Category Archives: Basketball

Where it All Started

Nadire Zhuta
Staff Editor

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)

Day 2 of 1A Region Basketball

Staff Reports

Boys 1A Basketball 
Willis Washington scored 20 points to lead Hydaburg to a 55-38  semi-final victory over Klawock. Klawock’s Nevan Yockey scored 20 points in the loss. 

Thorne Bay jumped out to a 34-5 halftime lead and cruised to a 52-38 win over Kake. All 11 of the Wolverines players scored. 

Thorne Bay and Hydaburg will face off tonight in the championship game tonight at 6. 

Girls 1A Basketball
Kake’s Courtney James and Willow Jackson combined for 36 of Kake’s 56-27 win over Skagway. 

Klawock topped Angoon 60-36, Taya Marvin put up 28 points for Klawock. 

Klawock and Kake will play in the championship game tonight at 7:45. 

Other Game Scores
Skagway 52 vs Gustavus 40
Angoon 62 vs Yakutat 21
Skagway 59 vs Hoonah 25

Thorne Bay 25 vs Yakutat 19

Top seeds advance in 1A Tournament

Players warm up before the second day of games at the Region V 1A basketball tournament

Sterling Nagy
Staff Writer

The top-seeded Thorne Bay Wolverines crushed Yakutat 71-21 in their first round game of the 1A Region Tournament yesterday.  It was Yakutat’s second game of the day, their first being a 17-point win against Hoonah in the 8 a.m. contest. 

On the girls’ side, Angoon defeated Hoonah 48-32 and will play No. 1 Klawock Chieftains later today.

Hydaburg 70 vs Angoon 33
Klawock 57 vs Gustavus 36
Kake 41 vs Skagway 34
Yakutat 47 vs Hoonah 30

Skagway 47 vs Thorne Bay 26
Kake 64 vs Yakutat 34

Lady Kings Split w/ Lady Bears

Tyler Slick
Staff Writer 

The Lady Kings (4-4) split the weekend against the Lady Bears (7-1). The girls had a 41-38 loss on Friday and a 44-37 win on Saturday.

Senior Captain Nadire Zhuta said that this weekend went well but it was tough losing on Friday night. 

“Pink Night had very good energy in the building. We ended up losing by three points which was a tough pill to swallow especially since we cut it down from a 14 point game. At one point of the game we were up 38-37 with a couple seconds left then we fouled and they made their free throws,” said Zhuta.

Zhuta said the weekend was a good way to end the season and head into Regions.

“I feel good, we got a win on Saturday night which is always nice, it’s definitely a confidence booster heading into the Region Tournament,” said Zhuta.

Kings Drop Two Games in Juneau

Nadire Zhuta
Staff Editor

Pictured is Kristian Pihl shooting a three pointer against Thunder Mountain earlier this season.

The Kings varsity basketball team lost both games against Juneau Douglas this past weekend. On Friday night the Kings dropped a close game of 55-54 and on Saturday night the Kings lost 75-68. 

The Kings losing to the Bears twice this weekend put the Thunder Mountain Falcons as the No. 1 seeded team in the Region V tournament, meaning that the Kings will have to play Tuesday night against the Bears at the tournament next week. 

Senior Kristian Pihl said the Kings two losses this weekend came from them not working together and that having the No. 1 seed taken away from them shouldn’t be a factor of them winning regions or not. 

“We did not play well nor did we play as a team, which resulted in two losses,” said Pihl. “Having the No. 1 seed at the Region tournament is a much easier path but I feel like it shouldn’t affect us, teams have won [Regions] before without being No. 1 seed and teams have lost being No. 1 seed.” 

Annual Pink Night

Noelani Tillson
Staff Writer 

The Lady Kings basketball team will be hosting their annual Pink Night on Friday night against Juneau Douglas.

Players sold Pink Night t-shirts as well as gathered donations for the Lady Kings Court of Honor to remember those who lost their lives or have battled cancer. 

“Being 10 years cancer-free and a breast cancer survivor, the continuation of this fundraiser is heartwarming.” said Fast Track coordinator Lori Ortiz. 

