News Archives

Sunday March 27, 2016
Juneau Douglas Crimson Bears win Alaska State Basketball Championship - KINY Radio by Lori James
     Click on the link below or copy and paste it into a new browser for more coverage and audio interviews:

http://kinyradio.com/juneau-daily-news-online/246098

Saturday March 26, 2016
Juneau-Douglas Makes National News in USA Today
     The story of the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team is making it's way around the sports world...

Click the link below or copy and paste into a web browser:

http://usatodayhss.com/2016/video-juneau-douglas-alaska-hits-buzzer-beater-to-make-state-title-game

Saturday March 26, 2016
Juneau, Tompkins beat buzzer against Ketchikan - ADN by Stephan Wiebe
     The basketball gods must be smiling upon the Juneau boys basketball team.

For the second straight game, Juneau came from behind to win in the final seconds, this time beating Southeast rival Ketchikan 42-40 Friday for a spot in the 4A state championship Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Juneau had taken a late lead, but a 3-pointer by Ketchikan’s Matt Standley tied the game at 40-40 with eight seconds remaining.

Juneau’s Kaleb Tompkins received the inbounds pass and dribbled down the court, twice almost losing control of the basketball. He corralled the ball each time he lost it, sliced into the lane and put up a jumper on the money as time expired. The Crimson Bears rushed the floor to celebrate their title game berth with Tompkins at midcourt.

“One of the things with Kaleb, he’s got a great head for the game, he’s a student of the game, he understands things really well,” Juneau coach Robert Casperson said. “He released that ball at the exact precise moment. He knew how much time he had. He didn’t panic when he had that ball knocked away.”

Tompkins didn’t just hit the game-winner, he put the Crimson Bears on his back in the fourth quarter. He scored Juneau’s final 12 points, including back-to-back treys that tied the game at with 3:32 remaining.

“He finished with 22 (points), so kept us in it,” Casperson said. “He’s done that for us at times — put us on his back and carried us when we need him too. He’s a very unselfish player.”

In the first half, Juneau struggled shooting the ball. The Crimson Bears shot a measly 23 percent from the floor to Ketchikan’s 47 percent, but they only trailed by four, 21-17.

“We got great looks right at the rim and they didn’t roll in for us,” Casperson said of his team’s first-half shooting. “While we didn’t make the shots, it still gave us the confidence that we could keep getting good shots, so we didn’t feel down on ourselves.”

Both teams struggled with foul trouble throughout the game with a combined 34 fouls committed. Juneau’s leading scorer in the Thursday’s quarterfinals, Bryce Swofford, fouled out in the critical closing minutes of the fourth quarter. Point guard Treyson Ramos was also in foul trouble for much of the game with four.

For Ketchikan, Nathan Bonck and Matt Standley each finished with four fouls, and Jason James — arguably the King’s best player — missed most of the first half with two early fouls.

Standley’s nine points led the Kings, who failed to get a player in double figures. James had six.

The state semifinals matchup was the sixth game of the season between two teams from Southeast. The teams split the regular four regular season contests and Juneau barely held off a huge Ketchikan comeback in the conference tournament.

Saturday, Juneau will try for its first state championship since 1998.

“At this point in the season, I don’t think we haven’t had a situation they haven’t experienced,” Casperson said. “I’m just really excited we get this chance to go play in the championship tomorrow against (Dimond).”

Saturday March 26, 2016
Kaleb Tompkins hits buzzer beater to send JDHS to state championship - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     JDHS boys best Ketchikan 42-40 in another nail-biter Friday night

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team made their families and fans nervous again, as they trailed Ketchikan nearly the entire semifinals game at the state tournament in Anchorage.

That is, until JDHS’ Kaleb Tompkins hit a game-winning buzzer beater that punched his team’s ticket to Saturday’s championship game.

With the ball and nine seconds left on the clock, JDHS senior Guy Bean inbounded to Tompkins at the baseline. Ketchikan, in the double bonus, couldn’t foul as Tompkins — who almost lost his dribble at half — took the ball all the way down to the right elbow, and flushed the game winner from 12 feet.

“Whichever option it was, we wanted Kaleb (Tompkins) getting the ball,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said. “He didn’t panic, he kept that clock running in his head, and he took a legitimate shot at the basket where a lot of kids might have rushed something and thrown it up there. But once he saw that opening, he had a great follow through on the shot and dropped it home. It was one of the more impressive things I’ve seen out of a high school kid in my 17 years of coaching.”

JDHS won a low-scoring, physical 42-40 game against their experienced Southeast rivals.

The Crimson Bears started slowly again in the semifinal game, continuing a trend started Thursday against Bartlett in the quarter finals. JDHS was down 4-13 by the start of the second quarter.

The Crimson Bears found a little more offense in the second quarter, as Ketchikan had to sit starters Jason James and Matt Standley, who both had two fouls early in the second. Tompkins would hit a deep 3-pointer in the quarter and spur his team to a 13-8 run to finish the half down 17-21. The Crimson Bears shot a paltry 23 percent in the first half, mirroring their 21 percent first-half shooting against Bartlett the night before.

Coach Casperson talked about how Ketchikan held JDHS down in the first half.

“Ketchikan played a heck of a game,” he said. “They did a great job controlling the tempo and keeping the scoring down. Certainly we like to try to attack and score quickly. … It was a real grind-it-out kind of game,” Casperson said.

The physicality continued in the third quarter, with Ketchikan getting into foul trouble early. JDHS went 4-8 from the line in the quarter while Ketchikan hit 5-6. Ketchikan’s big man, Nathan Bonck, earned his fourth foul with 2:35 to go in the period and had to sit. Matt Standley earned his third but stayed in the game. Going into the final period, JDHS remained behind 27-30.

The fourth quarter belonged to JDHS’ second team all-state guard Tompkins (who also earned JDHS’ first tie of the game Thursday night on a 3-pointer with 3:20 to go in the final period). The Crimson Bears’ first lead of the game came on a nice up-and-under by Tompkins with 2:08 left. The breaks seemed to go JDHS’ way in the final period, as they earned key possessions off charges and travels.

But with 15 seconds left, Ketchikan’s all-conference guard Matt Standley had something to say before JDHS could enjoy the win. Down three points with the ball on JDHS’ baseline, Ketchikan’s Mo Bullock inbounded the ball to Standley who drained a contested three to tie the game 40-40 before Tompkins hit his game-winner.

“I thought we saw the light at the end of the tunnel there, and then Matt Standley comes back ­— he’s had a heck of a year, all-conference kid — and just drains that three on us. It was good defense, and even better offense,” Casperson said.

JDHS moves on to the championship tomorrow at 8 p.m. against Dimond High School. Dimond beat East Anchorage in their semifinal.

Casperson said his team will have their hands full with Dimond.

“Dimond is very well-coached,” he said. “They play a very solid game with ball control, they handle it real well, they don’t get rattled very easily. East Anchorage is a very athletic team, and they like to press and tried to turn them (Dimond) over a lot, and Dimond did a great job handling that,” Casperson said.

Friday March 25, 2016
In last-second comeback, JDHS wins first state tourney game in Anchorage by 1 point - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Sophomore Kolby Hoover hits game-winning shot

Bartlett made the game scrappy, but Juneau-Douglas High School harnessed some last-second heroics to pull a low-scoring, opening-round win at the state tournament.

The JDHS boys basketball team beat Bartlett 58-57 at the March Madness Alaska state basketball championships in Anchorage on Thursday.

The Crimson Bears trailed in all but the closing seconds of the match when sophomore Kolby Hoover — who played only a few minutes in relief for a fouled-out Treyson Ramos — hit a deep field goal with 1.7 seconds left.

As the buzzer sounded on Bartlett’s half-court desperation heave, Hoover, who doesn’t start, walked around in a daze as his teammates exhorted him. It didn’t seem to sink in that he just kept his team’s hopes alive for the state championship.

With 22 seconds to go, the Crimson Bears found themselves down 53-57. Kaleb Tompkins then dribbled down and hit a deep 3-pointer off the dribble to pull the game within a point. Bartlett missed their one-and-one free throw, and JDHS’ Tompkins got the rebound and found Kolby Hoover with a long pass.

Hoover hit a field goal from the left wing to give them their first and only — and winning — lead.

