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.
Freshman Shaelyn Mendoza hit a corner 3-pointer to beat Juneau-Douglas 52-51 at the buzzer Wednesday night. Mendoza’s three (her only points of the game) put the Lady Kings one win from a 6th straight Region V Championship. Kayhi trailed 48-44 with 1:21 left. Junior Madison Rose hit one of two free throws, the second was rebounded by sophomore Dyllan Borer who hit senior Ashley Huffine for a game-tying 3-pointer. Juneau senior Caitlin Pusich put the Bears back in front 50-48 with 29 seconds left, thanks to a foul call away from the ball. On the ensuing possession, Rose was fouled while setting an on-ball screen and hit the first of two free throws, pulling the Lady Kings to within 1. The Bears were able to run off 16 seconds before Sadie Tuckwood was fouled. Tuckwood sunk the first free-throw but missed the second. Rose collected the rebound and coach Kelly Smith called time out with 4.7 seconds left, setting up the dramatic shot by Mendoza after Huffine used a screen to streak the length of the court and find the freshman in the corner.
Kayhi will face Juneau again at 11:30 Friday morning for the Region V title.
Many people in American history have sung the national anthem. Whether it be for sports, for a holiday, or in honor of someone who has served our country. YouTube’s most viewed video of all time is Whitney Houston singing the Star Spangled Banner in 2012. Sophomore Josh Ryan sang the Star Spangled Banner before a Kayhi basketball game. “I wasn’t expecting much of an audience. I was prepared and I expected it to go decently,” said Ryan. “I didn’t expect it to feel so incredibly slow. Normally, the song is dragged out for as long as possible, but on average it is a minute and forty seconds long.” Ryan spoke about what he would do differently if he had the opportunity to sing in front of the audience again. “If I could go back and do it again, I would probably hold the microphone farther away, and used a little bit more technique so I could hear myself better,” said Ryan. “Also, I wouldn’t skip the second verse.” There are 80 words total to the song so it’s not a surprise when a verse is skipped. “I got nervous, I wasn’t able to hear myself, because the speakers were canceling out. It was like the perfect dead spot where I couldn’t hear anything that was coming out of me. So I was kind of getting my pitch by holding my fingers to my throat and feeling the vibrations,” Ryan says. “I was so nervous that I was going to get off key and be super out of tune. I was focusing on that more than the actual words.” As for advice for future performers, Ryan added on how confidence is key to performing well. “Be confident in yourself. You’ve got it! Just prepare and know it and you’re always going to be a little nervous. Try to do more with it. Stand where you can hear yourself.” .
Behind the goofy inside jokes, obnoxious cheers, and a passion for music, pep band does a lot more than just casually play their instruments, especially during regions. While the basketball teams, cheerleaders, and pep club get housed out in hotels or local Sitka volunteers, pep band is being thrown in a church/gym with a microwave for a kitchen. When preparing to travel, Ms. Nuss has to set very strict rules for her students, as there is a lot more free time given to the band on this trip compared to the annual jazz and music festivals. For example, they are expected to have 9-12 (or more) hours of study time, since everyone will be missing four days of school. Once we get to Sitka, the band is required to check in with a chaperone before they play with a pep band from another school, and they’re always advised to stick together in groups of three or more for safety purposes. Even when traveling on the ferry, groups of three is the rule of thumb, mostly when out on the deck. Playing in mass pep band is probably the biggest activity the band gets to participate in upon arriving to Sitka. All of the pep bands join together into one frankenstein band that can be extremely loud. This can be a great experience for the band kids, as they’ll not only meet new people with the same instrumentation as them, but they also get to read new music, try new cheers, share inside jokes (which keep them all together), and other fun social activities. For senior pep banders, they have the privilege of playing in the All Star pep band. Being their last year in high school, they get special treatment compared to lower classmen. This band is basically the ultimate band. Not in size, but definitely in experience. During the pep band’s free time, Ms. Nuss has offered them walks around Sitka to get them outdoors, especially after study time. When a pep band student claims they have no homework, Ms. Nuss suggests checking again, because she has access to everyone’s teachers, and is not afraid to contact them and ask if the student really doesn’t have anything to work on. An issue some students in pep band might encounter is making space for all the instruments in the Kayhi van when leaving for Sitka or coming back home. With roughly fifty kids traveling with the pep band, it can be tough to pack everything into the van, and on the ferry. This isn’t including the numerous percussion instruments, music books, and the chaperones’ luggage, as it is easier for them to monitor the students with both hands. As suggested, students should ask their parents for $20 per day they are traveling (example: if they are gone for five days, they need $100). If a student isn’t sure if they can handle their own money throughout the trip, they have the option of giving it to Ms. Nuss, who will monitor it for them. Another thing she will be watching out for is students eating/drinking enough, and what they choose to eat. There are several students who might be a concern for her, since some seem to know no limit to caffeine. The most important thing that all students attending regions should know is that they’re there to have fun. It doesn’t matter what rating the cheer team gets, or how many games we win or lose. It is important to make friends, stay active, eat healthy, don’t do drugs, use your toiletries, and for the love, shower. Everything the chaperones, teachers, and coaches tell you, it’s more often than not for your safety.
