It’s not about validation. It’s about each other. We’re six time region champs, and all I can think about is my family. Not the blood related family that I left behind in order to go to this tournament, but the players on my team that got me here in the first place. The medal around my neck is supposed to symbolize winning, but that’s not quite right. If I left it behind, It would mean nothing to me. It’s just a thing. Being called winners will never be as important to me than the names of the people who built me up to get there. No trophy has ran to my side to pick me back up after a hard crash to the floor, like Lianne Guevarra. Eager and quick to put me back on my feet. It certainly doesn’t make me laugh or grow a sense of humor like Emmie Smith taught me. Or bring me comfort and understanding like Payton Simmons. It most definitely didn’t sacrifice their body for the game and give selflessly to others by constantly playing hard, which Ashley Huffine does each and every time. It doesn’t take care of me and play the role of a mother figure like Nadire Zhuta does each trip. It didn’t make sure I was involved and encouraged when I was feeling down like Jenae Rhoads did. It won’t impact the game like Shaelyn Mendoza, freshmen starter, smallest on the team with a big role. Everyone is important and has an impact not just on the score at the end of the game, but on me. Because they are the ones selflessly showing up to practice every single day to get beat up and yelled at, only to sit on the bench. Cheering on the team with real passion and joy. These people mean more to me than a basketball region title. The connection and relationships made through the adversity and sacrifice have more significant value to me than a piece of rope cut down from a hoop, or a plastic award mantled to a block of wood to be placed inside a trophy case.
The Lady Kings have always been focused on one game at a time. After upsetting Juneau-Douglas twice to win a 6th straight Region V championship, the focus now shifts to a more daunting task – defending state champ Dimond.
The Lady Lynx (22-2) are led by 3-time Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year Alissa Pili, who will play at USC next season. She scored 22 points and had 20 rebounds in last year’s state title win over Wasilla and has terrorized opponents from every spot on the floor this season.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
After an 0-3 start to the season against Wasilla (No. 6 seed in state tournament) No. 2 West Valley and No. 5 West Anchorage, the Lady Kings showed resilience and the type of grit one would expect from an underdog. Kayhi knows what to expect from the best in the state and is peaking at the right time. While the Lady Lynx are formidable, they aren’t invincible, just ask 3A foe Anchorage Christian who beat Dimond 71-59 in February at Dimond’s own tournament by using a smaller, gritty guard to defend Pili rather than a traditional center.
The last time Kayhi played the underdog against a Pili-led Dimond team at state, senior Ashley Huffine was a freshman…at Klawock high school.
The Lady Kings battled the favored Lynx and trailed by 2 with less than four minutes remaining when senior Eliah Anderson was undercut after stealing a pass. She chipped a tooth on the floor and was on the sideline as then-freshman Payton Simmons hit one of two free-throws as her sub to cut the lead to 1.
Dimond went on to win and finish second to Wasilla in the state championship. Kayhi then beat West Valley, who was led by current University of Oregon stand-out Ruthy Hebard, for 3rd place.
The Lady Kings will take on Dimond Thursday at 8 a.m.
After a clean sweep in the Region V tournament last week, Kayhi (19-8) boys will travel to Anchorage to participate in the state basketball tournament. Junior Kristian Pihl has been dreaming of winning a region title since freshman year. “This year I told myself that we absolutely had to win regions,” Pihl said. “It’s so relieving going to state this year after last years upset, we definitely deserve it and I’m looking forward to tearing it up with the team up there.” Kayhi received No. 8 seed at the tournament and play No. 1 seed East Anchorage High School (24-4) in the first round of the state tournament. Kayhi has played East High twice this season losing to them once in an exhibition before the O’Brady’s Tournament and once in the O’Brady’s tournament. Kings senior Jake Taylor knows Kayhi stands a chance against East Anchorage in the first round. “The seeding at state this year was definitely not in our favor,” Taylor said. “But that’s not gonna stop us, we’ve played East before and we’ve managed to maintain an even game all the way until half. If we wanna win we’re push through that second half, beating East is definitely possible, no one has a secured place already in state.”
