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Girls top Craig, notch 1st win

 


The Haines High School girls’ basketball team split its varsity series with defending state champion Craig last weekend.

The Glacier Bears, playing in their home opener Friday, headed into intermission with a one-point lead, 21-20. Junior Celia Bower scored a dozen points in the first half.

Haines extended the margin to three by the end of the third. The Panthers had the ball with 14 seconds remaining, trailing 36-35. They couldn’t convert against a formidable Glacier Bear defense, and Haines left the gym with its first conference victory of the season.

“I was pretty happy with the way we closed out the game,” said coach Brian Elliott. “One of the major reasons we won is we didn’t commit turnovers in the last few minutes.”

He said Haines wasn’t stalling in the fourth, but instead being “very deliberate in our half-court offense.”

Bower led the team with 13 points, followed by senior Grace Jones and sophomore Kayley Swinton, 6; senior Libby Jacobson, 4; seniors Serena Badgley and Jamie Messerschmidt and sophomore Autumn Gross, 2; and junior Natalia Taylor, 1.

“I thought we could have played better, and we still ended up winning,” Elliott said. “Mentally, we have to feel like we can compete with any team in our league on any given night.”

He said the Glacier Bears placed “constant attention” on Craig’s Maggie Dinon, a top returnee from the Panthers’ state championship squad, with Jacobson handling much of the responsibility. Dinon tallied 10 points. The Panthers were missing the services of Dinon’s twin sister, Katie, who didn’t make the trip.

Craig bounced back in the second varsity match-up Saturday, holding Haines to three points in the decisive fourth quarter on the way to a 35-28 win.

The Panthers poured in 14 points during the first quarter, a result that was “uncharacteristic of our defense,” Elliott said. Haines then found more success with its full-court pressure and scoring in transition, he said.

The Glacier Bears grabbed a 25-24 lead at the end of the third, but the offense lagged in the final frame. Referee Don Nash whistled Elliott for a technical foul for leaving the coaching box with Craig leading 32-28. The Panthers missed both free throws, but Elliott said the call took a lot of energy out of the crowd.

Elliott said there’s been no defined coaching box in Haines, and he’s always shifted back and forth throughout the game to instruct his players.

“I’ve done the same thing in that gym for seven years,” Elliott said. “It seemed like an arbitrary decision to me.”

Swinton was the top scorer for Haines, with 9 points, including a timely 3-pointer in the fourth. Messerschmidt had 5 points, Bower and Jones, 4; and Badgley, Gross and Jacobson, 2.

Swinton also proved formidable on defense, stuffing several Craig shot attempts.

“We were working on blocking those shots into the court, instead of out of bounds,” Elliott said.

The Haines junior varsity also had a game go down to the wire, losing to Craig, 28-27, on Friday, with Taylor scoring 11 points, freshman Olivia Wing, 6; freshman Bozhi Sebens, 4; sophomore Jenae Larson, 3; freshman Jordan Stigen, 2; and sophomore Bailey Stuart, 1.

The JV Panthers posted a double-digit win the following night, 34-19. Scoring for Haines were Wing, 6; Stuart and Taylor, 4; Sebens and freshman Lyric Wiggins, 2; and Larson, 1.

The Haines boys were slated to play at Craig this week, followed by a series this weekend at Wrangell. The Glacier Bear girls also will be playing at Wrangell this weekend.