In the last two years, the Kayhi boys have had four chances to win the region championship. All four times Juneau-Douglas won on back to back nights and took home the nets. It’s now or never for Kayhi’s seniors. Senior Jake Taylor has been playing for the team all four years of high school and has seen Kayhi come so close too many times. “We gotta do it this year,” Taylor said. “ It’s my senior year, and I’m gonna be so mad if we don’t win this year, everything has lined up for us to win, and I’m sick and tired of watching us lose every year.” The Kings have been the favorites all season and have beat both Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain by 30 points this year. Senior Cody Kemble feels the pressure about winning regions. “I can feel the pressure this year more than ever,” Kemble said. “We’ve beaten Juneau and Thunder Mountain 3 times each already, and although that boosts my confidence, that puts more pressure on us to win the championship and come home with the net.” Though Kayhi has lopsided victories over Thunder Mountain and Juneau, both have a level of confidence as both beat Kayhi on their home floors. Kayhi lost their first games against Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas. Junior Kristian Pihl said that Kayhi wasn’t mentally ready in those games and believes it won’t happen again. “We came off too easy in those games,” Pihl said. ”We’re on neutral ground though now, no one holds the advantage in this game, so we’re gonna make sure we come out on fire against JD and Thunder Mountain.”
KNOW THE OPPONENT
Juneau Douglas (12-12, 3-5) Last Region Title: 2018 vs. Kayhi: 1-3 vs. other 4A teams: 5-11 Key Player: Cooper Kriegmont Watch out for: Phillip Gonzalez
Juneau Douglas beat Kayhi earlier this season so you can’t count them out. Kayhi needs to play tough defense and force Kriegmont to make a pass or a bad shot. Kayhi also needs to come out on fire, they can’t let JD get any leads in the first period.
Thunder Mountain (10-13, 3-5) Last Region Title: 2014 vs. Kayhi: 1-3 vs. other 4A teams: 8-12 Key Player: Bryson Echiverri Watch out for: Brady Carandang
Both Carandang and Echiverri are capable of catching fire from the three point line. Kayhi also has to watch out for Puna Toutaoilepo, 5’10” center that plays like he’s 6’3”.
Not everyone on the cheer team knows everything about the game, but we try. Here are five things you might not know about us.
Stunting is hard. You don’t realize how hard stunting is until you’re doing it. When we want to learn a new stunt, we search up “cool cheer stunts” on Youtube and a variety of things pop up. The coaches are then showed the video to determine if we are capable of doing it or not. Before trying it they show us the grip, tell everyone what they’re supposed to do and when, and get a whole bunch of spots around the stunt. Lauren is usually the one that steps right in and isn’t afraid of what could happen. Granted it usually doesn’t go as planned the first time, we keep doing it until we perfect it and is game ready. Our stunting usually gets more difficult for our routine, and often we show bits and pieces of it to the crowd during timeouts. The best part about that is they don’t even notice it and are still surprised when we do it in our routine.
We don’t choreograph our own routine. An all star cheer coach from Montana who professionally choreographs routines, comes to town. She teaches us what she had in mind and we make alterations as we see fit to make our team and routine better. When learning our routine we spend long hours at the gym over a span of three days. This year, we learned it during Clarke. So while you guys saw us smiling and cheering our hearts out on the sidelines for the boys and girls game, we had started the day at 8 a.m. and had been cheering ever since.
Standing on the sideline isn’t easy. We are constantly standing during cheer. We stand for an hour and a half or even longer with just a little break at half time. During time outs and in between quarters we have to go out on the floor, do our floor cheers or regions routine all while our backs and legs are secretly killing us. We get no rest, and I know this sounds ridiculous but seriously. Try standing for a whole basketball game and then having to go out there and stunt.
Cheering at Regions is different than cheering at any regular season game. The point of hometown games for us is to practice for regions and to make us better. It’s hard going out there for school song or starting five while trying to keep your nerves under control, and at regions it gets even worse. Everything is supposed to be better, this is what we’ve been preparing ourselves all year to go do. Our smiles should be bigger than before, our attitudes should be the best they’ve ever been, and our jumps are performances should be perfect.
Each night we… …do roughly 15 cheers a quarter. Each cheer has an average of 15 words. We repeat each cheer 3 times. That’s 675 words a quarter. There’s 4 quarters in a game so by the time we finish we have cheered about 2700 words per game, multiplied by two if both teams play, which brings us to over 5000 words – not including our floor cheers, the cheer we do in our regions routine or any other spontaneous words we shout out while cheering.