“Kaleb (Tompkins) drew basically a triple team on that last rebound, and as he was driving up the floor, made a nice pivot move and got out of the pressure to find Kolby (Hoover) on the long diagonal pass, and he drained it,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said.

JDHS was down 0-7 at the beginning of the contest as both teams played sloppy basketball to start.

“We didn’t shoot it very well in the first half at all,” Casperson said. “... We got good looks, we were attacking the basket (but) things weren’t falling. Could have been nerves, first game jitters, any of that. ... We definitely shot better in the second half and that made a huge difference for us.”

JDHS whittled the lead to two points in the second quarter only to drop back 20-30 before halftime. In the third, JDHS would go down by as many as 14 points before making a comeback off the good play of Erik Kelly, Bryce Swofford and Kaleb Tompkins.

Down 10 most of the third quarter, Treyson Ramos hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to bring the game within six going into the fourth.

Bryce Swofford seemed to be the only player who played his usual game as the 6’7” big man worked against a smaller Bartlett team. The junior used his size advantage to get to the line repeatedly, and keep his team within striking distance as the clock wound down.

“He started going inside more in the second half, and that’s one of the things we talked about early in the game, was that we had a size advantage and we needed to attack them inside,” Casperson said.

JDHS faces Ketchikan tomorrow in the semifinals at 3:30 p.m. The championship game will be held on Saturday at 8 p.m.

Thursday March 24, 2016
Class 4A: Juneau boys defeat Bartlett in wild finish - Alaska Dispatch News by Stephan Wiebe
     Juneau trailed or was tied with Bartlett for 31 minutes and 58.3 seconds of the first-round Class 4A boys basketball game between the Crimson Bears and Golden Bears on Thursday at the Alaska Airlines Center.

It led for the 1.7 seconds that mattered most.

Juneau sophomore Kolby Hoover nailed the go-ahead bucket with time winding down — his only field goal of the game — and Kage Freelove’s desperation half-court heave was off at the buzzer for Bartlett. Juneau won 58-57 to advance in the state tournament.

It was a good day for teams from Southeast Alaska and a disappointing day for teams from the Valley. Ketchikan advanced with a 71-50 win over Wasilla and Dimond dumped Palmer 55-42. In the other first-round game, East swamped West Valley 90-66 to give Anchorage a pair of teams in Friday's semifinals.

None of those games matched the drama of Juneau-Bartlett.

“For Kolby Hoover to come on as a sophomore there at the end, our left-handed kid, to drive in a tough defense (and) get that shot to drop — that’s a great opportunity for him,” Juneau coach Robert Casperson said.

For most of the game, Bartlett was in control. The Golden Bears scored the first seven points and never trailed until that final 1.7 seconds.

Bartlett had several big runs and led 30-20 at halftime. But every time the Golden Bears looked like they would blow it open, Juneau inched its way back with solid play at the free-throw line and in the paint.

The Crimson Bears didn’t shoot a particularly high percentage from the line — only 59 percent — but they got to the line 22 times compared to six for Bartlett.

Juneau also used its superior height in the post. Bryce Swofford, a 6-foot-7 junior, led the Crimson Bears with 21 points, 6-5 Kaleb Tompkins added 14 and 6-4 Erik Kelly tallied 10.

Casperson said working the ball inside was the primary talking point at halftime.

“Bryce’s first touch on offense in the second half was at the 3-point line and he bombed a 3,” Casperson said. “So he got a quick sub right away and we had to clarify what it meant for him to go inside. I think he got the message and did great for us down the stretch.”

Casperson said he knows his team was lucky to get the win in a game where Bartlett appeared to be in complete control.

Ryan Trailer led the Golden Bears with 18 points, 10 coming in the fourth quarter, and Bentiu Panoam (12 points) and Anthony Camacho (11) scored on several fast breaks to the rim.

“The Bartlett kids played terrific,” Casperson said. “They just played a great game and controlled the tempo. They broke us down and got their layups. We are very fortunate … to have survived that opportunity.”

Bartlett had its largest lead of 14 points midway through the third quarter. Juneau responded with an 11-0 run that included 3-pointers by Treyson Ramos and Guy Bean.

Leading up to the crazy finish, Tompkins hit a long trey with 15.3 seconds remaining get Juneau within one point, 57-56. The Crimson Bears fouled Trailer right after the Bartlett inbound pass, and Trailer missed his first free throw of the potential one-and-one, which led to Hoover’s go-ahead jumper.

Juneau is making its first state-tournament appearance in four years. The Crimson Bears last qualified for the state tournament in 2012, where they lost to Service by one point in the first round.

Wednesday March 23, 2016
All-conference, all-state honors announced - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Four of Juneau’s high school basketball players and a coach have been recognized for state and regional honors this year. Alongside Juneau’s basketball standouts were a slew of other 2A, 3A and 4A Southeast players.

Juneau-Douglas High School senior Kaleb Tompkins made second team all-state while Thunder Mountain High School senior, and Kaleb’s cousin, senior Ava Tompkins, made third team all-state. JDHS senior Guy Bean and TMHS junior Chase Saviers were nominated to Southeast’s all-conference team.

In addition to the players, JDHS boys head coach Robert Casperson was honored as coach of the year by the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches.

JDHS’ Kaleb Tompkins led his team to the state tournament as the No. 1 seed. After growing three inches over the summer to 6’5”, Tompkins has come into his own as one of the state’s premier guards.

Tompkins is a humble player, and when asked about his individual accolades, gave all the credit to his coaches, parents and teammates.

“It feels pretty good. My teammates and coaches brought me here. I’ve been working hard, and my teammates push me a lot,” he said in an interview Saturday.

Kaleb’s coach, Robert Casperson, elaborated on Kaleb’s evolution as a player: “Kaleb has been extremely dedicated to improving in the offseason. ... He’s a kid that I think leads us in assists and steals because he anticipates and sees the floor so well on both sides of the ball. Part of that, too, is that drive he’s had in practice the last two years, for him coming up with the older guys he’s had to work against. This group he plays with now, they push him, they challenge him.”

Casperson added, “I thought it was great that he and his cousin Guy Bean made all-conference.”

TMHS senior Ava Tompkins finishes a historic career for the Falcons with her third team all-state honors. Ava has been a four-year starter on the varsity team, and has become one of only three female Falcons players to amass over 1,000 career points. Ava carried a young Falcons squad this year, leading her team in scoring almost every game. Though the results often weren’t what the Falcons wanted (they finished 3 and 20), Tompkins played with an unmatched talent and fire.

“It feels good because it’s the top 15 players in the state, so I definitely appreciate the nod. I’d like to thank my dad, because he’s the one who pushed me for the last god knows how many years, and then my team. We had a tough season, but they kept their heads up with me and kept working the whole time,” she said.

Thunder Mountain head coach Tanya Nizich said of Tompkins: “From her freshman year it was safe to say she would be a shining star at Thunder Mountain. ... She definitely has the mindset of going out not just playing to play — she’s playing to win. Unfortunately, we did not have a season to show for that with a winning record, but she played her part in last year’s season when we did very well and made it to state. For not having a good record and still being acknowledged, this is a great thing,” Nizich said.

Chase Saviers and Guy Bean seemed to score at will during the 2016 season. Both are two of the best perimeter shooters on their teams. They were nominated to the all-conference team along with Kaleb Tompkins and Ketchikan High School seniors Mo Bullock, Matt Standley and Jason James.

JDHS coach Robert Casperson said he felt honored by the selection as Alaska’s 4A boys coach of the year.

“It’s truly an honor,” he said. “I know there are a lot of hard-working coaches in the state at all levels and at the 4A level especially, so for me to be selected by my peers I am truly grateful. I would certainly say that this is not an award just for me; this is based on the guys and how they play and the things that they’ve done so far this year. It’s also a reflection of the improvement they’ve made over the years.”

Other Southeast hoopsters honored were:

4A Girls - Third team: Eliah Anderson, Ketchikan; Alexis Biggerstaff, Ketchikan.

4A Boys - Second team: Jason James, Ketchikan. Third team: Mo Bullock, Ketchikan.

3A Girls - First team: Zoe Krupa, Sitka; Payton Weisz, Mt. Edgecumbe.

