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High School Sports

March Madness, Alaska style: No. 8 Ketchikan rallies past No. 1 East T-birds

  • Author: Joey Carreon
  • Updated: March 22
  • Published March 21

East's 6-foot-11 Andrew Graves and Ketchikan's 5-11 Chris Lee battle for a rebound during the Kings' 60-58 upset victory Thursday at the Class 4A state basketball tournament. (Bill Roth / ADN)

In true March Madness fashion, the No. 8 Ketchikan Kings rallied from an 18-point deficit against the top-seeded East Thunderbirds in a 60-58 first-round upset at the Class 4A boys basketball tournament.

After clawing back from their big deficit in the first half, the Kings maintained their poise and sealed their win at the free throw line, where they converted on 22 of 28 attempts in the second half. They were 23 of 30 from the line for the game.

“Our kids are really tight-knit. They believe in what we’re doing and I just couldn’t be more proud,” Ketchikan coach Eric Stockhausen said, fighting back tears. “It took a lot of guts and heart — (the) guys made big plays.”

Ketchikan (18-8) advances to a Friday night semifinal game against the fifth-seeded Soldotna Stars, who surprised the fourth-seeded West Eagles 45-42.

In the late session, Dimond emerged as the Cook Inlet Conference’s sole survivor with a 55-46 win over Palmer and Colony stopped West Valley 61-44.

Ketchikan ruled Alaska basketball in the 1960s, winning five state championships in that decade. But the Kings haven’t won a title since.

“The goal since the beginning of the season has been to win a state championship," Ketchikan senior Marcus Lee said. "We knocked down a really good team, and we have one more game to go until that state championship (game).

“Since it’s my senior year, I wanna go out with a bang.”

It was Ketchikan’s first win against East (24-4) in three games this season. The Kings lost 64-52 at East on Jan. 16 and 77-49 at South’s O’Brady Invitational on Jan. 18.

Lee bounced back from a quiet first half — he was 2 for 7 from the field for five points — to score 20 of his game-high 25 points in the second half. His performance included 13-of-14 shooting from the foul line.

“I get down on myself when I miss a couple shots,” said Lee, a second-team all-state selection who is headed to UAF to play basketball. “My teammates kept my head up, letting me know that I’m all good.”

Chris Lee of Ketchikan dunks the ball during the Kings' 60-58 upset victory over East. (Bill Roth / ADN)

East started off strong, outrebounding the Kings and holding them to five points to take a 22-5 lead in the first quarter.

The Thunderbirds continued to outrebound Ketchikan in the second quarter but the Kings managed to cut the gap to 32-22.

In the third quarter, East held the Kings scoreless for the first 4 minutes, 48 seconds but was ice-cold offensively. Once Lee and the Kings got going, they made it 38-34 behind six points from Lee and two huge 3-pointers from junior Kristian Pihl.

The Kings entered the fourth quarter without junior and second-team all-state selection Chris Lee, who sat with four fouls halfway through the third quarter. East’s cold streak continued and the T-birds continued to rack up fouls, sending multiple Kings to the free-throw line.

“Marcus is a special young man, he has just the kindest heart,” Stockhausen said. “For him to respond in the second half the way he did shows his leadership and toughness.”

When 6-foot-6 senior Aiden Williams, East’s starting big man, fouled out with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Kings snatched the momentum. The foul was East’s 10th for the half, and the Kings took full advantage of the double-bonus by converting on 13 of 16 free throws and maintaining a steady two-possession lead.

The Thunderbirds tried to come back behind buckets from sophomore Hasaan Herrington and a 3-pointer from senior Kaeleb Johnson in the final minute, but Ketchikan kept making free throws to keep them out of striking distance.

Chris Lee, who is Marcus Lee’s younger brother, finished with 12 points, and Pihl added 10 with his momentum-shifting 3-pointers. Robert Hilton-Seludo supplied seven steals, six rebounds and four points.

East was led by Jaron Williams’ 16 points, Herrington’s 11 points and Johnson’s nine points. Terry Davis added a game-high nine rebounds to go with six points and Andrew Graves finished with seven rebounds and four blocks.

The Soldotna Stars celebrate a 3-point shot. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Soldotna 45, West 42

Jersey Truesdell knocked down five 3-pointers and sank 14 of 15 free throws to rack up 31 of his team’s 45 points in the squeaker over West.

The game was close throughout. West had the edge in turnovers (seven to Soldotna’s 15), rebounding (29-28) and shooting percentage (34.0 to 31.5), but Soldotna outscored the Eagles 15-6 from 3-point range and 16-8 at the foul line.

Leading the Eagles were Diques Esaw with 13 points, Jamari Lawrence with 11 points and Joel Martinez with nine rebounds and six points.

Truesdall collected seven rebounds for the Stars.

Dimond 55, Palmer 46

Isaiah Moses and Evan Hoosier provided a potent 1-2 punch for Dimond.

Moses filled the stat sheet with 16 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals, and Hoosier totaled 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for the Lynx. Jaren Carle and Noah Brandon helped out with eight points apiece.

Dimond shot an efficient 21 of 35 from the field and outrebounded Palmer 20-14.

Palmer’s Ronny Marshall impressed on both ends of the court, pouring in 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, swiping the ball four times and grabbing seven rebounds. Jacob Titus scored 12 points for the Moose.

Colony 61, West Valley 44

Colton Spencer drained four shots from behind the arc to help Colony defeat West Valley. The Knights outscored West Valley 24-6 from 3-point range.

Spencer finished with 12 points to give Colony four double-figure scorers, including Sullivan Menard, the Class 4A player of the year who was good for 16 points. Menard was 4 of 11 from the field and hit all seven of his free throws.

Wyatt Baker added 10 points and eight rebounds and Jeremiah Hersrud scored 12 points for the Knights.

West Valley got 17 points and seven rebounds from Terrell Peters.

This story has been edited to reflect Ketchikan’s five state championships in the 1960s.

West High's Joel Martinez and Soldotna's Brock Kant dive for a loose ball. (Bill Roth / ADN)

ASAA March Madness Alaska

Thursday’s results

Soldotna 45, West 42

Ketchikan 60, East 58

Colony 61, West Valley 44

Dimond 55, Palmer 46

Friday’s games


11 a.m. — East vs. West

12:30 p.m. — West Valley vs. Palmer


6:30 p.m. — Ketchikan vs. Soldotna

8 p.m. — Colony vs. Dimond

West High's Anthony Snow defends as Soldotna's David Michael puts up a shot during the Stars' 45-42 first-round victory. (Bill Roth / ADN)

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