Last postseason was big for clutch moments, especially 3-pointers late in games. But not all the big moments have come on the basketball court.
#1 Shaelyn Mendoza buzzer-beater
The situation 2019 Region Championship Juneau Douglas 51 Kayhi 49 4.7 seconds left.
The moment The No. 2 seeded Lady Kings beat Thunder Mountain on the first day of the tournament to set up a match with the Lady Bears. Kayhi was just 1-3 against JD during the regular season and was trying to pull the upset.
Madison Rose inbounded the ball to Ashley Huffine. Huffine went coast to coast then kicked it out to freshman Shaelyn Mendoza. Mendoza sank the corner 3 to send the Lady Kings to the championship.
#2 Kristian Pihl 3 in overtime
The situation State Championship Dimond 50 Kayhi 50 46 seconds left in overtime
The moment Junior Kristian Pihl was one of Kayhi’s offensive threats and was 0-6 from the 3 point line. Pihl drained a three with 46 seconds left to go in overtime and it ended up being his only points of the game. It changed the momentum of the game and Kayhi won 57-53.
#3 Payton Simmons walk off at state
The situation 2018 State Tournament Semi-Finals Thunder Mountain 6 Kayhi 5 7th inning 2 outs 0-2 count
The moment Kayhi beat Homer the first day of the state tournament, then played North Pole on day two and won. Kayhi played Thunder Mountain on day three of the tournament in the semi finals. Kayhi was 1-3 against Thunder Mountain in conference play. Bottom of the seventh and Junior Payton Simmons took the first two strikes looking with the game on the line. Simmons sent the next pitch over the left field fence putting the kings up one to win the game.
Other Clutch Moments
Sully Schulz regions
The situation Region Wrestling Tournament Region Finals Match Ketchikan vs. Juneau for the Region V Title If Schulz gets pinned, the streak likely ends.
The moment Senior Sully Schulz was seeded No. 1 in the 171 weight class. Schulz was (0-7) against Juneau wrestlers. A reversal by Schulz with 30 seconds left puts him ahead and his opponent on his back. He then pinned him in the first period with 7 seconds left which allowed Kayhi to win its 12th consecutive region title and ending his losing streak against Juneau wrestlers.
Mark Jasper penalty kick at state
The situation State 3rd place championship Kayhi 5 Thunder Mountain 4 Penalty kick shootout
The moment Senior Mark Jasper approaches the line to take his shot. A miss by Jasper puts Thunder Mountain in a good spot to tie the game. A goal will win it for the Kings. Jasper approaches the ball points his toe down and sinks it in the bottom left corner of the net.
It is no surprise that Kayhi students and the Ketchikan community would rather have the Region V Tournament at home but when it is not at home a majority of the students prefer to have the tournament in Sitka over Juneau. Maybe it’s the rivalry, maybe it’s the convenience.
“Everything is so close,” said Pep Band member Jalina Williams. “You can just walk over the bridge and you’re downtown. Everything is there, so it is easy access.”
According to Google Maps, Juneau-Douglas High School is 7.3 miles from the Breeze In Valley location which is one of the premier food destinations for traveling students, whereas Mt. Edgecombe High School is just 1.2 miles from downtown. Even if the weather is good, there’s no chance you’re walking 7.3 miles from the high school to the valley in Juneau.
Safeway, The Landing, My Place Hotel and A&P are all within a mile of Kayhi.
In addition to the games themselves, other difficulties arise when the Region Tournament is hosted in Sitka or Juneau. When the dance team has its adjudications at Thunder Mountain, supporters have to travel 8.7 miles from the JD gym to support their classmates. In Sitka, it’s a 2-mile trip.
For the Pep Band, Pep Club and Cheerleaders different gyms mean different sound waves. Williams said depending on the gym space and height, how the sound travels to people is different.
“It’s louder in Edgecumbe because it is a way bigger space and it’s a echo gym,” said Williams. “Then with JD it is loud as well but it is more constricting in a sense because everyone is on the balcony and the sound just travels differently to people.”
Junior Tyler Slick said every gym has different floors and lighting.
“Our floor is clean and our lighting is very bright and nice,” said Slick. “Edgecumbes’ floor is nice and clean but their lighting isn’t very bright it’s dim and the Juneau floor is really slippery and the lighting is very dim and yellowish.”
