TMHS boys basketball placed 3rd in the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic

By Jasz Garrett

The TMHS boys placed 3rd in the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic last weekend. (Photo courtesy of TMHS Head Coach John Blasco)

Ketchikan, Alaska (KINY) – The Thunder Mountain High School boys played in the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic in Ketchikan this last week and finished 3rd in a very tough field. 

TMHS opened with a 62-61 overtime win over Monroe-Catholic and lost in the semifinals to West Anchorage 65-52. Then TMHS beat Ketchikan 60-48 to finish 3rd. West beat Service and won the tournament.

Samuel Lockhart and Thomas Baxter are among 10 seniors on the TMHS team.

TMHS Head Coach John Blasco said they have had a large group of seniors for the past four years, and that it’s impressive to see their leadership form. The boys push each other every day to get better.

Lockhart shot well in the West game, he had eight threes, tying his school record, and he had five threes against Ketchikan.

As for Baxter, Blasco said he showed composure and facilitating. He had four to five assists a game range.

Blasco said that TJ Guevarra and Lance Nierra did a nice job at the point guard position in terms of controlling the offense and applying defensive pressure to the opponents.

He added that Kasen Ludeman was injured last year, missing the majority of the season and it’s been good to see him come into his own.

“They’re all working really hard together and starting to find their role within the team,” Blasco said.

Blasco said focusing on keeping their heads up throughout the tournament is what led to their wins over Monroe and Ketchikan.

“They had a real, a real edge to them in terms of kind of competitive fire. Monroe, I think we got up five with two minutes left to go in the game and made some mistakes that led them to tie up the game, but the guys stayed very positive and stayed very energized together. I think kind of showed some maturity that was good to see in terms of making the right plays late down the stretch,” Blasco said. “Ketchikan, we just were able to get off to a hot start and maintain it. And, you know, James Polasky is another senior for us that had a really big game there. We just came out, really, really aggressive and I was impressed to see that over the three days that they all competed so hard and never let up.”

He added that it can be difficult to put together full games—kids lose focus in a quarter, which Blasco said is what happened with West. West outscored TMHS in the second quarter which the kids couldn’t overcome.

West and Service’s height and championship experience set them at the top of the state which is a challenge to face early on in the season, Blasco said.

He gave an overview of how they’ve been playing this season overall.

“We’re seven games into the season and we’re four and three, overall record four and one in the state of Alaska, which I always kind of separate out because it’s kind of important when it comes to the end of the year state rankings,” Blasco said. “We’re excited to be where we’re at. It’s definitely still early, one month down into three and a half month season but guys are working hard and improving every day.”

TMHS has its first home game for the season on Jan. 12 and 13 against Sitka. Blasco said they’ll spend the next week preparing for Sitka, who stands 5-1 currently.

“I hear they got some really good guard play. They’ve got a six-six kid down inside that I hear is quite athletic and they’re five and one like I mentioned. So, they’re off to a strong start,” he said. “They’re gonna compete with Mt. Edgecumbe for a state spot out of their division and yeah, we just gotta be ready to go because can’t underestimate any opponent, especially if you haven’t seen them.”

The TMHS boys basketball team is excited for their fans to come out and support them next weekend. They will also be organizing the annual Cougar Mountain cookie dough fundraiser in mid-February. Cookie dough tubs are available for $20 each from the basketball players or online. Blasco said it’s the biggest fundraiser of the year. Donations can also be made to the team at any time on the website.