Met snatch two wins from Wolves at home
Devon Miller takes the cut route around a stunned Metlakatla defender on Saturday night. Although the Wolves fell 49-27 in that game, Miller was cheered for nailing down a 3-point shot in the opening seconds of the matchup.
Although they played in a more aggressive form than in recent outings, the Wrangell Wolves basketball team hit a brick wall last weekend in the form a Metlakatla Chiefs squad that defeated them 64-34 on Friday evening and 49-27 on Saturday night.
It was a rough night from the beginning for the Wrangell squad as Met fired off six unanswered points in the first 90 seconds of the Friday game, allowing the Wolves to fall behind 16-9 in the first period – though the home team was buoyed by a trey from Jacob Marshall and a pair of deuces courtesy of Ryan Reeves and Devon Miller.
The second period was identical in terms of scoring for the Wolves, who garnered nine more points off Miller, Reeves and Tyler Gillen – but it was turnovers and blatant takeaways by the Chiefs’ defense that led to a rush in scoring for Met as they ran up a 30-18 lead going into the half. The Wolves were aggressive on defense as well, but almost too much, as they hacked their way into sending Met’s Tristan Alexander and Tristan Winter to the line on repeated occasions.
Metlakatla also excelled at shooting from the outskirts of downtown as Drew Yliniemi added two more 3-pointers during the period to add to his earlier pair in the first period. Aggressive coverage of Yliniemi by Miller and Reeves shut his points factory down, however, as the halftime buzzer approached.
Big time turnovers, including more and more blatant grabs of the ball from hands of the Wolves’ offense led to a 20-point advantage during the third period, with Reeves and Robbie Marshall adding only five points in six minutes. Reeves, who was guarded like the North Korean border for most of the night, was fouled repeatedly and sent to the line, though he could not capitalize and shot 2-for-6 from free-throw land. Blaine Wilson also went to the line twice – where he was also twice denied, ending the period scoreless.
The Wolves came back just a bit, however, in the fourth period, adding 11 points to the board and included a trey by Tyler Gillen from deep left of the sideline. And while free-throws were not part of the equation in the period – the Wolves shot only 35-percent from the line all night – Mason Dingwall and Blake Stokes each added a bucket in the 64-34 final.
Picking up only one foul, Dingwall was on fire defensively in the end of the game and said he was keenly aware of the need for his team to play better fundamental basketball.
“They were moving the ball better than we were,” Dingwall said. “They also got the boards when we didn’t. We tried to run our plays but we didn’t really work well together out there. You saw the outcome.”
Head coach Ray Stokes said he was disappointed and planned to address a few key areas in advance of the Saturday evening game.
“In the fourth, especially with the push we made on offense and defense, I felt like we had a little hope,” Stokes said. “Overall, though, I thought it was a lackluster performance by us. We have to learn how to pass the ball around and shoot better. If we don’t, there is no point in us showing up.”
Whatever adjustments Stokes and his team made after the game on Friday seemed to work out – at least temporarily – on Saturday.
A deep trey by Reeves, followed by another by Miller, all within the first 90 seconds of the game, put the Wolves up 6-0 with an exclamation point. Metlakatla would retake the lead moments later on a 7-point run, but that’s when the battle royale between the two squads began.
Trading the leads all the while, Miller, Reeves and Marshall scored a combined 15 points by halftime and sent the Chiefs packing into the locker room at the break trailing 15-14.
That lead would crumble, however, in the second half of play as the Chiefs put up 35 points and made even more steals and takeaways happen – depriving the Wolves of numerous chances to put points on the board.
In the end, Met was victorious once again, with a 49-27 tally showing as the buzzer sounded.
Reeves ended the game with 18 points, followed by Miller with four. Stokes added 3 points, while Marshall donated a pair to the effort.
The Wolves sole wins so far this season have been against Haines and Angoon during the Little Norway tournament in Petersburg. Wrangell was able to defeat the Glacier Bears 51-41 and the Eagles 56-40 during those matchups.
The next matchup for the Wolves is set for tonight against Craig at home. The varsity game begins at 7 p.m. The score for the Wednesday, Jan. 16 game was not available by press time.