Senior Kristian Pihl has been to all three locations and said that Ketchikan has the best environment and that Kayhi students and Ketchikan members make it exciting and fun but if he had to choose between Edgecumbe and Juneau he would have to choose Edgecumbe because “it’s a neutral environment.”
“Ketchikan has a better environment because we just put more time and money into basketball as a community,” said Pihl. “The community and students like to watch basketball and just create an environment that’s so much fun to play in.”
Winning Region championships is only a recent habit for the Lady Kings. Juneau has dominated the Region with 22 Region titles since 1984. Kayhi has only 12. Since 2014, Kayhi has reversed that trend and has won six straight Region titles, one shy of Juneau’s streak of seven consecutive from 2002-2008. It all started with a core of underdogs that changed the culture for the Lady Kings.
Catching up with the Starters The point guard was Charley Edwardson. She was the “floor general” of the team and was “unpressable” according to coach Kelly Smith. She would always get the ball down the court and make sure her players were where they needed to be.
Edwardson coached the Lady Kings JV/C team in 2018. She is now focused on herself and her studies.
Eliah Anderson was a dominant forward, a crafty player, and an impact player. She attacked the basket and finished very well. By the end of her senior year Anderson surpassed the 1000-point mark.
Anderson is currently a senior at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan studying psychology, neuroscience and french. Her career goals are to pursue a PhD in School Psychology with a specialization in neuropsychology.
Anderson’s goals in her high school days were to go and play college basketball but could not because of a herniated disc in her back. She has since had back surgery but unfortunately her days of competitive sports are over. She hopes to maybe coach one day but right now is focused on her studies.
What Anderson misses most about playing basketball is the environment that Kayhi and the community brought.
“I miss playing in such a supportive atmosphere. I don’t think there is any other place in Alaska or even the country that supports girls basketball like Kayhi does. The pep band, pep club, cheerleaders, highlights, fans, [they] all contribute to make it a truly magical environment,” said Anderson. “It was special to be a part of and it is special to go back at Christmas and watch the traditions continue.”
A.J Dela Cruz was a year younger than the other four starters and became the important bridge between the core of four that started the streak, and the future that continued it. She was the shooter/backup point guard. Dela Cruz was confident with the ball, gave the team a second ball handler but everyone knew she could shoot the ball, she was quick and had a shot both outside of the three point line and a couple feet inside.
Dela Cruz is a junior at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. and is majoring in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience. Dela Cruz ended up being the only one of these five starters to cut down the net all four years of high school.
“I don’t think there are any words adequate enough to describe what it’s like to win a Region V title. After the first one, you just want to keep it going, especially at home,” said Dela Cruz. “That feeling of cutting down the net really never gets old.”
Lexi Biggerstaff was a dynamic forward, she worked both inside and outside the paint. She attacked the basket very well just like Anderson and it was hard for her defender to guard her.
She is currently a senior at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington where she plans on graduating college in the spring of 2020 with a degree in Communications (Concentration Media in Society).
After high school she continued her basketball career for two years at Everett Community College and finished her last two years of college basketball at Northwest University.
Biggerstaff said what made this group of five girls so special was how close they were prior to high school and their common mind frame and goals.
“We had a tight bond, because we played, traveled and trained with each other for years before high school even began. We understood what it took to make it how far we did. We had resilience and a lot of exposure to how much effort and hard work it takes,” said Biggerstaff “We all had one goal. We were a family.”
Courtney Kemble was the voice and rock of this group, the “hypeman” according to Dela Cruz. She played the post, but stretched defenses with her 3-point shot. Her clutch free throws in overtime against Thunder Mountain helped deliver the second-straight title for the Lady Kings in 2015.
Kemble is currently a senior at Washington State which is located in Pullman, Washington. studying accounting. She plans on graduating in December 2020.
After high school Kemble continued her basketball career at Centralia College for two years then decided to focus on her studies and transferred to Washington State.
Kemble said that it was easy playing for the girls next to her because of the hard work they had put into it.
“We spent so much time working hard together, it was easy to play for the girl next to you. She had gone through the same stuff you had.”
No one believed that this group could have won regions especially as young as they were when they did.
“Everyone said it was going to be Thunder Mountain, and that a bunch of sophomores were not going to stop them,” said Kemble. “After that win, we set the expectation to keep winning. We had to work hard to keep the standards high.”
After this core five group graduated everyone had their doubts about the Lady Kings program but Kemble and her crew knew that the Lady Kings program would be just fine.
“When we left, I know a lot of people had their doubts,” said Kemble. “I can speak for all of us seniors, we never did.”
