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By Dan Rudy 

Wrangell hands Vikings first loss of season

 

Dan Rudy/ Wrangell Sentinel

Trent Stokes tucks away the final point in Wrangell's victory over Petersburg during Saturday night's homecoming game. Stokes led his team for points during the game with 22, making four of five free throws and sinking four three-pointers.

Wrangell High School's boys basketball team kicked off the school's homecoming celebrations with a victory, striking a blow to their visiting rivals from Petersburg with the Vikings' first defeat of the season.

The homecoming royalty was already crowned and supporters of both teams packed the gymnasium stands when players bounded onto the court Saturday night. Wrangell was tenacious through the first half, edging a lead at the first quarter buzzer and making good on a number of turnovers. By the end of the second quarter, the Wolves led 34 to 21.

Wrangell lost its momentum after the half, with the Vikings scoring 13 points to the home team's six through the third quarter. Midway through the final quarter some well-placed three-pointers brought the game to a tie at 40 points, and after some back-and-forth scoring Wrangell was able to maintain a slight lead as the clock rounded into the final two minutes.

Things heated up on the court as Petersburg tried to regain lost ground, but several fouls put the ball back into Wrangell's hands. Bryce Gerald made three of six free throw opportunities, and Trent Stokes put down two for two in the final minute, ending the game in a 54-49 win.

"I knew it was going to be tough for us to do it," Wolves' coach Ray Stokes said. "It was competitive. It was a hard-fought game."

The homecoming games marked Wrangell's second matchup against Petersburg this season, marking the start of the next rotation before Region V in March. Beating the division's leader, Stokes was hopeful the team would feel more confident going into the next few weekends' games.

Friday night's game was also closely contested, with Petersburg maintaining a few points' lead by the end of each quarter. Nine free throw opportunities in the fourth gave the Vikings the points they needed to edge Wrangell out, 37 to 34.

"It was a very well-played defensive game," Stokes said. His team harried its opponent throughout, keeping the scores relatively low and close. However, the coach said players could use some work improving their shooting percentages.

Dan Rudy/ Wrangell Sentinel

Blake Stokes shoots for the moon during Saturday night's game against the Vikings. Wrangell played a vigorous first half against the division leaders and defended its lead through the second, setting itself up for a potentially successful run-up to Region V in March.

Through the weekend, Trent Stokes led his team for points with 26, followed by Bryce Gerald with 19. Blake Stokes racked up 16 points over both games, Tyler Gillen eight, Dawson Miller seven, Riley Blatchley six, Tymon Teat four and Sam Prysunka two.

In the weekend's junior varsity games, Petersburg just came out ahead in both games. Friday's game went into overtime with the teams tied at 38. In extra time, the Vikings JV put down two free throws and an unanswered three-pointer for the 43-38 win.

The next afternoon Petersburg built up an early lead in the second quarter, which it held through to the conclusion, with the Wolves losing 30 to 39.

"I can definitely tell Petersburg got better," Jeremy Clark, Wrangell's JV coach, said. "I knew they would," .

With lots of freshmen on this year's team, he said players have been

improving on their defensive skills through the season but could still work on their shooting percentages. Clark

said the team kept things close though, and they can look forward to some

good games against Haines this weekend.

"My kids always have heart," he said.

 

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