3A Boys - Second team: Tevin Bayne, Sitka.

2A Girls - Player of the Year: Kylie Wallace, Petersburg. Coach of the Year: Dino Brock, Petersburg. First team: Kylie Wallace, Petersburg. Second team: Kayley Swinton, Haines; Ruby Brock, Petersburg. Third team: Aspen Hansen, Craig; Amy Jensen, Wrangell.

2A Boys - First team: Stewart Conn, Petersburg. Second team: Danny Marsden, Metlekatla; Blake Stokes, Wrangell. Third team: Wolf Brooks, Petersburg; Zavier Ghormley, Metlakatla.

Tuesday March 22, 2016
No. 1 seed JDHS boys prepare for state tournament - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     The last time the Juneau-Douglas High School boys won a state basketball title was when Carlos Boozer ran roughshod over anyone with the unenviable assignment of guarding him. No. 1 seed JDHS plans to change that starting Thursday at the 2015-2016 March Madness Alaska Basketball State Championships.

The Crimson Bears face Bartlett High School in a first-round matchup at 3:30 p.m. Thursday in Anchorage. Though Bartlett is the tournament’s bottom seed, Juneau-Douglas is preparing for a battle: No team in this year’s bracket is a pushover, and Bartlett has a first team all-state player in 6’2” guard Bentiu Ponoam.

Senior guard Kaleb Tompkins has his focus on the task at hand.

“We have to contain him (Ponoam) but not overlook the rest of their team; play team defense and box out,” Tompkins said, adding, “Being the number one seed doesn’t really matter; We have to beat all the best teams to win. … I feel like we can still get better, we still have things to improve on.”

Senior guard Treyson Ramos: “I’m pretty pumped up. ... Being number one won’t matter until the end.”

At practice all week, JDHS head coach Robert Casperson has been emphasizing taking the tournament “one game at a time,” ensuring that nobody on his squad makes the mistake of overlooking Bartlett.

“We’ve faced good athletes all season long, we certainly want to work on containing the ball handler, but it’s not an individual effort. We’re going to have to be aware of him (Ponoam) wherever he is on the floor, be ready to rotate and help out — and help the help — or he’s gonna beat us off the dribble,” Casperson said.

A self-described family, this year’s unit of Crimson Bears players are experienced, big and industrious. All of these attributes were on display at their last full week of practice. JDHS practiced hard, keeping one another accountable without being prodded by their coaches. Underlying all the hard work was a sense of fun.

Casperson says his team’s closeness off the court has led to their selflessness on court.

“They don’t really care who scores, it’s a very unselfish group. Typically our leading scorer has been Kaleb (Tompkins), but our second and third guys rotate through. Bryce (Swofford) has had 20-point games, Erik Kelly has been up there at 20, Treyson (Ramos) has been up to 18 a couple different times, Guy Bean has had multiple 20-point games. … They look for each other and whoever has it going, they’ll keep feeding him.”

If JDHS does make it past Bartlett, they’ll face the winner of a Wasilla-Ketchikan matchup in the semifinals. The Crimson Bears have played both teams this year, beating Wasilla 69-57 in December and winning three of five matchups against Ketchikan in the regular season and Region V tournament. The semifinals tip off at 3:30 p.m. Friday; the championship game is at 8 p.m. Saturday.

All March Madness Alaska Basketball State Championship games can be streamed online at nfhs.com.

For the record, JDHS’ last title was in the 1997-1998 season. Juneau has 11 titles in the 88-year history of Alaska high school basketball.

Saturday March 12, 2016
Crimson Bears claim region crown - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     JDHS earns trip to state tournament

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team left no room for an upset to Thunder Mountain High School on Friday, beating their crosstown rivals by a 19-point margin for the Region V 4A title and a trip to the state tournament.

The Crimson Bears won 67-48, leading from the opening minute to the final buzzer in a game where the Falcons couldn’t generate much offense. The state’s No. 1-ranked Crimson Bears resolved to play their best defense in the title match, according to head coach Robert Casperson.

“The teammates want to focus on each other, which is what I tell them because that allows them to forget about the crowd or the situation; whether it’s rotating on defense, setting screens, that’s been our focus for the last couple of weeks,” he said, adding that the “comradery with this group is second to none. They’ve come a long way.”

JDHS was led by senior Kaleb Tompkins with 21 points. Junior Bryce Swofford followed Tompkins with 14 and senior Treyson Ramos added 12.

TMHS was led by junior Chase Saviers with 19 points. Saviers was TMHS’ focal point on offense, as no other Falcon scored more than seven points.

“Everybody knows he’s our go-to guy this season,” Falcons coach John Blasco said. “He’s a fierce competitor and doesn’t want to lose. He hit a three in the second and he knew he had the green light to try another. He ended up with three in the quarter. That was huge for us.”

TMHS earned their only lead off a Saviers free throw to open the game. JDHS established a 27-10 lead in the second, but the Falcons would trim that to 33-23 by half off the hot hands of Saviers.

The Crimson Bears have let leads dwindle in the third and fourth quarters this year, letting Ketchikan, Thunder Mountain and Mt. Edgecumbe back into regular season games they should have put away. JDHS had no intentions of jeopardizing their lead in the region title game, however, as Bryce Swofford deflected an inbounds pass, stormed down the court and scored on an and-one play to start the third quarter.

“That really set the tone for us in the second half, and our guys fed off that initial play with our defense,” Casperson said.

JDHS would hold Thunder Mountain to nine points in the third while scoring 17 of their own to go up 50-32 by the start of the fourth quarter. The Falcons closed the game with their best scoring period, putting up 16, but couldn’t slow down JDHS, who score 17 in the final period.

The Crimson Bears earned the right to play in the March Madness Alaska State Championships starting March 24. Eight teams will converge on Anchorage to find out who is Alaska’s best 4A squad.

Casperson said his team isn’t finished yet.

“One of their goals this season was to win the region and get to state,” he said. “Some groups get really excited, and these guys really enjoyed this win, but they’re still looking forward. They know there’s more out there and more available to them. They’re still hungry.”

TMHS coach John Blasco wished JDHS luck.

“We wish them all the best up in state,” he said. “We’re excited for them to go in as a top seed.”

Friday March 11, 2016
JDHS 66, Kayhi 61 - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Two of the highest-ranked teams in the state faced off at the Region V 4A tournament on Wednesday, and the showdown did not disappoint.

The No. 1-ranked Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team lived up to their reputation with a 64-61 win over No. 2 Ketchikan High School. JDHS put Kayhi on their heels early, building a 22-point lead by the third quarter. Kayhi responded with a flurry of fourth-quarter buckets to come within a point in the final minute.

Though JDHS has come close to losing big leads before, head coach Robert Casperson felt this one could be attributed to Ketchikan’s excellent second-half play.

“They were on fire for a stretch in the third quarter, making everything they put up. They’re a really good team, they’re not just going to back down or roll over. They kept coming, they showed their competitive spirit.”

JDHS senior Kaleb Tompkins led all scorers with 24 points, followed by senior Treyson Ramos with 11. Seniors Guy Bean and Molo Maka added 10 and eight, respectively.

Ketchikan was led in defeat by senior Isaac Johnson with 18, senior Mo Bullock with 12 and senior Jason James with 11.

JDHS played a consistent game offensively, scoring 14 and 20 in the first and second periods, and 14 and 18 in the third and fourth. Ketchikan’s offense took all game to warm up, as they scored eight in the first, 11 in the second, and 18 and 24 in the third and fourth quarters, respectively.

Ketchikan started the fourth quarter at an 11-point deficit, but rallied late to tie the game at 49-49 with four minutes to go. JDHS’ Kaleb Tompkins hit a clutch and-one bucket with 2:16 left and then went to the line to hit two more on their next possession to put JDHS up 58-53 with less than a minute to go. Ketchikan was forced to foul to preserve the clock and JDHS hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the game with a three-point advantage.

Thursday March 10, 2016
Crimson Bears beat Falcons at Region V tourney - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team beat Thunder Mountain High School in the first round of the Region V tournament at Mount Edgecumbe High School on Tuesday.