Key to the Tourney: Focus. In the region championship game, Kayhi allowed JD to come back from a 16 point deficit. If Kayhi wants to get through the first game against East, they need to focus on maintaining a lead in second half. Kayhi needs to play defense all four quarters and force East Anchorage to take bad shots.
The Kayhi boys soccer teams season is in full swing. Last year, the team went 7-10, beating JD (1-3) and TM (4-0). Senior Mark Jasper has been working on his game in the offseason, going to Sunday drop-ins at the recreation center, highschool drop-ins, and is in the indoor KYSL soccer league. “It’s different than other sports because you always have to be working on your touches,” said Jasper. Many Kayhi students go to drop-ins or go to the field with other team members to work on their skills. Senior Jake Taylor is one of the many students who depend on other activities to keep them in shape. “For me personally, I try and just count on basketball to keep me in shape for soccer,” said Taylor. “I don’t do much to prepare other than that because basketball keeps me busy.” The Kings lost many valuable players over the offseason. Junior Sullivan Schulz mentioned Dawson Daniels, Izaak Jensen, and Henning Pankow as some of the more valued players that the team lost. Nevertheless, he believes that the seniors will step up and fill those holes. “We have lost a ton of seniors that were valuable last year,” said Schulz. “Still, I think that our offense will be killer this year. Mark, Brayden, and Jake should step up and fill those holes.” Because Thunder Mountain didn’t lose any seniors, they should be much more of a threat then they were last year. It may not be as easy to go 4-0 against them. “I think TM is going to be a threat this year. They lost no seniors, and we are basically playing with a new team,” said Schulz. “ We only get a month to play together until our first game against TM, so hopefully we can play well.” Brayden Linne believes it may be difficult to beat rival Juneau Douglas because of the loss of seniors. Still, he and the rest of the team remain hopeful for the upcoming season. “I think it’s gonna be a lot harder with all the seniors gone,” said Linne. “But our team is young, and can hopefully learn what they need by the end of the year.” Taylor said that with a new varsity team, there will be plenty of new members that bring different strengths to the team. With Tim Cook back at goalie, it will make playing JD an interesting matchup. “We are trying to get a lot of people to play this year so that we will have lots of strengths,” said Taylor. “I think we have a good chance to beat or at least compete with Juneau this year.” During the offseason, co head coach Juan Robles has seen significant work put into the game by his players, with many kids in other soccer leagues to improve their skills. “We’ve been busy playing along with city league, and a lot of the younger kids got to be apart of the timber club team,” said Robles. “I have already noticed a lot of maturity in players since last year which is exciting for any coach to see.” Coach Robles is excited for this upcoming season, and is looking forward to all the new faces. “I am honestly just looking forward to getting out there and playing,” said Robles. “We have a great group of kids and a lot of new faces which is going to be a lot of fun.” The Kings first game is April 3rd in Juneau.
The Kayhi track team has had a week of full practice into this years season. The Kings have been training hard in the offseason, running through the Kayhi halls, ad hitting the field every other day. Coming off their first region title in 20 years (beating Thunder Mountain by 1 point), the Kings are eager to get after it again, but repeating will be difficult. Head coach Alex Pennino expects big things from senior Brendan Wong, the former region champion. “Wong was a region champion at the shot put, and placed in the discus,” said Pennino. “I think we are going to see a strong season out of him.” Pennino also is also expecting a breakout season from senior Justice Yoder, who put up big points for the Kings in the regional tournament last year. “He is pretty raw. Hopefully this year he will get more throws in and perfect his form,” said Pennino. “He should be a force to be reckoned with.” Coach Pennino has had teams that were much more talented than the one he had last year. Nevertheless, they were able to pull off the win against TM. He said that the team will need to find new runners if they want to be competitive again this year. “We didn’t really have any outstanding athletes, I had no idea how we would do at regions,” said Pennino. “Everyone just pulled together and we did very well, and ultimately came out on top.” Brendan wong has put hard work into increasing his distance in the shot put and disc throw, and is excited to see how he will do in the first meet. “In my opinion, the first meet will set the tone for the rest of the season for me,” said Wong. “I am really excited for this season.” Crist Carlson, a region champion last year, is hoping to shave 2 seconds off of his 110m hurdle. He is hopeful that the team can win back to back region titles. Because some valuable seniors have graduated, it will make regions more challenging. “I think my chances to win regions back to back are very high,” said Carlson. “I am hopeful that we can win regions back to back, but it will be a tough battle against TM.”
