In their third and final game at the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic in Ketchikan last week, the Homer Mariner girls battled against the Craig Panthers, the defending 2A state champs, for fourth place and lost by a narrow-two-point difference. Then, the watchful eyes of Homer at-home fans viewing the live-streamed version of the game on the Web reported a timing discrepancy that would bump the Mariners into fourth-place. Or not.
At the end of the game’s first quarter Homer led 16-12. At the half, they were still ahead, 27-23. Mariner fouls and injuries in the third quarter left the door open for the Panthers to tie the game, 34-34.
With 4:44 remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter, Homer held a four-point lead, but turnovers and fouls by the Mariners resulted in the Panthers narrowing that lead to a single point. Then, with only seconds left in the game, Craig scored a three-pointer and secured a 49-47 victory, making the Panthers fourth-place winners and putting the Homer girls in sixth-place.
“After the game, Homer parents who had watched the live-streamed game alerted the coaches to a discrepancy in the clock in the waning minutes of the contest,” said Connie Akers, head coach of the Mariner girls team. “With 1:25 remaining, the clock was not started after a dead ball until about 20 seconds had passed.”
After reviewing the video, the tournament’s Game Committee confirmed Homer was ahead when the buzzer should have sounded and that Craig’s three-point basket came afterwards.
“But Craig was awarded the basket and the win since a discrepancy with time keeping can only be adjusted during the game,” said Akers. “So, Homer closed the tournament with an official sixth-place finish and an unofficial fourth-place.”
The three-day Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic was an opportunity for the Mariners to officially break into their basketball season. Participating teams included Chugiak, Craig, Klawock, North Pole, Oregon City, Seward, Thunder Mountain, West Valley and Wrangell, as well as Ketchikan and Homer.
“The boys played really well,” said the Mariner boys Head Coach Mark Casseri.
Akers acknowledge the challenge just to fly to the Southeast community on Revillagigedo Island.
“Getting to and from Ketchikan is no easy feat in itself,” said Akers in an email to the Homer News late on Sunday. “The team left Homer on Christmas evening and will be returning in the early hours of Dec. 31.”
In the first game of the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic, the Mariner boys faced tough competition from the Klawock Chieftains, defending 2013 Region V 1A champs. The first quarter saw some fast back-and-forth action and the Mariners ended the eight-minute period with a 14-12 lead. By halftime, Klawock had edged ahead, 19-18. The action continued through the third quarter, with Klawock gaining a 47-44 lead. The fourth quarter brought the teams to a 56-56 tie before the Chieftains gained the lead and a 69-64 victory.
The Mariner girls were pitted against the Kings in their first game on Friday and suffered a loss of 60-24.
“The game was a great learning experience for the HHS squad as they battled the tall, aggressive Ketchikan Kings for rebounds, shots, defensive stops and clean passes,” said Akers.
On Saturday both the boys and girls Mariner teams hit the court fired up. In a game against the Craig Panthers, the boys led 26-15 at the end of the first quarter and continued to maintain the lead through out the game. A final score of 70-58 secured the Mariners’ shot at fourth place on Sunday.
“Homer is coming out hot,” Bill Whicker, announcer of the live-streamed game, said more than once as he kept up with the fast-moving, play-by-play action.
Later on Saturday, the Homer girls faced the Klawock girls team. Like their male counterparts, the Klawock girls also are defending 2013 champs.
After Friday’s defeat to Ketchikan, the Mariners weren’t about to lose the game.
“They handily won with a final score of 48-33,” said Akers.
With the girls team short on players for the holiday event, Akers dipped into the freshman ranks, and Sofia Clark, Desiree Cleary, Uliana Reutov and Mariah Hendrickson “all received significant court time and did well protecting the team’s lead, passing the ball and defending against a team that refused to accept defeat,” said Akers.
Saturday’s win put the Mariner girls in line for Sunday’s game against Craig and the battle for the classic’s fourth-place title.
In the boys’ Sunday game against the Seward Seahawks, the Mariners not only met their goal of not giving up 15 points a quarter, but also claimed a 53-39 fourth-place victory, something the team was “very happy with,” said Casseri. “They were disappointed with the game Friday that we lost by a couple of points to Klawock, which was the defending state champ for 1A, but all three games we played were fantastic. We got better every game and have some really smart basketball players.”
In spite of the long travel time, Casseri said the away games “were a good bonding experience” for the players as they get the 2013-2014 basketball season underway.
Mariner fans have an opportunity to see some at-home action next week:
• Jan. 7: Skyview,
• Jan. 10: Houston,
• Jan. 11: Cordova.
“It would be great to get the home crowd involved,” said Casseri, hoping to see the gym filled with cheering fans.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at email@example.com.