Cristopher Carlson and Sully Schulz
Even the weather smiled upon the Kayhi Boys Basketball team and Cheer team during their return to Ketchikan on Sunday. Roughly 200 people showed up to the airport ferry terminal to congratulate the newly crowned Alaska state champions. Soon after, over 350 people were posted at birth 4 to celebrate victory at the end of a police escorted parade for the Kings.
It wasn’t just a great success for the teams, but it was also a success for the people of the community. People gathered together to watch and celebrate the Kings winning state. Kayhi Principal Bob Marshall received a text from parents of students asking him to stream the game and to have a parade in the team’s name.
“I received a text, the night the Kings won against Soldotna, asking if we could watch the championship game at Kayhi. So we sent out a mass text to students and parents saying that we were streaming the game in the Kayhi auditorium, so many people came to watch the Kings play,” Marshall said. “That Saturday night at least 150 Kayhi fans came to the auditorium to cheer for their home team. After we won the championship I recieved texts from Alma Parker and Matt Hamilton asking if we could have a parade, the two of them got everything coordinated and we had an amazing parade to welcome back and celebrate the Kings victory.”
It wasn’t just a great win for all the current basketball players but for Dave Mitchel, a Kayhi basketball alumni and current Kayhi teacher. Mitchel spoke on what the win means to an alumni.
“Playing basketball for four years, it was difficult to reach that last game and win, and they did just that,” Mitchel said. “When you’ve played for Kayhi for four years you hope every year that they win, and to see them do it means a whole lot to me and other Kayhi alumni throughout history.”
Not only did the basketball team win a state title the cheer squad also won their first state title in 9 years. Kayhi cheer alumni and current Kayhi teacher Jennifer Karlik was extremely proud of the team and the coaches.
“It’s fantastic, I’m very very impressed with them,” Karlik said. “It means a lot to see the progression, being from a cheer team prospective it is really hard to remember all of these routines. I coached cheer before and it is extremely hard, so I am proud of the coaches especially.”
Senior Cheer Captain Jenna Miller went into the state competition with confidence but was still surprised when she heard the announcers call them the state champions.
“Even though we all knew we had a pretty good chance at winning I was still in shock,” said Miller. “Kayhi Cheer hasn’t won state in 9 years and we’ve been through so much this year it was unbelievable, we just went out there and performed to the best of our abilities”.
It had been 45 years since the Kings basketball team had won a state title, and that championship banner hung over their heads, everyday as they practiced.
“1974. That was the last time Kayhi had ever brought a state title home. They advanced to the championship game in 1976 and never went back,” said Kayhi basketball head coach Eric Stockhausen.
Going into the tournament Kayhi was seeded surprisingly low at 8th out of 8 teams. On being the 8th seed Coach Stockhausen said “Being from the southeast conference it put us at 8th. But we knew we weren’t the 8th best team in the tournament. That was part of our motivation to go out prove to everybody ‘We’re better than you think.’’’
The Kayhi team with 8 returning seniors had put everything they could into this championship run. “I don’t know if this is the best team we’ve ever had, but it was the team that wanted it most, that knew what we had to do as a team,” said Stockhausen. “Anything I asked them to do, they did, unselfishly, and tried to do anything they could to help win. A lot of times ego could get in the way and this group never let ego get in the way, and well, the results are history now.”
Tarrant Sasser Contributed