The Crimson Bears, who held a 20-point advantage in the second quarter, cruised to a 69-56 win, earning the right to play Ketchikan today at 4:45 p.m. JDHS held the lead the entire game, using their size advantage to outplay TMHS on the glass. A revolving cast of scorers have led JDHS this season, and senior guard Kaleb Tompkins played the lead role on Tuesday with 21 points.

TMHS found a bit of hope in the third quarter, briefly trimming the lead to nine points. Crimson Bears coach Robert Casperson remains confident in his team’s play, but wants to see his boys keep their intensity throughout.

“This group can be an enigma when it comes to that,” he said. “They come out like gangbusters in the first half, then we go through that lull in the third quarter and the game gets interesting again. I never felt the game was in jeopardy, but it got closer than it needed to.”

Following Tompkins’ 21 points, JDHS was led by senior guard Treyson Ramos with 12, sophomore forward Erik Kelly with 11, junior forward Bryce Swofford with nine and senior guard Guy Bean with eight.

TMHS has played in one of the toughest conferences in the state this year, with both Juneau-Douglas (currently ranked No. 3 in the state) and Ketchikan (ranked No. 4) sitting atop the Region V leaderboards. Coach John Blasco’s team always play until the buzzer, but the Falcons felt they could have played much better.

“We didn’t execute anything we wanted and they’re knocking down good shots, taking it right at us, building a real comfortable lead,” he said. “I appreciate guys not quitting in the second half, but 20 points is a lot to overcome against a good team.”

Falcons senior forward Moa Maka is one of his team’s best shooters, and led TMHS with 14 points including two 3-point shots. Junior guard Chase Saviers had 10 points, and senior guard RJ Manning added nine.

The Crimson Bears hit nine 3-pointers in the contest, with most of those coming on inside-out plays. The Falcons made five from beyond the arc.

Monday March 07, 2016
JDHS boys complete season sweep of Falcons - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Juneau-Douglas closes regular season with senior night win

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team played up to their reputation in every respect Saturday, closing their regular season with a fourth win over Thunder Mountain High School.

The Crimson Bears came out looking for a more decisive win than Friday’s victory, and showcased their speed, rebounding and hustle in a 74-50 win that has carried them to the top of the Region V 4A standings. From the start of the game, JDHS displayed a balanced attack and tenacious defense, forcing turnovers from a Thunder Mountain squad known for their guard play.

Graduating seniors Kaleb Tompkins, Treyson Ramos and Guy Bean all had good nights, leading their team in points with 23, 13 and 10 respectively.

Thunder Mountain was led by junior Chase Saviers with 18, and senior Shane Mielke with 14.

Thunder Mountain started the game in good form, and kept the game at a seven-point deficit going into halftime. Down the stretch the Crimson Bears earned too many and-one plays for Thunder Mountain to overcome, putting the game out of reach after a third quarter push. Going into the fourth the Falcons were down 20 points and in the double bonus.

TMHS coach John Blasco’s team played hard through the buzzer, but couldn’t find the offensive life they needed in the fourth.

“We fouled more than any team in the state, they attacked the basket and we put them on the line. … They had three or four and-ones in the third. We gotta stop putting guys on the line,” Blasco said.

Both teams face off again in the Region V tournament at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday in Sitka.

Senior night sentiments

The Crimson Bears boys graduate five seniors this year: Hunter Hickok, Kaleb Tompkins, Molo Maka, Treyson Ramos and Guy Bean. The boys have been playing together since their youth days with Hoop Rats, and share as much chemistry off the court as they do on the court. The Empire caught up with all five players to talk about what it felt like to play their last home game.

“It felt weird. Honestly, it was kind of sad,” Bean said. “Every time I did something, like in pregame warmups, I was thinking, ‘This is the last time I’ll be doing this on our home court.’”

Said Ramos: “When all our parents came out it was kind of happy and sad, bittersweet. Knowing everybody was there, it was a fun game.”

Said Maka: “I was happy being here with everyone, with the coaches and the teammates I have.”

Said Hickock: “It’s not over yet. This is my only year. The coaches have had a huge impact and we’ve had a lot of fun.”

Tompkins has been in the program for four years, and stressed that he feels like his teammates are family.

The boys wanted to thank: Dr. Doug, coach Casperson, coach Sleppy, coach Kriegmont, Caitlynn Rich, David Timothy, all of their parents, the coaches that retired last year, the pep band, dance team, cheerleaders and many others.

Tomkins, Bean and Ramos wanted to leave their younger teammates with a piece of advice: “Cherish every moment, stay close as a team and make your teammates family.”

Friday's game: JDHS 68, TMHS 53

The Thunder Mountain boys basketball team had Juneau-Douglas High School right where they wanted them on Friday.

Up by a mere five points going into the fourth, the Crimson Bears pushed their lead to 15 in the final period and held on to a 68-53 win over the Falcons at home.

TMHS played one of their best games this season, with several different lineups keeping JDHS a bit disorganized on offense. The turbulent play helped the Falcons stay within striking distance of the state’s No. 1 ranked prep basketball team. The Falcon’s all-team effort wouldn’t be enough, however, to overcome JDHS’ excellent play in the paint.

“They tried to disrupt what we were looking to do, especially in the first few quarters,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “We know we have size and we want to try and attack the rim, get the ball inside for post opportunities, and they did a good job early in the game taking that stuff away. We became a little more patient as the game went on and that created some opportunities for us.”

The Crimson Bears bigs once again led the show, a development which has helped JDHS become a dangerously well-rounded team. Six-foot-seven junior Bryce Swofford tied senior teammate Kaleb Tompkins for a team-leading 22 points.

Swofford credited his teammates for helping him become a focal point on offense.

“We’ve been running our offense a little bit better, and it’s been helping me to get better looks,” he said. “We played our game … it made it a lot easier for us to play against them.”

Thunder Mountain brought a huge student section to the game on Friday, at times drowning out any communication on the court. Swofford added that it’s not easy playing in such an environment, but it’s good training for conference and state tournaments.

“It’s hard to hear people talking, calling out plays,” he said, adding that before post-season play his team needs to work on “getting used to that loud atmosphere.”

Behind Swofford and Tompkins, JDHS was led by senior Hunter Hickok and sophomore Kolby Hoover with six points each.

Thunder Mountain junior Noah Reishus-O’Brien had a massive game offensively, scoring a game-leading 24 points. He was followed by senior teammate Finn Collins with eight, junior Chase Saviers with six, and senior Moa Maka with six.

Though the buckets were hard to come by for the Falcons, Reishus-O’Brien played his best game this season.

“I stopped thinking about shooting, and just more getting to the rim and finishing shots,” he said.

Reishus-O’Brien made a point to credit the efforts of TMHS’ extended cast.

“A lot of our players stepped up,” he said. “We had Finn (Collins) boxing out and getting rebounds, Moa (Maka) stepped up, Chase (Saviers) hit some good shots. We had some good rotations and ball movement.”

The game started out with underdog Falcons bringing the intensity to the Crimson Bears, earning a 15-13 lead to start the game. Juneau-Douglas overtook that lead early in the second on their way to a 31-22 halftime advantage.

The Falcons would bounce back in the third, pushing the game to five points off an 8-2 run to close the quarter. The Falcons got into the bonus early, however, allowing JDHS to get to the line 14 times in the second half, hitting 11 of those.

Visiting Ketchikan referee Steve Kimble took an inadvertent shot to the nose on the opening tip of the game, prompting a game-stoppage. Kimble stuck the game out, modeling a toughness fans of both teams admired.

Sunday February 28, 2016
JDHS boys split series with Kings - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     In what’s proving to be the state’s biggest inter-conference rivalry this year, the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team lost to Ketchikan High School on Saturday to split a weekend series of home games.

JDHS lost to Kayhi 69-63 as the Kings established an early intensity that JDHS couldn’t match, and with the win Kayhi retained control of the Southeast Conference leaderboard. Both teams played a physical, punishing style usually reserved for conference and state tournament matchups. With the conference lead at stake, however, neither team held anything back as three players would foul out by the final buzzer.

Ketchikan senior Jason James led his team with 22 points. As one of the Kings’ captains, James knew he had to pilot Kayhi’s weekend turnaround.

“Yesterday we were really rough and slow and we weren’t playing any defense, so tonight we had to come out and prove what kind of team we really are,” James said. The senior guard expected a physical game out of JDHS. “This was like a region championship game, they’re going to be calling things less and it’s going to be very physical.”

