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The Craig Lady Panthers were calm and collected against the Haines Lady Glacier Bears in the Region V 2A/4A Basketball Tournament on Wednesday at Thunder Mountain High School in Juneau, earning a 37-31 win.
Craig was patient and composed under the full-court press defense of Haines.
“Lots of practice throughout the week,” Craig senior Alexis Lawnicki said. “It was amazing. All week we worked really hard as a team… we had our younger players come together and really practice and that is what broke that press today. We have our five seniors together again from last year and we are here to work.”
Craig ran into foul trouble in the first quarter with senior Alissa Durgan and Lawnicki getting two apiece.
Yet Haines could not find a bucket until a minute remained in the period when senior Grace Long Godinez scored on a break-a-way layup.
Craig led 7-4 starting the second quarter, but Haines charged out to a 12-11 advantage half-way through the stanza. The teams exchanged baskets into halftime with Durgan getting two key rebounds and putting two assists out to classmate Amiaya Hansen for a 20-18 lead at the break.
Haines took a 22-21 lead in the third period but with two minutes remaining in the stanza the Lady Glacier Bears could only connect on one shot while Craig took a 28-24 lead with just one period to play.
“I don’t know what was going on,” Haines sophomore Ari’el Godinez Long. “Usually we have a much higher 3-point percentage. I think we just need to take a little more time to get open shots, so that we had good shots where we could take our time and shoot or penetrate. But I think we’ll get the next game. It was just a bad day, an off day.”
Lawnicki scored six straight points to start the final frame for a 10-point advantage, 34-24.
Haines’ Alison Brenda notched a deep three to trail 34-27.
With under three minutes remaining the teams exchanged free throws to the end.
Long notched a pair for Haines to trail 34-29, Hanson put Craig up 36-29, and Grace Long Godinez brought Haines to 36-31.
A final free throw by Craig senior Makenna Taylor put the game out of reach as Haines missed their final four attempts.
“Just being confident and passing the ball and trusting each other as a team,” Craig coach Vanessa James said. “Moving the ball, making the right pass and making sure everybody steps up and does their part. It was a scrappy battle but my team finished it out. I am proud of them for their consistency.”
Durgan led Craig with 11 points, Lawnicki added 10, junior Priscilla Trudeau five, Hansen four, senior Laci Lowery three, and freshman Chelsea Thompson and Taylor two apiece.
The Lady Panthers hit 6-23 at the charity stripe, the Lady Glacier Bears 9-24.
Benda led Haines with 12 points, Long added nine, Godinez four, and junior Gracie Stickler and sophomore Ashlyn Ganey three apiece.
Craig advances to play Friday at 3 p.m. against the winner of Thursday’s Metlakatla/Wrangell game.
Haines plays an elimination game against Petersburg Thursday at 3 p.m.