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By Marc Lutz
Wrangell Sentinel 

Wrangell manages one win out of six games against Metlakatla

 

February 1, 2023 | View PDF

Marc Lutz/Wrangell Sentinel

Kayla Meissner, left, faces off with Ryley Booth of Metlakatla in Friday's basketball game.

Boys and girls varsity and junior varsity teams knew they would face some of the toughest teams in Southeast last Friday and Saturday as Metlakatla came to Wrangell for high school basketball. And they were right.

Metlakatla beat Wrangell in every matchup except one when the Lady Wolves bested the Miss Chiefs in the girls varsity game on Friday night.

That didn't stop Wrangell players from trying, which was made harder by the fact that some key players were noticeably absent from the games.

The closest score was Friday's girls varsity game where the Lady Wolves beat the Miss Chiefs by a mere three points, 45-42.

At first, it seemed Metlakatla might surge ahead with an early lead with a few three-point baskets and a relentless defense. But thanks to team captain Kiara Harrison, the game was tied with only 1:10 to go in the second period and Kayla Meissner put the team ahead near the end. Wrangell held onto its lead with Metlakatla staying close behind.

Meissner ensured the lead at the end of the third period with a three-point bucket at the buzzer, giving the girls the confidence to keep ahead. However, the visiting team made them work for it. Some close calls had the packed Wrangell gym groaning in dismay or rattling the roof with cheering.

"They're a tough team for sure," Harrison said. "We worked together, spread out the points, everyone was scoring, everyone was playing tough (defense), a lot of teamwork."

The win was the third in a row following the Lady Wolves' success against Petersburg the previous weekend.

"We needed these wins for our confidence, and now I think we're there," said head coach Christina Good, who was visibly emotional after the win. "We can compete. That's the message we need to hear. We took those punches in Haines and that brought them down a little bit, but these three wins are just amazing."

The next night of play was just as fierce for both teams. The plays were fast and Metlakatla kept up the defense while landing their baskets. Wrangell kept up their game, though they trailed every period, eventually losing 31-25.

"There's a lot of tough teams this year," said assistant coach Kaelene Harrison. "It's really going to be close competition (the rest of the season). The more games we can get under our belt, the more confidence we can build with the girls. That's just going to get us ready for tournament."

Wrangell's boys varsity team had a harder time finding the net, which gave Metlakatla the edge in Friday and Saturday's games. The Wolves trailed the Chiefs at the end of every period of each game. Metlakatla's ability to hit nearly every shot made it hard for Wrangell to keep up, as their shots didn't find as much success. Metlakatla won Friday, 54-31.

Keaton Gadd scored first in the opening moments of Saturday's game, sinking a three-pointer to put the Wolves in the lead, but the Chiefs quickly tied it up and surged ahead.

Wrangell fell to Metlakatla in Saturday's game, 77-35.

Some of Wrangell's key players were missing from the games due to illness, which took away the team's size and experience. In Saturday's game, Devlyn Campbell was the only senior on the court in the final periods, relying on his younger teammates to try to move through Metlakatla's sizable and seasoned players.

Marc Lutz/Wrangell Sentinel

Jacen Hay, right, makes a drive for the hoop last Friday during a basketball game in Wrangell against Metlakatla, while TJ Jackson attempts to block Hay's move.

"I think you add two of our top scorers and the game is totally different," said boys head coach Cody Angerman. "I don't think anyone would argue the fact that if we are 100% healthy, that we're a different team. With that said, I think it presents a good opportunity for other guys to step up and show what they are capable of. I feel that there are some guys that just need to see more floor time and get more experience."

Angerman attributed Metlakatla's wins to being the better team this weekend, but he believes there's enough time before regionals for Wrangell to come back and be contenders. "(Division) 2A in Southeast is going to be a dogfight come tournament time. ... I think we have the tools and the guys that will get us there," he said.

Regionals are scheduled for March 8-11 in Juneau.

Boys and girls junior varsity teams had just as hard a time against the visiting teams as their varsity counterparts. The boys JV lost Friday and Saturday games, 50-16 and 69-56, respectively. Girls JV were equally outmatched, losing 57-28 on Friday and 40-20 on Saturday.

The teams are scheduled to travel to Craig to play against the Panthers this weekend.

 

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