In addition to James’ 22 points, Ketchikan was led by senior Mo Bullock with 16, junior Jake Smith with 10, and senior Matthew Standley with eight.

JDHS senior Kaleb Tompkins led all scorers with 28 points. Sophomore teammate Erik Kelly had 14, and sophomore Kolby Hoover added eight.

After going down 14 points in the first quarter, Juneau-Douglas would come within striking distance of Ketchikan by halftime. Sophomore Kolby Hoover hit a buzzer-beater putback to send the Crimson Bears to the locker room down 31-26. Ketchikan built their lead back in the third, finishing the period up by 13. Crimson Bears head coach Robert Casperson found it hard to break that five-point barrier.

“We had a couple opportunities to cut it down to five and we could never get any closer than that,” he said. “They made the plays they needed to, they got the stop and the rebound when they needed to, or they went down and got the bucket and the foul. They did a good job, especially on the boards.”

The Crimson Bears would make another push in the fourth, trimming the lead to seven points with a minute to go. JDHS’s Tompkins nailed a clutch three to give his team a chance in the closing seconds, but Kayhi hit their free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

As JDHS looks forward to their last weekend of regular season matchups, Ketchikan (18-4) holds a slight edge over Juneau Douglas (17-4), which would have been ameliorated by a JDHS win.

The Crimson Bears play two games against Thunder Mountain next weekend at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Ketchikan wrapped up their regular season and will next play during the Southeast Conference tournament March 9-12 in Sitka.

Friday's game: JDHS 72, Kayhi 64

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team clawed their way to a win against No. 4-ranked Ketchikan High School in spectacular fashion on Friday: stealing, dunking and blocking their way to a win over the Southeast Conference powerhouse.

JDHS beat Ketchikan 72-64 in the first of two all-important conference battles this weekend. The Crimson Bears’ played some of their best basketball all year: ball-handlers Treyson Ramos and Kaleb Tompkins kept Kayhi’s talented guards quiet while big men Bryce Swofford and Erik Kelly produced offensively.

Sophomore Erik Kelly had a huge night, leading all scorers with 19 points. In the second quarter Kelly treated the home crowd to a monster, one-handed alley-oop jam off an assist from Bryce Swofford. Kelly showcased the kind of acrobatics Juneau basketball fans haven’t seen for a long time in Southeast, and made a statement Friday that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

“It happened really fast. I thought Bryce was going to get it, but when I saw the defender was going over to him, I figured I’d jump. … It was my first alley-oop in a game so I was excited but I didn’t want to show too much emotion,” Kelly said.

The Crimson Bears’ win was a total team effort, but even head coach Robert Casperson recognized the special nature of Kelly’s dunk.

“I wish I could say that was just another two points for us but it was a pretty special play for a high school group to make, and certainly not something we’ve seen in Southeast since, well, probably since (Carlos) Boozer’s days,” he said.

Following Kelly’s game-leading 19 points was senior Ramos with 16, senior Tompkins with 13, junior Swofford with 12 and senior Guy Bean with eight.

Ketchikan was led by junior Jake Smith with 15, junior Jason James with 13, seniors Matthew Standley and Nathan Bonck with 12 each, and senior Mo Bullock with 11.

Kayhi was disappointed with the loss, but will look to bounce back Saturday night in their second match with JDHS.

“We knew it was going to be intense, we know they’re a good team,” Ketchikan coach Eric Stockhausen said. “We have to clean some things up and play better (Saturday). … They rebounded well in the first half, which led to some baskets in transition. The key in a game like this is easy baskets and I thought they got more easy baskets than we did.”

Ketchikan has every right to be confident going into Saturday’s game, as their Friday match was tight throughout. The Crimson Bears came out looking to establish an early lead and succeeded, but Kayhi stayed within three points for nearly the entire first half, leading to a halftime score of 41-38.

At the beginning of the third quarter the Crimson Bears were able to make a 12-1 scoring run and buy some breathing room, putting them up by as many as 14 and leading to a 60-49 advantage going into the final period. Ketchikan then had a run of their own to start the fourth, with Smith hitting a pair of clutch 3-pointers. Down the stretch neither team allowed any easy buckets, with the last eight scoring plays coming from the free-throw line.

Thursday February 25, 2016
JDHS slips past Mt. Edgecumbe - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Braves battle back from 20-point deficit

The Mt. Edgecumbe High School boys basketball team found themselves down 20 points against Juneau-Douglas High School on Thursday, yet forced a three-point game in the closing seconds of the match in a gutsy, inspired performance.

The Crimson Bears held on for the home win, 70-63. JDHS exercised control of the match offensively until the fourth quarter, when Mt. Edgecumbe head coach Archie Young exhorted his team to “make the game ugly.” The Braves then applied a brutal full-court press, which helped them go on an 18-4 scoring run in the final period.

Young said he was happy with his team’s effort, but was as surprised as anyone to see them make such a comeback.

“I’m gonna go ask them where that came from. Whatever it was, I hope they continue to do it,” he said. On his team’s “ugly” style down the stretch, Young added: “If we try to play a half-court game with them, they will beat us. We have to make it sloppy with quick shots and scrambling defense.”

Mt. Edgecumbe senior Paul Bioff led all scorers with 24 points. Junior teammate Bobby Pate had 20 and junior John Housler added seven.

JDHS was led by senior Kaleb Tompkins with 14, junior Bryce Swofford with 12, senior Guy Bean with 11, senior Hunter Hickok with nine, and senior Treyson Ramos with eight.

“Mt. Edgecumbe’s kids play hard no matter what,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said of the Brave’s comeback. “They don’t care whether they are up 20 or down 20.”

The Crimson Bears are moving on to their last four regular season games before the Southeast Conference tournament to be played in Sitka. Casperson expressed intentions to use their narrow win as motivation.

“I think it was a truly good wake-up call for us as we move forward on our last four conference games of the year.” he said.

JDHS went on to face Ketchikan for two games this past weekend at home. The bouts were an Alaska prep basketball showdown, as JDHS was ranked second in the state coaches poll when they entered and Ketchikan ranked fourth. JDHS and Kayhi are the Southeast Conference’s two leading teams.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play them again, it’s been a while,” Casperson said. “We’ve gotten better since then and I think they’ve gotten better, too. We’re looking forward to the big crowd.”

The first 200 fans at Saturday’s game were admitted for free. State Farm’s Chad Erikson sponsored the Crimson Bears for a Pack the Gym night at JDHS.

Monday February 22, 2016
JDHS takes second game against Mt. Edgecumbe - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team took down 3A Mt. Edgecumbe in Sitka on Saturday.

The Crimson Bears (15-3) outscored their opponents in every period except the third on their way to a 69-41 win. JDHS looked to bury their opponents early in Saturday’s contest, allowing the Crimson Bears to play conservatively and run the clock down in the second half.

JDHS head coach Robert Casperson is pleased with how his team is rounding out late in the season.

“Kolby Hoover was spelling us, giving us good minutes. Hickock played well. The pieces are there,” Casperson said.

JDHS senior Guy Bean led all scorers with 17, followed by senior Kaleb Tompkins with 16 and senior Treyson Ramos with 14. Senior Bryce Swofford added 10.

Mt. Edgecumbe’s Ermogen Mercelief led his team with 11 points, followed by Paul Bioff with 10.

JDHS and Mt. Edgecumbe played a close second half, scoring 20 and 18 respectively.

JDHS plays Mt. Edgecumbe again at 8 p.m. next Thursday in Juneau. The Crimson Bears follow that up with two games against Ketchikan at 8 p.m. next Friday and Saturday.

Sunday February 21, 2016
JDHS surmounts Mt. Edgcumbe - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Bryce Swofford battles for 22

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team hung onto an eight-point lead Friday at Mt. Edgecumbe High School, coming away with its 14th win of the season.

Six-foot-seven junior forward Bryce Swofford exploited his team’s size advantage to put up 22 points in the game and lead the Crimson Bears to a 61-53 win on the road.

“It was great to see Swofford involved in the game like he was,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said. “We played solid. Mt. Edgecumbe is scrappy, and they never let us get much above 10 points.”