Advice to younger girls “Focus on supporting one another on and off the court. Everyone has an equally valuable role on the team and true greatness is achieved when everyone does their job and helps bring out the best in their teammates. The scoreboard doesn’t measure heart and teamwork so no matter the outcome, you guys should be proud of continuing the legacy of Lady Kings basketball.” – Eliah Anderson
“Honestly, work hard, trust each other, and have some fun. There’s going to be distractions and people are going to talk, but none of that should matter when you step onto the court.” – A.J. Dela Cruz.
“The best advice I could give to you is do the dirty work. Get in the gym more than anyone else, because inch by inch it’ll pay off in your individual game, your team and in life. Push through, be gritty and keep going even if your mind says to stop.” – Lexi Biggerstaff
“Play together and for each other. Don’t let the pressure get to you. Have fun, and work as hard as you can. You’re going to miss this, so take it all in.” – Courtney Kemble
Lady Kings Region titles by year (1985,1993, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)
Coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is catching the eyes of the media as it makes its way to infecting over 90,000 people in just three months. The “blueprint priority virus” has dominated headlines around the globe, and for good reason.
Long time Ketchikan residents and safety officials weighed in on the topic, many of whom directed their concern, or lack of, towards the upcoming cruise ship season.
Steve Corporon, the port and harbors director in Ketchikan and a member of the local emergency planning committee, said during an interview for KTVA last Wednesday that the coronavirus will be treated much like any other virus or disease with a potential to infect Ketchiikan via cruise ship travel.
“It’s not always guaranteed that ships are going to be coming, whether it be weather, or global events or medical global events. We’re always keeping an eye on things and that’s why we always have these contingency plans to follow,” said Corporon
With the cruise ship season less than two months away, concern regarding Ketchikan’s passenger count are beginning to arise throughout the community.
Corporon is predicting a rise in the expected number.
“If things stay about where they are now, actually, our passenger count is probably going to go up as a result of this as opposed to going down as some of the lines are looking to pull ships out of the Asian market and are looking for places to put them this season,” he said. COVID-19 has proven to be more contagious than the 2003 Severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, widely known as SARS.
Despite its severe contagious nature, experts estimate the mortality rate between 1% and 3.3%. Among the victims are those with weak immune and respiratory systems, such as elderly persons.
While a risk still exists, this is not the first virus or disease that has sent the entire world into panic. In 2015 we were faced with Ebola, followed by the Zika virus in 2017.
The reason this mildy deadly disease is striking fear into the minds of millions is partly due to its mild nature. This is nothing new to Ketchikan and the cruise industry, as ships bring mild viruses and diseases each year.
Local business owner and long time Ketchikan resident John Malouf has experienced multiple virus encounters during his years as a tour operator.
During a meeting with fellow tour operators Sunday, he explained how his company manages these types of situations.
“Will the coronavirus come here? Who knows. I certainly don’t,” said Malouf. “I plan on following the same procedures we have in place for red flag ships, when they come into port.”
These procedures involve sanitizing hand rails and seats aboard the tour vehicles up to five times a day, he added.
“While it can be a pain in the butt, it’s important to keep not only future guests safe, but also my employees,” he said. “It’s hard to tell how this will affect the 2020 season, but it’s never a bad idea to proactively prepare for the worst case scenario.”
The potential effect of the virus is not the only worry among Ketchikan residents and business owners. Rod Thomas, owner and operator of Alaska Sportfishing Adventures, has already experienced what the virus can and will do to business.
“When you hear about this virus, whatever they are calling it now, all anybody worries about is the upcoming tourism season. What many people fail to mention or realize is that the virus has already affected one of Ketchikan’s largest industries, our dive fisheries,” he said.
The dive fishery experienced a premature closure this winter as the Chinese markets closed and denied the sale of geoduck clams shortly after the virus made headlines.
John Malouf, who is a commercial diver in the winter and a tour operator in the summer, also mentioned the effect the virus had on the dive fishery
“The market just shut down, and that was it. It went from a short two week closure to a full on shut down in a matter of days,” he said.
China is the largest buyer and market distributor of geoducks in the world, buying tens of thousands of pounds each week from local divers.
“It was a surprise for sure, being that divers had at least another month left to harvest,” Thomas said. “If I had to guess, I would say that the worst of it is yet to come, but to say that we should cancel the season, or take extreme precautions would be jumping the gun at this point.”