It’s weird to boo your dad. But sometimes he deserves it. When you’re in 8th grade sitting in pep club and he blows a call, it’s hard not to. I always know when he makes a bad call, because everyone tells me about it. “Tell Steven that he made a terrible call and that he sucks!” Yeah, sure I’ll tell my father that he sucks, I’m sure he’ll love that. Growing up, my friends would all look at me when my dad would make a call, like I blew the whistle. Sometimes I’d stick up for the call, and others I thought they were complete garbage. Booing your dad feels sort of wrong, but not really, it feels pretty good to let it all out with a relentless boo. One game he got booed pretty bad by the entire gym, and naturally I joined in. So after the game he asks me, “Did you boo me on that call?” I said, “Of course not! That was the right call.” My dad has been reffing far before I was born. He’s reffed at pretty much every region tournament, and been selected to a few state tournaments. Ever since the first time I started playing basketball, he has said how much he doesn’t want to ref me. I’ve always wondered why, until I got to high school. Officials in Ketchikan are pretty scarce. So occasionally he would have to ref a game or two that I was playing in. Sophomore year during Clarke I was looking forward to potentially getting some varsity playing time. That time came in the second quarter of the first game. The guy I was guarding shoots a three. What do I do? I lay him out, and guess who calls a foul on me? Steve Kemble. There is no way he should have the audacity to call a foul like that on me, the person who has stood by his side on every call, ever. Beginning of junior year for some reason we had Golden, CO come up for a weekend. Like why in the world did a team from Colorado come 2,000 miles to play a team that is 5’10” across the board? So the first game of the season I end up starting, which was a pretty big jump for me. The whole week my dad was complaining about having to ref the games. I told him it wasn’t that big of a deal. If only I had known how wrong I was. Typically when a father is officiating a son’s game, you’d expect him to be a little harder on his son, right? Well he took it a little too far. Kyle Smith fouled the Golden point guard in the backcourt during a press. Meanwhile, I was at half court. My dad goes up to the scorers table and reports the foul. “Foul is on white #13 with the hold.” I can hear my family in the balcony start to yell. I look down at my number and then up at the scoreboard. “Oh, I’m number 13…” So I sprint up to him and say, “Uh so was that foul on #13?” He sort of stared at me for a second, and then ran over to the scorers table to correct who the foul was on. He hasn’t reffed a game I’ve played in since.
This year Regions is being held in Sitka at Mount Edgecumbe High school. The significance of playing in Mount Edgecumbe’s gym is that it was converted from a WWII airplane hanger to a high school gym. In 1947 the air base was converted to a boarding school for rural kids in Alaska who didn’t have the opportunity for high school education in their village.
Senior Jake Taylor said he appreciates the history when playing at Mt. Edgecumbe.
“I get a new sense of appreciation when we travel to Edcumbe,” Taylor said. “I don’t think about it too much though, when it’s game time I’m only focusing on the game.”
Not only is the history of Mount Edgecumbe’s gym interesting, but the environment is. The gym has little insulation, so it tends to be super cold inside. The large gym has two courts inside. The amount of space behind each basket is different, which hinders a players depth perception when shooting.
Senior Kyle Smith enjoys playing in Edgecumbe but notices the difficulties about playing there.
“It’s definitely my favorite place for regions besides home,” Smith said. “I’ve noticed a few odd things, but nothing severe, but I’ve definitely noticed the depth perception change it throws off some of our shots.”
Even the lighting in the gym is odd depending on where you stand in the gym said senior Cody Kemble.
“When you’re shooting from either corner you get blinded,” Kemble said. “You can’t follow your shot or else you get blinded by the odd lighting in the gym.”
The Lady Kings look to extend their streak against Thunder Mountain to 23 games when they open on Tuesday at the Region V Tournament. Kayhi is the No. 2 seed and Thunder Mountain is No. 3. During the streak, Kayhi has outscored the Falcons 1116-718, defeating them by an average of 18.1 PPG. If the Lady Kings win on Tuesday they will go up against the No. 1 seed Juneau-Douglas. Kayhi has gone 1-3 against JD this season. While Kayhi is 1-3 in their last four regular season games against JD, they are 4-0 in their last Region V tournament games against the Bears. Kayhi has won five consecutive Region V titles dating back to 2014. Senior Payton Simmons is the only player that was on varsity for the 2016 title, and has a chance to finish her career with four titles. Simmons has been sidelined with a season-ending knee injury. “Finishing my career with a fourth region title would be amazing,” Simmons said. “We have been working really hard as a team the past four years I’ve been in high school for one goal, the region title. It’s a really cool feeling cutting the net down knowing all the hard work paid off.”
KNOW THE OPPONENT
Juneau Douglas (12-8, 4-2) Last Region Title: 2013 vs. Kayhi: 1-3 vs. other 4A teams 5-5 Key player: Caitlin Pusich Watch out for: Sadie Tuckwood
Although the Lady Kings went 1-3 against the Crimson Bears this season, their single win came in the game before regions. Kayhi can’t let senior Caitlin Pusich get going. In the games that Kayhi has lost to JD, Pusich has averaged 19 PPG, and in the game Kayhi won, Pusich was held to 5 points.
Thunder Mountain (8-14, 1-5) Last Region Title: none vs. Kayhi: 0-4 in conference, 0-6 including tournament games vs. other 4A teams 2-10 Key player: Nina Fenumia Watch out for: Charlee Lewis
Kayhi has owned Thunder Mountain for the past four seasons, going 22-0 against the Falcons. Their average margin of victory has been 18.1 PPG during the streak. The closest TMHS has came to beating Kayhi was six points and Kayhi’s largest margin of victory was 33 points.