Lori Giddings
Carson Crager slides past Panther defenders during this weekend’s home game.

Grateful for the opportunity to play and uncertain of what the future holds, the Haines Glacier Bears opened their home season the way they usually close it, by paying tribute to this year’s seniors. In front of a small crowd of family and friends, Mark Davis, Carson Crager and Jayden Hotch were honored and given gifts by their teammates in recognition of their four years of varsity basketball.

Speaking through masks and over a cranked up air-conditioning system, coach Tyler Swinton spoke of the trio’s work ethic. Then David Strong took the mic and thanked Davis for his commitment to teamwork. Next, Zander Willard told Crager, “You were always willing to help. Eric Gilham concluded the remarks by calling Hotch “the life and motivator of this little family we’ve got here.”

Then it was game time and the 2A Glacier Bears faced off against the 1A Skagway Panthers with the sense of urgency of a team that treasures every chance they have to play together. On offense, the Glacier Bears used a series of quick passes to find an open teammate and on the defense they attacked the passing lane, leading to a string of fast-break opportunities.

Five minutes into the first quarter, Haines had taken a 17-2 lead and Swinton signaled to point guard Mark Davis to slow down the tempo and began to deploy his bench. Every member of the 12-person Haines squad saw significant playing time and put points on the board in their first game of the season. Hotch and Crager led the way with 15 and 14 points, respectively, on the way to an 82-34 victory.

Skagway’s six-man squad was led by Silas Myers’ 21-point effort. He was the weekend’s most prolific scorer, chipping in another 18 on Saturday night.

The Glacier Bears’ balanced attack dominated Saturday’s game as well. Strong and Crager each scored 18, Hotch had another 15 and the Glacier Bears came away with a 76-36 win. As the starters sat together on the end of the bench they could be seen standing up to applaud whenever one of their substitutes made a basket.

Crager told the CVN, “I was glad that everyone got plenty of minutes. It was awesome to see everyone work together and to have everyone score was pretty incredible.”

Now that the team is primed, players and fans must wait and hope that the Haines and Skagway school districts’ meticulously planned pandemic protocols make future games against Region V opponents possible.

Team captain Crager had this perspective, “Overall, I’m thankful to have been able to play at least one game and it’s been an honor being a Glacier Bear. I hope we are able to continue to play more teams safely and have a great rest of the season.”