Swofford led all scorers while JDHS senior guards Kaleb Tompkins and Guy Bean added 16 and 14, respectively.

Mt. Edgecumbe (6-10) was led in defeat by Bobby Pate with 18 points, Paul Bisff with 17 and John Honsler with seven.

The Crimson Bears played a consistent game offensively, scoring 14 in the first quarter, 16 in each the second and third periods, and 15 points in the fourth. Mt. Edgecumbe was able to outscore the Crimson Bears in the first and final periods of play, but were outscored by seven in the second quarter and nine in the third.

Tuesday February 16, 2016
JDHS boys best Wolves in two games - Juneau Empire
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team protected its lead from start to finish on Friday, sending the Wolves back to Sitka with two loses in as many nights.

JDHS capped Friday’s contest with a 22-point fourth-quarter effort to defeat Sitka, 74-61, at home. JDHS defeated Sitka on Thursday, 76-60, but allowed Sitka to fight back after holding a 31-point lead.

Kaleb Tompkins led the Crimson Bears on Friday with 26 points, followed by Bryce Swofford with 19, Guy Bean with 12, and Kolby Hoover added eight.

Tevin Bayne and Jesse Lanteigne led the Wolves with 19 points each.

Sitka jumped out to an early 15-14 lead over JDHS behind nine points from Bayne and five from Lanteigne. The Crimson Bears rallied in the second, with Tompkins scoring 10 of his team’s 20 points to give JDHS a 35-26 advantage at halftime.

JDHS expanded its lead slightly to 52-41 to end the third quarter.

The Crimson Bears made 25-of-34 free throws, and the Wolves were 19-of-30 at the line.

Friday February 12, 2016
JDHS boys cling to win against Sitka - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     If high school basketball coaches gave out grades to their student-athletes, Thursday’s Juneau-Douglas High School versus Sitka game saw some A+ work and some flunked assignments.

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team clung to the remnants of a 31-point lead at home to come out on top of the Sitka Wolves, 71-60. Both teams went on huge runs during the game, with JDHS’s coming in the first and the third, while Sitka pushed hard in the third and fourth quarters.

JDHS senior guard Guy Bean started the game red-hot, hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter on the way to a team-high 23 points. Senior Bryce Swofford brought a defensive intensity in the second half, and spurred his team’s biggest run, as Juneau-Douglas put up 15 points in the third before Sitka was able to score.

“I think we just came out hot and they came out flat,” Swofford said. With a big lead, the junior forward added, JDHS might have “got a little bit cocky,” allowing 3A Sitka back in the game.

Swofford had 11 points on the night. Senior guards Kaleb Tompkins and Treyson Ramos had 15 points and nine points, respectively.

Sitka senior Tevin Bayne led his team with 23, followed by junior Trevan Coleman with 14 and junior Jesse Lantiegne with 13.

Down 31, Sitka called a timeout with a little over two minutes to go in the third and began to look for the trap out of a 3-2 zone. JDHS looked to slow the ball down with its big lead, but instead “sat back, flat-footed,” according to JDHS coach Robert Casperson, allowing Sitka to be the aggressor. The Wolves went on to outscore JDHS 23-3 at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth, cutting Crimson Bears’ lead to 11.

“Sitka withstood a pretty strong run from us at the start of the third quarter,” Casperson said. “They kept their heads about them and stayed aggressive... That really changed the momentum of the game and put us back on our heels.”

Sitka would come within nine points in the final period. As the clock became a factor for Sitka, JDHS simply tried to dribble the clock down and pass the ball on their way to the 11-point win.

The teams have met once already this year, with a Capital City Classic bout ending in JDHS’ favor 81-63. Sitka Wolves coach Andy Lee sees his 4A matchups as “measuring sticks,” to see how far his team has come.

“Our resiliency came through,” Lee said. “We didn’t care that we were down 30. We know who we are and we believe in each other.

“If they’re (JDHS) the number two team in the state, the number two team in all the land, than it’s a heck of a measuring stick.”

JDHS plays Sitka again at 7:00 p.m. tonight at JDHS.

Thursday February 11, 2016
JDHS vs. Sitka - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     At home, the Juneau-Douglas boys basketball team faces 3A competition this weekend with two games against Sitka at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday and 7 p.m. on Friday night.

The two Southeast-based teams have played this year, with JDHS taking Sitka down 81-63. In the two teams’ Capital City Classic game, Sitka’s 6-foot-7 big man Jesse Lentaigne created problems for the Crimson Bears down low. JDHS coach Robert Casperson is interested in seeing how his team has improved defensively since then, and refuses to take the match lightly.

“Sitka has played well against some of the top 3A teams in the state. They match up against us well. … The last three years there has been a lot of parity between the 3A and 4A levels in terms of size and ability. We aren’t considering Sitka just another 3A school.”

The Crimson Bears recently split a two-game series with the state’s No. 1 ranked Ketchikan; Sitka is on a four-game win streak.

Monday February 08, 2016
Change in Home Game Times for Sitka Series February 11th and 12th.
     Thursday's game against the visiting 3A varsity boys team from Sitka will tip off at 6:15pm. It will be preceded by a JV game at 4:30.

On Friday the JV and Varsity games will begin at 5:00pm and 7:00pm respectively.

Thursday February 04, 2016
JD Boys Move Up in the Rankings - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     JDHS boys basketball is off this weekend, with its next competitions being a pair of home games against Sitka on Feb. 11 and 12. It hasn’t been a slow week for the Crimson Bears, however, as a shakeup in the state coaches poll has JDHS moving up again, leapfrogging to the No. 4 spot. The Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches state 4A boys basketball rankings stand as follows: 1. Ketchikan; 2. Dimond; 3. East; 4. Juneau-Douglas; 5. West Anchorage.

Thursday February 04, 2016
ASAA's WPI First Rankings Released
     The Crimson Bears are in second place in ASAA's WPI rankings, which measures strength of schedule and is used for seeding at the state tournament. The Juneau-Douglas boys team trails first place Dimond High School by .01% for first place and lead third place Ketchikan by 1.1%.

See the full WPI rankings here:

http://asaa.org/wp-content/uploads/4A-Boys-ASAA-WPI-Rankings-Feb.-3-2016.pdf

Sunday January 31, 2016
JDHS boys, Kayhi split series - Juneau Empire
     Ketchikan High School’s Jason James scored a game-high 34 points Saturday night to lift the Kings over visiting conference rival Juneau-Douglas High School, splitting the weekend road series at 1-1.

The Kings maintained their lead the entire game by dominating offensively in the second and fourth quarters.

Guy Bean led the Crimson Bears in scoring with 21 points, Kaleb Tompkins scored 17, and Treyson Ramos added seven.

Entering the second quarter tied at 12, the Kings put 23 points on the board, 13 by James, to go into halftime up 35-29. The Crimson Bears matched the Kings point-for-point in the third, but then the Kings sealed the victory in the final quarter.

The Kings outscored the Crimson Bears 27-17 down the stretch, including hitting 9-of-13 free throws to close out the game.

JDHS 66, KAYHI 63

The Crimson Bears needed a few extra minutes but still got the job done Friday night in Ketchikan.

Ending regulation tied at 60, seniors Kaleb Tompkins and Treyson Ramos came up big for their team in closing minutes. Ramos scored the Crimson Bears' only field goal in OT, and Tompkins went 4-of-4 at the free throw line to give visiting JDHS the 66-63 victory.

JDHS’ Guy Bean led his team with 22 points, 18 coming from behind the 3-point arc, and Tompkins added 17 in the winning effort. Erik Kelly contributed 10.

Kayhi’s Jason James led all scorers with 27 points.

The Bears took an early lead after one quarter, 15-10, and then the Kings caught fire in the second and nearly doubled JDHS’ offensive output to end the half up, 31-27. The Crimson Bears battled back in the third behind three 3-pointers from Bean and a field goal and 3-pointer from Tompkins to narrow the gap, 44-43. Tompkins scored eight of his points in the final quarter, Ramos hit a 3-pointer, and Molo Maka, Bryce Swofford and Erik Kelly all found the net to tie the score at the end of regulation.

Sunday January 24, 2016
JDHS boys win with defense, rebounding - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Crimson Bears’ Erik Kelly leads all scorers with 19

It seems there are several paths to victory for the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team.

