The Sitka Wolves and Mt. Edgecumbe Braves boys basketball teams met for their final contest of the regular season on Wednesday night (2-22-12). The so-called “Battle of the Bridge” this year has developed as the close, exciting rivalry many basketball fans hoped for when Sitka was reclassified as a 3A school.
Click here for iFriendly audio.

“…And goes for the three-pointer… the rebound. Devan Romine has it… Sitka wins!”

That’s Sitka Daily Sentinel Sports editor Craig Giammona calling the final seconds of Wednesday’s “Battle of the Bridge” between the Sitka High Wolves and the Mt. Edgecumbe Braves.

Sitka won the game by three points, 59 – 56. Mt. Edgecumbe had a last chance to tie the game with a three-point shot at the buzzer by junior Grant Akaran, but the ball failed to drop in, and Sitka senior Devan Romine covered the rebound as the clock ran out.

The win boosted the Sitka Wolves’ record to 19-3 overall, and 11-1 in conference play, and assured them the top seed and a bye in the Region V tournament next Tuesday in Ketchikan.

The Mt. Edgecumbe Braves fell to 13-8 for the season, 8-4 in conference play, though their record does not necessarily reflect the threat the Braves represent to the conference.

The Braves led for most of Wednesday’s game, with strong inside play by their guard, junior Kacy Green, who led all scorers with 20 points. Green, and fellow junior Leo Ford – who scored 8 — both consistently drove to the basket. Edgecumbe’s center, Jaylin Prince – who on any other team might be point guard – was as dangerous from the field as he was under the basket. Prince scored eleven points, along with his fellow senior Cody Sherman.

Dominique Hall, at 6 points, rounded out Edgecumbe’s offense. The Braves’ performance demonstrated that their win over the 4A Juneau Crimson Bears last week was no fluke.

Sitka head coach Andy Lee called Edgecumbe “worthy opponents” and said he enjoyed the rivalry. At halftime, he tried to remind his Wolves, who were down by 6, of the fun of the pre-season.

“It’s a single word: July. We went down in July and played at Seattle Pacific University, a bunch of games there. We lost some and we won some. But we came away knowing that all of the work we’ve done since middle school would pay off in increments. Maybe a minute here, a minute there. And the guys just stuck with the program. Kids let you coach them, they give you the license to coach them. So when Mik missed the dunk and I took him out, he was better when he went back in. When you can take out one of the best players in the state and he doesn’t hang his head, and gets a three the first time he touches the ball – they’re letting you coach them.

Sitka’s star forward Mik Potrzuski put up the first three-pointer of the game, but went cold in the first half. He would eventually revive in the fourth period and galvanize the rest of the Wolves’ offense, and claim 16 points for the game.

But Lee says the Wolves are not the kind of team that relies on a single stand-out.

“You can take Mik away, and Devan will hurt you. Tonight they took away Devan for a while, and Hunter Lee came through with some big baskets. Jon De La Cruz has had two twenty-five-point plus games this season, maybe he didn’t have five tonight. It’s our balance – it’s Brian Way, sixteen years old comes in and plays huge, when we’re in foul trouble, and controls the backboard, and isn’t afraid to guard anybody. And we have Kendrick Payton, who’s capable of the same thing. Six-foot-five sophomores.”

Brian Way sunk one basket in his eight minutes on the court subbing for Bae Widmier, another senior forward who put up 14 points total. Hunter Lee scored six points in his last night playing at home in a Wolves uniform. And senior Devan Romine scored 17 points – nine of them from the three-point line.

The “Battle of the Bridge” is a fun rivalry, but neither Andy Lee or Braves’ coach Archie Young took too many chances or went too deep into their rosters for the last Sitka appearance by the teams. Only 7 Wolves had much court time. The Braves, only six.

The regional tournament uses a double elimination format. Sitka and Edgecumbe could expect to “battle” one more time in Ketchikan before heading to the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage in March.