Lori Giddings
Mark Davis secured the Glacier Bears’ victory against Metlakatla after sinking two last-second free throws.

More than a year after the last Division 2A games took place in Haines, the Metlakatla Chiefs visited for a holiday weekend series, playing games Sunday night and Monday morning. For the boys it was a much- anticipated rematch between rival squads who are very familiar with one another. The teams split their four regular season games last year before Haines pulled off two close, come-from-behind victories when the teams faced each other at the Region V tournament. Each roster has only a few changes from last season and they quickly picked up where they left off. On Sunday, the Chiefs took an early lead with strong inside moves and kept the Glacier Bears from finding their groove on offense. They led 24-18 at the half. The Haines offense kicked into gear with 20 points in the third quarter, but Metlakatla countered by shooting a whopping seven for nine from three-point range in the quarter. The Glacier Bears kept it close most of the way, but the Chiefs pulled away in the end for a 66-48 win. Aiden Rolando led all scorers with 17 points. Carson Crager had 13 for the Glacier Bears. Eric Gilham and Luke Davis scored 10 apiece.

On Monday the Glacier Bears took an early lead with their quick-passing, fast-breaking style of play. After three quarters they held a 10-point lead, 47-37. Midway through the final frame, clinging to a 52-45 lead, Haines went into their slow-down offense, passing the ball around their end of the court and not taking a shot for more than two minutes.

Finally forced to foul, the Chiefs battled back, slashing the lead to 53-51. With 21.2 seconds on the clock, Crager gathered a long offensive rebound and drained two free throws. Metlakatla’s Trinity Jackson answered with a clutch, corner 3, before Mark Davis’ two free throws sealed the 57-54 victory. Rolando finished with 14. Crager had 13 and Luke Davis had 11.

Mark Davis describes this year’s team as small, but fast. “It was really fun to be able to work together to get good, open shots against a big team like Met.” He said his team’s effort improved in the second game, “We did a much better job communicating match-ups and guarding the three-point line.”

David Strong came off the bench to provide a spark and contributed nine points on Monday. He agreed with Davis on the importance of communication. “As long as we improve our communication, we have potential to have a great season this year.”

In the interest of public health, the Glacier Bears are wearing masks while playing this year. I asked Mark Davis how that affected the game. He said, “Of course it’s easier to breathe without a mask, but playing with a mask is fine. When I was playing, I often forgot that I was even wearing one.”