Girls Track The girls track teamplaced 2ndoverall at regions last year. Junior Ashley Cyr has been working hard in the offseason to prepare for the season. “I definitely think I will improve this year because I have been running on my own,” said Cyr. “I have also worked hard on eating much healthier and stretching often.” Sophomore Rachel Knight, who competed at state last year in the 400 meter dash, is feeling the pressure this year because of her past accomplishments. “I believe that I can reach the goals I have set to get myself to state this year,” said Knight. “However, I know this year there will be more competition which will make this goal harder to accomplish.” The Kings first track meet is April 19-20 at home.
Coaches: Laura Kinunan – Long distance coach. Alex Pennino (Head Coach) – Sprinting and mid distance. Michael Rhoads: Throwing Rick Shaner: Hurdles Shelly Tradel : Jumping
Courtney Kemble graduated from Ketchikan High School almost 4 years ago in 2016. Kemble played basketball for the Lady Kings all of her four years at Kayhi. In her junior year, her team started the current streak of 6 consecutive region titles. After high school, she then accepted a scholarship to play basketball for Centralia College in Washington. Kemble spoke about how she wanted a transition between high school and a 4 year school. “I think that coming from such a small town and school, I wasn’t ready to jump into a huge school,” said Kemble. “I wanted an easier adjustment from my high school life to my college life.” Kemble also noted how basketball played a role in her decision after high school. “I knew I would play basketball right away at a community college,” said Kemble. “This sounded better than going to a 4 year and possibly having to redshirt or sit on the bench for a couple of years.” Kemble chose Centralia because of the small town feel. “It felt like home,” said Kemble. “Every game day, the whole town would pack into the gym to cheer on the boys and girls basketball teams and it reminded me a lot of Kayhi.” In Kemble’s freshman season, she averaged 19 minutes and 4.93 points a game, while in her sophomore season she averaged 28.8 minutes and 8 points per game. Kemble spoke about the differences between college and high school basketball. “It was a lot different than what I expected,” said Kemble. “Coach Smith’s practices were a lot harder in high school. In college, it’s expected that you put in work on your own time.” Kemble also noted the difference in traveling for games from high school and college. “In college, It’s a lot of driving to the places we were going to play, instead of flying and staying for a whole weekend like in high school,” said Kemble. “Coming from an island, it was something I wasn’t really used too.” During Kembles two years at Centralia, she received her associates degree in Biology. After Centralia, Kemble transferred to Washington State University and became a Cougar. Washington State is a 4 year college that is located in Pullman, Washington and has a little less than 30,000 students enrolled. “I knew basketball was over for me after Centralia, but I still wanted to find a school that gave me a small town feel,” said Kemble. “Surprisingly enough, WSU was exactly what I was looking for. I stepped onto campus during a football game last fall and fell in love with the family feel.” Though Kemble got her associates degree in Biology at Centralia, she is now studying accounting at WSU. “At first, I thought I wanted to go unto the medical field,” said Kemble. “After taking a business elective class, I realized that I loved trying to find the business side of things. After taking an accounting class, I found that I really like figuring out problems and numbers.” Kemble stated how much she has enjoyed her time so far at WSU. “I love it. I’ve met some of the best people here and can’t imagine my life without them in it,” said Kemble. “Pullman is a super special place!”
The Lady Kings are 4-9 against the Crimson Bears over the past three seasons. It hasn’t mattered. Kayhi won it’s 6th-straight tournament game over Juneau-Douglas to claim its 6th straight Region V Championship Friday in a 47-43 thriller. The Lady Kings trailed 17-11 at the end of the first, cut it to 23-20 at the half and took a 5-point lead into the 4th quarter.