Ketchikan underdogs take all in ASAA Tournament

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There are times when you watch a basketball game where one team blows out the other.

Domination and dynasties are viewed as the peak of sports in this nation and across the globe.

But under-dogs is what people root for.

Whether it’s a double-digit seed in March Madness or a small school pulling off the upset in the swimming regionals over top notch talent, there is one thing for sure, and that is people get excited.

This is the story of an under-dog squad that battled back through the odds, made heroic comebacks and cemented their legacy alongside the 1974 Kings of yester year.

So when the Ketchikan Kings arrived to the ASAA Tournament on Thursday as the #8 seed, they weren’t given much thought by the committee.

They would be facing the East Anchorage Thunderbirds in the first round, who as the first seed boasted elite shooting and a center who stood at close to 6’8’’.

They even had Kaleb Johnson who was named to the 4A First team, so to put it in prospective the Lee brothers that starred for KayHi were named to the second team.

The Kings were down 22-5 at the end of the first quarter, hope looked lost on paper.

However they didn’t fold to the T-Birds as they turned to their future Alaska Nanook in Marcus Lee to lead them to victory.

And that he did getting 25 points on the night, but his most important ones came in the final moments of the fourth quarter.

Lee went 13-14 from the charity stripe, and kept East at bay to stun them 60-58 in the first round.

The atmosphere in the Alaska Airlines Center was buzzing.

People were talking, saying that this eight seed is something else.
Lee said after the game, “Coach couldn’t have done a better job preparing us for this game. I’m stunned man. I’m stunned. That’s just all heart man.”

Their next matchup was in the semifinals, which was against the Soldotna Stars.

Once again Ketchikan was facing a deficit, and again they found a way to turn the tables.

Marcus Lee and Chris combined for 35 points to help push the Kings past SoHi and Jersey Truesdell who scored 30 points on his own.
KayHi had done the unthinkable, which was make it to the state title game as the eight seed.

But they were after more, and they had a date with the Dimond Lynx in the final.

And the Kings were in for a dog fight as Dimond jumped out to an 11 point lead with about 12 seconds left in the second quarter.

But after the Lynx missed a shot, Chris Lee took the ball and shot a half courter to make it a 31-23 game heading into halftime.

Chris Lee is a junior who shined bright on the biggest stage in the state of Alaska, getting 28 points and 10 rebounds.

The second half saw the Kings battle back and take the lead in the fourth quarter.

However Dimond wouldn’t go quietly in the night as they got an and-one shot from Isaiah Moses to tie it all up at 50.

Dimond then had a chance to win it all in the final seconds but their shot bounced off the rim, sending us to overtime.

This is where the Ketchikan season turned into a movie.

Both teams battled back and forth with great defense in the extra period, until Kristian Pihl caused the crowd to erupt in jubilation with a three pointer with about a minute left on the clock.

What made this a Hollywood story was Pihl was 0-7 from downtown before hitting the shot of shots.

Next was chaos as Dimond forced up a shot that missed and Marcus Lee caught a pass to make it 55-50 with less than 30 seconds.

That would have been the story, the Alaska kid scores to put away their much bigger Anchorage opponent, but that wasn’t the case as the Lynx hit a three to make it 55-53 with about eight seconds left.

And Marcus Lee was fouled, who up to this point was 91 percent from the free throw line, sending him to the line for a one-and-one.

He missed and you could hear the crowd gasp, that’s when Cody Kemble collected the offensive board and tried to score.

That missed as well.

And that’s when it happened.

Much like Michael Jordan in Space Jam or LeBron James in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the impossible happened.

Remember the name Robert Hilton-Seludo, who jumped over the much taller Dimond players to tip in the basket to give themselves a four point lead with five seconds left.

The crowd exploded as the buzzer went off.


Ketchikan did it, they pulled off the upset of all upsets by winning it all as the eight seed.

Their first title since 1974 and their first appearance in the finals since ’76 where funny enough they lost to the Dimond Lynx.

The players didn’t know what to say after the game, just pure emotion took over.

Hilton Seludo said, “"I can't believe they put us at the eight seed. When was the last time that we won? '74 that's crazy. We couldn't have done it without any of these guys right here all seniors. I don't know, I suck at interviews but hey."

Pihl who scored the three had this to say, “I knew it, I knew it. I was having an off night. I had to keep my confidence and my composure and keep my confidence and just have the guts to knock it down.”

And Marcus Lee summed up this team after the game, “Definitely this, this is going to be my last memory. This is going to be what we remember throughout our life and at our team reunion one day we are going to be looking back at this moment and it's going to be awesome I couldn't ask for a better season with these guys and they're great and awesome. And these are my brothers right here, we're brothers and known each other for forever and man I'm stoked."

The Kings reign over the Alaska Basketball world, and they captured the hearts of the people.

One the greatest tournaments in Alaska history.