Petersburg High Schools boys and girls basketball teams both head into the regional tournament in Sitka this week as top seed among Southeast 2A schools. The Vikings and Lady Vikings open up tournament play on Thursday afternoon after closing out the regular season with a pair of wins at home.
The PHS boys had two convincing wins over Craig at home last week, topping the Panthers 81-39 Thursday. Stewart Conn was top scorer for Petersburg in that game with 20 points, Wolf Brooks had 19 and Alan McCay scored nine.
It was nearly the same scoreline on Friday as the boys won 81-43.Conn put in 31 in that game, Kjell Witstock scored 15 and Mark Neidiffer added eight. It was the last game at home for four seniors on the team.
Coach Rick Brock said the four each bring something different to the team. “Ben Johnson brings a lot of energy defensively, rebounds well for us, has great foot work inside,” Brock said. “Ethan Bryner’s had a good solid season. Same thing, a good presence inside, good hands, has been in the right place, he puts himself in the right place offensively when people penetrate. Jordan Lapeyrie has had a good, good solid year, has had some big scoring games for us. He was hurt two weeks ago so it was nice to get him back on the court, get his timing back. We rely on him to do some things defensively for us on our opponent’s better forwards. And then Kjell Witstock has been a varsity member for four years, one of those long timers. For him, he was really a point guard for his first couple years on the varsity team and we’ve kind of evolved him into more of a point guard/shooting guard, putting Alan McCay on the point a little bit more. So his role has changed and he’s adapted well. He’s had just a solid presence all year long on the court for us, nice calming effect for us and I thought he played tremendous on Friday.”
Senior members of both basketball teams, the cheer squad and pep band were honored in between varsity games on Friday.
Brock said it was special to see the support from the community in the final home games of the season and said for him personally it has been a great situation to see his players grow from middle schoolers through their high school careers.
Petersburg finishes the regular season with a record of 15-7 and the Vikings are the top seed among the five Southeast 2A schools. That makes a big difference for the Petersburg’s schedule at the region five tournament in Sitka this week. Instead of having to take on Wrangell or Metlakatla right off the ferry on Wednesday, Petersburg doesn’t open up play until Thursday afternoon against either Craig or Haines.
Coach Brock expected all five teams will be ready. “And this year Wrangell, Metlakatla and us have had some really tough battles,” Brock said. ‘I expect it to be the same way at regions. As always, you have to bring your “A” game, you have to play as well as you can and you know have a couple things go your way. We’ve had some great games on the road the last couple weeks. We had a good series at home. The boys have had a good week at practice. We’re physically ready to go. Now it’s just show up and play your best.”
The winner of Thursday’s game gets to play either Wrangell or Metlakatla for the top seed in the region. The top two seeds move on to the state tournament.
The Lady Vikings improved to 20-1 for the regular season, beating the Lady Panthers 57-26 on Thursday and 48-22 on Friday. In Thursday’s game Kylie Wallace led scoring with 17 points while Ruby Brock put in 14 and Emma Chase scored nine. On Friday, Wallace had 16 points, Brock scored 11 and Courtney Fredrickson added 10.
Girls coach Dino Brock thought the games were a good warm up for the regional tournament. “Craig came out and was very aggressive with us,” he said. “Lot of contact and just very aggressive with us. And I thought it was great for us to get ready for tournament that way. They made us work for things, offensively and defensively, they were very aggressive offensively attacking the basket and once we kinda figured that out I thought that we did a nice job playing defense without fouling, moving our feet, doing all those things we’re supposed to do. So I was very happy with the game.”
Like the boys team, the girls also have four seniors who played their last home games last week Wallace, Brock, Josie Prus and Adanna Kvernvik. The group is a big part of the points they Lady Vikings put on the board each week, along with rebounding and defense. “The four seniors have been with us for four years and so, they’ve been through all of the games with the Ketchikans and the Edgecumbes and the Sitkas, so they’re a very experienced crew,” Brock said . “They understand things on the court. They work well together just because they’ve been around each other through middle school and four years of high school. Plus they work really hard; they’re great examples. They come in everyday and just work and try to get better. That’s just great leadership for people to see every day.”
Brock noted the senior recognition also highlights the time, work and money put in by the parents of the seniors for four years with the team.
The Lady Vikings also are the top seed in the region don’t have to play on Wednesday. They open up the tournament Thursday against the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between Wrangell and Craig.
The girls team plays first on Thursday at 3 p.m. with the boys right after that at 4:45. KFSK will broadcast Petersburg’s games live from the regional tournament.