Panther power: Perfect Skagway blows out Ninilchik for Class 2A crown

Posted: Sunday, March 21, 2010

Skagway's girls capped off an undefeated season with a 67-29 win over Ninilchik in Saturday's 2A state title game at the Sullivan Arena. The Panthers finished the season 29-0.

Despite the thrashing, laughter could be hear from outside of the Wolverines' locker following the game.

"We were just glad to be here," Ninilchik head coach Rod Van Saun said. "We saw them earlier and they did the same thing to us."

The Panthers defeated Ninilchik by 38 points at the Yakutat tournament at the beginning of the season.

"Skagway has been the best team all year," Van Saun said. "Even though they lost, they can hold their heads high. They're proud of themselves."

"Even though we just got slaughtered, it was a privilege to play for the state title," senior Lindsey Rohr said. "We made it to the championship, that's all we can ask for."

The Panthers took command of the game right from tipoff. They put up 37 first-half points to Ninilchik's 16. Kaylie O'Daniel, Skagway's player of the game, paced her team with 21 points. Jesse Ellis scored 18 and Rori Leaverton had 17. All three will return to next year's team.

Brittani Motoyama led Ninilchik with 11 points. She was named the Wolverines' player of the game.

Skagway shot 48 percent from the field. Ninilchik shot 25 percent. The Panthers were a perfect 12-of-12 from the line.

"They're just an incredibly athletic, well-coached, defensive, intense team," Van Saun said.

"Today, we just lost to a good team," senior Lindsay Schnabl said.

Fatigue was also a factor. Van Saun rode six players for most of the three-day tournament.

"It caught up with us a little tonight," he said.

In just his second year at the helm of the girls varsity program, Van Saun said his season goal was to make state. Earning a trip to the title game was something nobody was expecting, he said.

"No one ever gave them a chance to be here," Van Saun said.

The whispers of skepticism about Ninilchik started at the beginning of the season, Schnabl said. Finishing second in the state proved those doubters wrong.

"We wanted to prove everyone wrong, especially the other teams that didn't believe in us," Rohr said.

"It's funny when everyone that's talking about you didn't make it here," Schnabl said. "They shouldn't be talking."

Rohr and Schnabl represent the only two returners from last year's squad. They've made it to state four straight years, losing to Yakutat in the 2008 title game. Motoyama, Stevie Klein and Cassie Fefelov, all transfer students, are the other Ninilchik seniors graduating this year.

The leadership of Rohr and Schnabl on and off the court was instrumental in the team's success, Van Saun said.

"Neither one of them missed a practice all year," he said. "Both know what we achieved as a team was bigger than basketball."

Panthers 67, Wolverines 29

Ninilchik 7 9 6 7 -- 67

Skagway 19 18 14 16 -- 29

NINILCHIK (29) -- B. Motoyama 3 5-6 11, S. Klein 2 0-0 4, L. Schnabl 2 2-4 6, B. Anahonak 0 0-0 0, L. Rohr 1 1-2 3, C. Fefelov 1 1-6 3, E. Ehlers 0 0-0 0, A. Ehlers 0 0-0 0, S. Anahonak 0 0-0 0, A. Mahoney 0 0-0 0, K. Smith 1 0-0 2. Totals -- 10 9-18 29.

SKAGWAY (67) -- A. Jensen 0 0-0 0, K. Surdyk 0 0-0 0, K. O'Daniel 6 8-8 21, A. Korsmo 5 0-0 11, A. Vogel 0 0-0 0, P. Brown 0 0-0 0, J. Ellis 7 4-4 18, E. Herbig 0 0-0 0, E. Doland 0 0-0 0, R. Leaverton 8 0-0 17, K. Henricksen 0 0-0 0, Ja. Ellis 0 0-0 0. Totals -- 26 12-12 67.

3-point goals -- Skagway 3 (O'Daniel 1, Korsmo 1, Leaverton 1). Team fouls -- Ninilchik 11; Skagway 16. Fouled out -- None.

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