The Crimson Bears plowed their way to another win against Kodiak Saturday night, but instead of offense, the second of JDHS’ two homecoming games featured defense, turnovers and rebounding.

Juneau-Douglas (9-2) bested Kodiak (1-5) by dominating on the defensive side of the ball. Senior forward Bryce Swofford would add the exclamation point to Saturday’s game, bringing his bench to their feet with a fourth-quarter dunk on the way to a 65-34 win.

Though the dunk added emphasis, JDHS’ team defense provided the real highlight, as it smothered Kodiak in the halfcourt and sent them on long scoring droughts throughout the game. JDHS looked to trap Kodiak’s shooters on the perimeter and force Kodiak to pass the ball inside, where JDHS’ bigs forced tough shots and out-rebounded their opponents.

“We were trying to execute a few new wrinkles on defense, so we were trying to get some game experience with that. I was proud of the way the guys played defensively in the halfcourt,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said.

Sophomore forward Erik Kelly led the Crimson Bears in scoring with 19 points.

Kodiak’s Ryan Bezona had 10.

Kodiak played better Saturday than Friday, coach David Anderson reported, but the shots simply weren’t falling.

“We shot probably less than 10 percent. We had a lot of open looks … I think we went zero for 10 to start. At halftime I felt it should have been a four- or five-point game.” Coach Anderson felt his perimeter defense “was a lot better … We went out there a little bit further and extended the defense, but they did get some second shot opportunities that we were trying to limit.”

JDHS jumped to an early lead in the game, earning four steals and keeping Kodiak scoreless for the first four minutes. Kodiak got to the free-throw line consistently but scored only one field goal in the first quarter. In the second quarter, six different JDHS players scored as the Crimson Bears were able to rebound their way to two or three attempts per possession and went to the locker room up 35-12.

Kodiak had a good third quarter, and doubled their point total in the period, but were unable to slow Juneau’s offense down. They were able to cut the deficit to 18 at the beginning of the fourth, but were once again held scoreless for more than four minutes as JDHS built their lead back.

JDHS plays again at Ketchikan on Friday, Jan. 29.

Saturday January 23, 2016
Crimson Bears outpace Kodiak on the court - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Senior shooters start hot, JDHS closes game decisively

In the first of a two-game homecoming weekend series Friday, The Juneau-Douglas boys basketball team scorched visiting Kodiak from behind the 3-point line.

Though the hot shooting of JDHS’ seniors led the Crimson Bears (8-2) to victory, sophomore Erik Kelly put the exclamation point on the 75-40 win. With three minutes to go, Kelly stripped his man of the ball at the half-court line and stormed to the other end to throw down a slam dunk and reward the student section with a homecoming highlight.

Hot-handed senior Guy Bean hit five 3-pointers in the contest to lead the Crimson Bears to an emphatic win.

With the help of Bean, the Bears opened up a 25-point lead in the first half and never looked back.

“They started with a 1-3-1 zone, so our team was out on the line,” Bean said. “We had a lot of ball movement, looking for the open man. I was open in the corners a lot.”

Bean led all scorers with 21 points.

Kodiak ((1-4) was led in defeat by senior guard Billy Alcaide with 14.

Though the Bears operated with a big lead most of the game, they never let up their defensive pressure. To JDHS coach Robert Casperson, maintaining intensity on defense is a priority, especially when his team has a big lead.

“Defensively our focus is to maintain our intensity and try to limit their shots,” he said. “…How do we maintain that? They know there’s a guy waiting to come in for them if they take plays off. Everyone on this team can play, so everyone is always ready.”

The game started as a shootout as Bean hit three shots from beyond the arc to open competition but was matched on two of them by Kodiak’s Alcaide. JDHS’ Kaleb Tompkins scored two more 3-pointers in the first quarter to build a 12-point lead for the home team. Senior Hunter Hickok added six in the second quarter and the Crimson Bears went to the locker room up 43-18.

In the third quarter, Casperson’s guys limited Kodiak’s possessions and the offensive pace slowed (a bit) for both teams. Kelly and junior Ulyx Bohulano kept up the defensive energy and built the Bear’s lead to 30 going into the final period.

Read Saturday night’s game story at juneauempire.com.

Sunday January 17, 2016
JDHS boys pull out win against Service - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     Playing in another close, physical match Saturday night, and in a loud, hostile atmosphere, the Service Cougars this time found the breaks going the way of the home team, and fell to the JDHS Bears in regulation.

With under a minute to go, Service’s Xavier Harris hit a 3-pointer, sending the visitors up 56-57. JDHS failed to score on the ensuing possession, but captain Kaleb Thompkins ran the ball down on a Service fast break, and on a hustle play that saw Thompkins run nearly out of the gym and onto Glacier Avenue, slapped the ball off Service’s Harris and earned a key possession back for the Crimson Bears. Thompkins then got to the line and split his shots to tie the game at 59. With 13 seconds left, Service Captain Nathan Fromm then missed a one-and-one, and on a near buzzer beater JDHS forward Erik Kelly netted the winning layup to end the game 61-59.

“The way it ended up I kind of felt like whoever had the ball at the end of the game had the best chance to win,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said.

JDHS was led in scoring by sophomore Erik Kelly with 14, followed closely by Thompkins with 13.

Service’s Nathan Fromm scored 16 and forward Alex Welch had 12.

The role of the raucous JDHS crowd wasn’t lost on Service coach Tyler Moore.

“We had a chance in a hostile environment to win at the end and, you know, missed a couple free throws,” he said.

Though disappointed with the loss, coach Moore saw some great things from his team, who at one point had an 11-point lead.

“I thought we took care of the ball. That was important to us facing that full court press,” he said. “That’s been a struggle for us all year so it was nice to see us take care of the ball a little better.”

The game started out with both teams pressing and playing stingy defense. Junior Bryce Swofford showcased his ability to fill up a stat sheet, getting blocks for his team and limiting Service’s second chances off the glass. Despite Swofford’s play, the Crimson Bears found themselves trailing at the half, 26-33.

“We made some adjustments at halftime and the guys did that, the guys took responsibility for that,” Casperson said. “We put some things on the board and let them make the decisions on how they want their second half to go and they came back and made it an eight-minute ball game.”

Service will head back home having split games playing against each Juneau team. Service defeated Thunder Mountain High School on Friday in overtime. Both games were decided by a total of three points.

Sunday January 17, 2016
Alaskasports.tv and the Crimson Bears
     A big "Thank you" to Larry Johansen of Alaskasports.tv for all his time and effort to deliver the Capital City Clasic and select home games to our fans across the globe through his webcasting service. His professional production, complete with multiple camera angles and instant replay, has been viewed by 100+ family and friends from 6 different countries!

Thursday January 14, 2016
Weekend Sports Preview: 5 home games in 3 nights - Juneau Empire
     The Thunder Mountain High School girls basketball team can at last wear home colors again.

Following a five-game road series last week against Interior teams, the lady Falcons will play at home tonight and Friday against the Sitka Sentinels. On Saturday, the Falcons will again be on the road, or rather 10 miles down the road, against host Juneau-Douglas High School during the teams’ first crosstown rivalry game of the season.

This week marks the second time the lady Sentinels have visited Juneau in the last two weeks. Sitka competed in the Capital City Classic in late December, finishing second to JDHS. Sitka gave up a six-point, fourth-quarter lead to JDHS, losing 34-31.

The biggest question will be if the Crimson Bears’ (5-1) tenacious defense can contain the Falcons’ Ava Tompkins, who averaged more than 13 points per game during TMHS’s last five games on the road, including 20 points in a loss to Bartlett High School on Saturday.

Tonight’s varsity tipoff has been moved up to 7 p.m. and TMHS and Sitka will play again at 6:15 p.m. Friday. JDHS hosts TMHS at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The Falcons and Crimson Bears boys teams will each get a crack at Service this weekend, with the Falcons playing host Friday and JDHS on Saturday. Game time at Thunder Mountain on Friday is at 8 p.m. and at JDHS on Saturday the teams tip-off at 7 p.m.

The Falcons (3-2) are coming off of two home losses to JDHS last weekend. The Crimson Bears (6-2) stumbled on Saturday and allowed the Falcons to take an early first quarter lead, but in both games JDHS leveraged its size and depth on the bench for the wins.

