Riley Erekson was a scoring machine and turned in one of our best regional performances in my tenure as coach,” Elliott said. “We had strong guard play overall with Libby and Celia defending well and scoring above their season averages.”
The Haines boys also were one win short of Anchorage, as they fell to Craig, 74-62, in the consolation final on Saturday. Metlakatla and Craig will represent Southeast in the 2A boys’ tournament. The Glacier Bears led, 17-15, at the start of the second quarter, but couldn’t stop the Panthers. The scoring for Haines included Taylor, 19; Swinton, 13; Wing, 10; Olsen and Sato-Franks, 9; and Lynch, 2.
“We scared Craig, and got great compliments from people about how hard we played,” Fossman said.
He said Taylor “was very aggressive and put in a lot of scoring that we needed,” and Olsen showed heart by taking charges. “There were some big guys in the tournament.”
Two up-and-comers for Haines next season are Sato-Franks, who took on more responsibilities as point guard this year, and Lynch, whom Fossman has credited repeatedly for his “fearless” play.
Justin Swinton, Erekson and Young were named to the All-Conference team.