Head coach Kelly Smith said he tries to really make Pink Night big- from pink bows to pink uniforms.

“We try to fill the room with pink and truly honor the people battling,” said Smith. “This fundraiser keeps basketball in perspective, there are a lot bigger things than high school basketball. You can’t find a family in America that isn’t affected by cancer. It keeps kids in touch with reality. To really give back.”

From pink uniforms to pink shoes the Lady Kings continue to spread awareness. 

“I know there was a push in basketball around the country to just bring awareness as well as there were moms of the girls on the team battling which made it a really fitting thing to incorporate,” said Smith. 

Teaching these young athletes to give back while doing something they love is a perfect combination. While the girls on the court wear pink, to Pep Club and fans in the stands as well. 

Lady Kings Face off Against Lady Bears

Pictured is sophomore Paige Boehlert playing defense against Eagle River guard in the 2019 CCCC tournament

Tyler Slick
Staff Writer 

Lady Kings (3-3) will be hosting the Lady Bears (6-0) in the Clark Cochrane Gymnasium. The Lady Kings faced the Lady Bears earlier this year in Juneau and dropped both games. On the first night the Lady Kings lost a close game of 51-46 and on the second night they lost 66-40.  

Saturday is senior night and Kayhi has three seniors, Nadire Zhuta, Lianne Gueverra, and Madison Rose. The Kings will also be giving a shout out to the Lady Bears seniors. 

Senior Nadire Zhuta says she is excited for the weekend and thinks the gym will have good energy for the girls. 

“I’m excited,” said Zhuta. “Last home games, we have Pink night on Friday which represents so much more than basketball and then senior night on Saturday. It should be a good weekend with good energy in the gym.”

Kings Head to Juneau Douglas

Nadire Zhuta
Staff Editor

The Kings (4-2) are headed to Juneau to play the Bears (0-4) this upcoming weekend for their last conference games before Regions. The Kings swept the Bears at home and are headed to Juneau looking for two wins to claim the number one seed at the Region V tournament. 

Senior Kristian Pihl said this weekend is a win win situation for the Kings whether they win or lose in JD this weekend.

“I feel good about this weekend, this is almost a perfect scenario for us,” said Pihl. “We’ll be able to get a good feel in the gym where Regions is held and we’re either hungry from a loss or we’re the number 1 seed and we’re feeling good about ourselves.”

Lady Kings Split with Lady Falcons

Dyllan Borer
Staff Writer 

The Lady Kings (3-3) went 1-1 against the Falcons (1-5) this weekend in Juneau. The Lady Kings beat them twice when they played in Ketchikan earlier in the season. 

The Lady Kings lost on Friday night 48-44, ending their 25 game winning streak against the Falcons. They haven’t lost a game against them since 2015. They ended up winning Saturday night 45-38, with sophomore Shaelyn Mendoza leading the Lady King’s with 17 points. 

Senior Captain Nadire Zhuta said they had to make adjustments after Friday nights game, being more patient with the ball on the offensive side and more aggressive on the defensive side. 

“On Saturday night I felt that we communicated better and that we were more patient with the ball,” said Zhuta.“On the defensive side we were working and flying around for rebounds and loose balls.”

The Lady Kings will face Juneau Douglas this weekend for their last home games of the season. 

Kings Split with Falcons, Again

Pictured is senior Chris Lee shooting a free throw against the Falcons

Nadire Zhuta
Staff Editor

The Kings (4-2) went 1-1 this weekend with the Falcons (4-2). The Kings also split with the Falcons earlier this season at Juneau.

On Friday night, senior Chris Lee scored 22 points passing Steve Ortiz (1,788) in being the all-time leading scorer in Kayhi history but that wasn’t enough to secure the Kings a win. The Kings ended up losing by one point 47-46 but came back Saturday night and beat the Falcons 51-46.

Senior Kristian Pihl is frustrated with himself for losing the 19 home game winning streak that was started last year at the Kings’ fourth home game. 

“I feel very disappointed in myself, we had an amazing opportunity to have the seniors leave with 19 straight home wins,” said Pihl. “But I mean I rather have that bad game now than in March.”