The JDHS hockey team will look to continue its two-game win streak on the road against South Anchorage on Friday and Chugiak on Saturday. Friday’s game starts at 7:15 p.m. and Saturday’s at 6:30 p.m. Those games will be streamed live at AlaskaSports.tv by Archipelago Webcasting.

For game coverage, visit us at juneauempire.com the morning after each game for stories and photos.

Sunday January 10, 2016
Crimson Bears’ depth showcased Saturday in rivalry against Falcons - Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen
     TMHS’ Mielke leads team with 13 on Saturday

Coming off a hotly contested 19-point loss to the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team on Friday, the Thunder Mountain High School Falcons were hungry in their rematch.

TMHS came out Saturday determined to avenge its home court loss the night before, and quickly established a 9-0 lead. However, down the stretch were unable to overcome the Crimson Bears’ size, depth or full-court press, falling to their crosstown rivals for the second night in a row.

The Crimson Bears (6-2) beat the Falcons (3-2) 64-51 by dominating in the paint and wearing their opponents down with a full-court press.

“We had to get a little attitude adjustment there but I feel we responded pretty well,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said, speaking of their early deficit. “... It’s hard to go down 10 to zero or whatever it was and to chip away at it and try and come back, so I told them there are no 10-point shots. We had to get stops and make some buckets. … Thunder Mountain did a great job coming out attacking the basket right away.”

JDHS guard Guy Bean led all scorers with 14, followed by his sophomore teammates, Kolby Hoover and Erik Kelly, who each had 13. Forward Bryce Swafford contributed eight, and seniors Kaleb Tompkins and Molo Maka each had six.

In the fourth quarter JDHS’ depth and size proved insurmountable, with several players coming off the bench to contribute key energy and points to a team that had been in the full-court press most of the game.

“We are building depth, for sure. Some of those younger guys coming off the bench are providing great minutes,” Casperson said. “Molo Maka is a senior but he’s coming off the bench and giving us great life, great defensive rebounds and making some buckets.”

Scoring for the Falcons was led by senior Shane Mielke with 13. Juniors Chase Saviors and Riley Olson each added 10.

TMHS head coach John Blasco saw a lot of positives in his squad Saturday. “I’m happy with the way our guys played tonight, they battled the whole game and it is still a loss but I think we got better tonight.”

TMHS came out of the gate with an inspired energy, and looked to be in control of the game, putting up baskets early and getting steals and turnovers off of a slow-to-start Crimson Bears team.

“Obviously we didn’t like losing last night by 19 on our home court, so we came out with some intensity and started knocking down shots early so momentum was up and we felt good,” Blasco said.

Down nine with four minutes left in the first, JDHS called a timeout and went right into their full-court press, which slowed down TMHS’s attack and stole some of the momentum back for the Crimson Bears. TMHS responded well to the press, but as the second quarter ended the Flacons had lost their lead, tied 25-25.

The third quarter belonged to JDHS, who forced turnovers and jumped to a 10-point lead going into the fourth.

“We had good moments but we also had a stretch of about four turnovers when they got their lead back,” Blasco said.

The Bears continued to press in the fourth, and off the success of their bench, went up by as many as 16. TMHS continued to battle, with senior Shane Mielke getting to the line multiple times and showing a lot of toughness down low against a taller Crimson Bears team. At no point did the TMHS Falcons seem out of the game, but when the buzzer sounded they were 13 points short.

Thunder Mountain looks to bounce back at home against Service at 8 p.m. Jan. 15. Juneau-Douglas’ next tilt is a home game against Service at 7 p.m. Jan. 16.

Saturday January 09, 2016
Tompkins, Bean lead Crimson Bears over host Falcons - Juneau Empire by Charles L. Westmoreland
     TMHS's Luke Clark leads team with 13 points in rivalry game

The Thunder Mountain High School boys basketball team nearly matched Juneau-Douglas High School through three quarters of action on Friday, but it wasn’t able to overcome a sizeable first quarter deficit or a height disadvantage in the paint.

The Crimson Bears (5-2) bested the Falcons (3-1) on their home court 66-47 by limiting opportunities inside during a fast-paced contest that included lots of scoring, fouling and free throws by both teams.

“These region games are so hotly contested,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “… I wasn’t comfortable with that game until the last three minutes because I know they have guys who can get going fairly quickly.”

JDHS forward Kaleb Tompkins and guard Guy Bean led all scorers with 17 each. Starting point guard Treyson Ramos contributed six. The Crimson Bears depth was one of its greatest advantages, with Ulix Bohulano scoring nine coming off the bench, Kolby Hoover adding seven and Erik Kelly contributing five.

“I felt like it was going pretty good,” Tompkins said of his team’s performance. “My teammates really stepped it up today and we got a victory. (TMHS) did a pretty good job (on defense), so I just tried to contribute. Guy Bean did most of the scoring, so I just tried to do what I can.”

JDHS’s 6-foot-7 center Bryce Swofford limited what the Falcons could do down low, blocking four shots in the first three quarters. The Crimson Bears also controlled the boards and limited the Falcons to a single shot.

“Would you go in there with 6-5 and 6-7?” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “They take away the paint with the big bodies, they’re shot blockers.”

TMHS forward Luke Clark lead his team with 13 points, followed by Chase Saviers with 11, Josh McAndrews with five, and Shane Mielke and Noah Rieshus-O’Brien added four each.

Both teams combined for 47 fouls leading to 57 shots from the free throw line on the night.

TMHS came out ready to compete, matching baskets with JDHS through the first four minutes of play to trail 11-8. Then JDHS broke off an 11-1 run late in the quarter to end the first period up 22-9.

JDHS’s Tompkins scored 11 of his team’s first 13 points. TMHS’s Saviers scored seven of his team’s nine points in the first quarter. By the end of the first quarter, however, the fouls had racked up and both teams were in the bonus.

“That’s high school kids playing hard, they’re giving it everything they’ve got,” Casperson said. “Sometimes they lose control and bang into each other.”

The Crimson Bears started the second quarter with a 12-6 run when Thunder Mountain pushed back with an 8-2 run of its own behind 3-pointers from Reishus-O’Brien and Clark, and a layup by Finn Collins to end the half at 36-23.

“A perimeter team is going to live and die by the three,” Blasco said. “We got good looks … but they didn’t fall. Once you get down by double digits, your mindset changes. We changed a few things defensively (after the first quarter), but a lot of it was the energy, nervousness in the first quarter. It’s our first home game in front of a large crowd and the kids were all excited. They’re a very tough matchup for us.”

In the third quarter, it was the Crimson Bears’ Bean who led the charge, scoring 10 in the quarter by slashing through the lane and scooping in layups. The Falcons kept pace, with Saviers knocking down four free throws, Josh McAndrews sank a 3-pointer and Clark knocked down two long-range jumpers to end the quarter 51-36. By the end of the third, both teams were in the bonus again and three Crimson Bears players were in foul trouble.

JDHS started the fourth with an 11-1 run to put the game out of reach midway through the fourth quarter for its largest lead of the game. The Falcons scored only three field goals in the quarter while shooting 5-of-8 from the free throw line. JDHS also had three field goals but shot 9-of-11 from the free throw line after struggling from the charity stripe earlier in the game.

“We had a few more layups go in, … so that made a difference for us later in the game,” Casperson said. “And they had to start shooting more jumpers that weren’t going in. If they hit a few of those shots along the way, the tone of that fourth quarter completely changes.”

JDHS made 21 field goals on the night, two from 3-point distance, and shot 18-of-35 from the free throw line. The Falcons made nine field goals, four from long range, and hit 17 of 24 free throws. Two of the Crimson Bears’ starters, Hunter Hickock and Ramos, fouled out in the fourth, as did reserve player Molo Maka.

“I like the depth of my bench, if we can stay in the game,” Blasco said. “We got a few players of theirs in foul trouble, but then their others players stepped up. Ulix (Bohulano) had a nice game, Kolby (Hoover) had a nice game, so their bench stepped up to cover them when they were in foul trouble.

The Crimson Bears and Falcons play again at 8 p.m. Saturday. Due to press deadlines that game won’t appear in the Sunday edition, but fans can read it online at juneauempire.com.