Dylan Swinton crashes through Wrangell defenders for a layup. Kyle Clayton photo.

In the final countdown to this year’s tournament basketball, the Haines Glacier Bears hosted the Wrangell Wolves Sunday and Monday. Fans gathered in the friendly confines of Karl Ward Gymnasium to witness the last home games for four seniors: Brittney Bradford, Makayla Crager, Hudson Sage and Dylan Swinton.

The Haines girls came out first, facing the Wrangell full-court press that handcuffed them earlier in the season. This time they broke the press early and often. Raine Winge stormed down the court for fast-break layups on two press breaks, a steal and a rebound that she took coast to coast. She also drained a three-pointer to finish with 12 points. Bradford also scored 12, but Wrangell sophomore Kaylyn Easterly netted 32 and the Wolves went on to an 84-44 victory.

The Glacier Bear boys played yet another down-to-the-wire game in a season that has been full of hotly contested 2A matchups in Southeast. This time the ball bounced Wrangell’s way. With the game tied at 16 after the first quarter, the Wolves went on a 10-0 run. The Glacier Bears clawed their way back to a 33-29 halftime lead. Midway through the fourth quarter, Carson Crager drilled a three from the corner, and banked in a fast-break layup to give Haines the lead, 54-47. Wrangell pulled even, then ahead. With 30 seconds left, Haines worked the ball in to Swinton, who scored from the low post to tie it at 58.

With 4.4 seconds on the clock, Wrangell’s Riley Blatchley hit two free throws and the Wolves pulled off a 61-59 win.

On Monday’s home finale, every player on both Glacier Bears’ rosters saw playing time. In a physical girls’ matchup, both the Wolves and the Glacier Bears found themselves in the double bonus twice, with each team committing over 10 fouls in each half.

Marissa Haddock muscled three offensive rebounds that she turned into six points. Crager

also had six and Bradford scored 10. Haines had eight players sink baskets, with players who had been new to the game just months ago demonstrating confidence, awareness and hustle on both ends of the floor.

Late in the game Crager picked up her fifth foul. As the crowd rose to applaud her career, Bradford went over and put her arm around her friend’s shoulders and spoke to her, savoring their final moments of home court time in Glacier Bears’ green and white. With 1:21 remaining, Coach Greg Brittenham pulled Bradford so she could receive her ovation.

Between games, Haddock addressed the crowd. She saluted Crager for “being such a hard-working, dedicated player.” She credited Bradford’s leadership for bringing the team together, telling her, “We can always count on you to pick us up when we are feeling down.” She also thanked coaches Greg and Luann Brittenham for their dedication.

Boys’ coach Steve Fossman spoke about how much it means to have “solid, four-year guys” like Swinton and Sage. Cade Clay thanked Sage for “showing him the ropes.” He called him “the brother I never had.” Kirby Faverty lauded Swinton “for always giving 110 percent every game.”

For much of the game, it seemed like 110 percent might not be enough, as Haines struggled to put the ball in the hole. At the end of the first quarter, they trailed 14-7. In the second, Swinton picked up his third foul and had to spend the rest of the half on the bench. In the last 40 seconds of the half, Mark Davis knocked loose two steals and Faverty hit a three to draw the Glacier Bears within nine, 29-20.

With their shots missing, the Glacier Bears had to rely on their man-to man defense to keep things close. Davis relentlessly attacked the dribble of Wrangell point guard Trevor Miller. He finished with five of his team’s 10 steals. Crager fought through picks and slid his feet to keep the quick first step of Tymon Teat in check.

Haines was down 33-22 in the third quarter before lighting out on a 13-1 run. With six seconds in the quarter, Davis drove into the lane and hit a running, left-handed hook shot. He was fouled and converted the three-point play to bring his team to within one, 35-34.

In the fourth quarter of their fourth game against Wrangell, with both of their captains having four fouls, the Glacier Bears put their game into high gear, exhibiting impressive late game energy and decision making.

After Swinton gave Haines the lead on a move in the paint, he came up with a steal and drove the length of the court for a layup. Seconds later, Davis batted the ball at the front of the press and laid it in. After having trailed all game, the Glacier Bears led, 40-35. Swinton blocked the next shot on defense.

The Wolves flung themselves at Swinton desperately trying to get him to foul out. Miller drove the ball into the lane and put up a backward shot, looking for contact. Swinton planted his feet with his arms straight up and drew the charge.

Haines continued to pull further ahead. With 2:30 to play they led 50-40 and went into their spread offense. Wrangell scrambled for the steal and Crager ran the baseline and scored an easy bucket. The Glacier Bears hit four of six free throws down the stretch to take a 56-40 lead and with 35 seconds left, Fossman was able to pull his senior co-captains. They left the game to a thunderous ovation. Swinton had 22 points.

The victory locks up the number two regional tournament seed for Haines, behind first place Metlakatla. They are scheduled for a first-round matchup against the number three seed, the Wrangell Wolves. The two team split their season series 2-2, with Haines outscoring Wrangell 236-225 in the four games.