This article has been updated to include additional information.
A deadlocked duel became a lopsided loss in a matter of minutes.
Thunder Mountain High School’s boys basketball team was tied at 34 with visiting Ketchikan High School with about five minutes to go in the third quarter. But over just a little over a quarter and a half of play, the Kings outscored the Falcons 24-7 to cement a 58-41 victory in a game that TMHS was leading at the half.
“They jumped all over us in the second half,” said coach John Blasco after the game. “We got outscored in the second half 34-12, and you’re not going to win games that way. Their defensive pressure in the second half was significantly increased from the first half, and we weren’t ready for it. They made us play backwards, and we couldn’t get easy looks, and they started working the run, and we started settling for outside shots.”
Kayhi was led in scoring by senior JJ Parker, who scored 17 points, including 9 points in the third quarter that built the Kings’ lead. Two of his teammates, sophomore Marcus Stockhausen and junior Jared Rhodes also finished with double-digit scoring totals of 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Thunder Mountain was led in scoring by junior Thomas Baxter who put up 21 points with 19 coming in the first half. James Polasky was next up with 8 points, including two 3-pointers, continuing a streak of strong outside shooting for the junior frontcourt player.
Following the loss, the Falcons’ record is 7-15, with a 2-4 record in their conference.
They’ll have a little over a week off before finishing the regular season with a pair of games against Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé.
“We haven’t had a stretch like that since December,” Blasco said. “So it will be nice to work on a few things.”
Thunder Mountain is set to host the first game at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28. On Wednesday, March 1, the match up will move across town to JDHS, with the game set to start at the same time.
After that, March 7-March 11, the Region V tournament will be held at TMHS for the first time in the school’s history.
“We’re excited for that opportunity to have that tournament in our gym,” Blasco said.
Fridays of Thunder
Pick a positive sports cliche, and it probably applies to Thunder Mountain High School’s Friday night win against Ketchikan High School.
A team win? Sure. Three players scored more than 10 points and six total players scored. A complete game? Yep. TMHS came back from a 37-32 halftime deficit and led by only 3 points with less than a minute to go, and it took rebounding and defense to hold on to win 64-59. And yes, that means it was a clutch win too featuring free throws from juniors Baxter and Samuel Lockhart to close out the game and a big steal late in the game from junior Polasky.
“We made some critical shots and once we got that lead, the guys really worked well together and found good looks and made free throws down the stretch, and a couple key rebounds and steals that really helped maintain possessions for us,” Blasco said.
The home win, which improves TMHS’ overall record to 7-14 and conference record to 2-3, is a reversal of circumstances for the Falcons who have found themselves on the losing end of several close games this year. TMHS was able to outscore Kayhi 32-22 to come out on the right side of this one.
“We had to play better defense in that second half,” Blasco said. “And JJ Parker is next level. He is a talented, talented basketball player. Even with two hurt hands, he was able to get his looks.”
Parker finished the game with 27 points, leading all scorers, with 18 of those points came in the first half.
The Falcons were led in scoring by Baxter who poured in 25 points, including 14 in the third quarter that pushed TMHS into the lead. He’s had a lot of games like that over the past three years, and was honored for crossing the 1,000-point mark ahead of Friday’s game.
Blasco, during the pre-game ceremony, said Baxter is the fastest to reach the mark in TMHS history, and currently sits at No. 3 on TMHS’ all-time scoring list.
He wasn’t the only TMHS player to have a big scoring night. Polasky added 17 points, including three 3-pointers, and Lockhart chipped in 13.
The Falcons and Kings will see each other again very soon. TMHS hosts Kayhi for a 7:15 p.m. game on Saturday.
• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at firstname.lastname@example.org or (907)308-4895.