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Friday February 13, 2015
Juneau-Douglas boys top Kenai 63-50 - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The Juneau-Douglas High School varsity basketball teams hosted Kenai on Thursday at JDHS, with the Crimson Bears boys running past the Kardinals 63-50 as the JDHS girls fell to their visitors, 34-16.

JDHS junior Kaleb Tompkins hit a shot from the arch just 10 seconds into the game and senior Bruce Jones put in a shot on the next possession as the Crimson Bears never trailed.

Kenai got within two points with 6:44 remaining in the first quarter on three straight free throws by sophomore Josh Jackman to trail 5-3, but Jones scored on a lob from junior Guy Bean, then stole a pass out of the press and fed junior Bryce Swofford for a score.

Swofford blocked the next Kenai shot and Jones fed Tompkins and the Crimson Bears were never challenged again as they opened a 22-11 first quarter lead.

“Early on we were able to get things going,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “Our defense was disrupting what they wanted to do offensively and we definitely were able to attack the rim and finish some baskets. It kind of felt like we were firing on all cylinders.”

An 11-3 JDHS run to start the second quarter and an 8-3 run to end it put the Crimson Bears on top 41-17 at the half.

JDHS led 51-27 starting the final eight minutes of play. Kenai outscored JDHS 23-12 in the fourth quarter but the Crimson Bears closed out the game for the 63-50 win.

“They are a dangerous team,” Casperson said. “They play really hard and they don’t quit. They cut that 25-point lead down. We know they are going to play hard. They had a tough day of travel and when they got in they went to the visit the Legislature. I am sure with a good night’s rest it will turn into a nice little series, getting to play Thunder Mountain Friday and then us again on Saturday.”

Swofford led the Crimson Bears with 11 points, Jones, Tompkins and Bean added 8 each, senior Nathan Klein 7, freshman Erik Kelly 6, senior Gunnar Schultz and junior Treyson Ramos 4 apiece, senior Jacob Thibodeau 3 and freshman Kolby Hoover and senior John Yadao 2 apiece.

JDHS hit 22 field goals, 5 more from beyond the arch and went 4-8 at the charity stripe.

Kenai had 14 field goals, 3 from deep and hit 13-21 at the line.

The Kardinals were led by a game-high 19 points from Jackman, senior Austin McKee added 10, senior Tanner Wortham 7, junior Marshall Vest 5, junior Taylor Landry 4, junior Keith Ivy 3 and senior Jonah Theisen two.

Sunday February 08, 2015
Falcons, Crimson Bears put on a hoops show - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     TMHS boys win 74-67 Friday, JDHS rebounds with 65-59 win Saturday

The two warriors were covered in sweat.

Standing exhausted outside the opposing locker rooms of Juneau-Douglas High School after the second consecutive night of end-to-end, wire-to-wire basketball action, there was little except the scoreboard separating winner from loser.

“It was exhausting,” Juneau-Douglas coach Robert Casperson said, catching a moment as the Crimson Bears celebrated their 65-59 win Saturday night.

Fifty feet away, his opponent also leaned wearily against the wall.

“Both of us are working very hard for our kids,” Thunder Mountain coach John Blasco said. “We want them to have the best chance of succeeding, and it is our job to put them in the best spots. It is draining because we want them to win.”

JDHS and TMHS finished a series that has further muddled the Southeast Conference standings and put questions into the air as to who is the top team in Juneau.

The Falcons won on Friday 74-69, and Saturday’s game appeared to be headed for the same outcome.

The Falcons inched into a 27-20 first quarter lead after the Crimson Bears took an early advantage, exactly like the previous night.

On Saturday, TMHS senior Jacob Calloway and junior Shane Mielke drained deep shots from the opposite corners to start the Falcons’ run.

Callaway hit nine of his game-high 19 points in the first stanza for TMHS, and junior Kaleb Tompkins hit seven of his 19-points in the same stretch for JDHS.

In the second quarter, Crimson Bears senior Bruce Jones blocked a shot to begin play and junior Guy Bean was rewarded with a shot on the other end.

The Falcons responded and went on a 13-6 run, including a steal and basket by Calloway to end the half up 40-28.

JDHS began the third quarter with a 12-2 run, slicing the Falcons’ lead to two points. The run was generated by baskets from sophomore Bryce Swofford and senior John Yadao, and after Calloway scored for the Falcons, JDHS put up another 9-2 surge to take the lead, 49-44. Junior Molo Maka added a rebound bucket for a 51-46 lead entering the final eight minutes.

“I feel like we finally did the things that we talked about doing from the start of the game,” Casperson said. “We talked about playing better defense and closing out harder. Maybe the course of the last two days took its toll, but it finally started to click for us and we hit some shots and got some good looks offensively and broke them down. It’s a high school basketball game. This isn’t the NBA. A 12-point lead can go away pretty quickly. I was proud of the guys for committing to the defense in the second half.”

Key to the second half turnaround was Tompkins defending Calloway and the Crimson Bears’ help-side defense. The Falcons scored just six points in the third quarter, Calloway just two.

“I was just pumped up,” Tompkins said. “I knew we could get them in the second half so I just tried my hardest. My teammates have a lot of heart, that’s the bottom line. I just had to stay low and stay focused, that was it, that was the key.”

TMHS pulled within four points, 58-54, with 2:48 remaining, but Calloway was whistled for his fourth personal foul.

A basket by JDHS junior Treyson Ramos and a free throw by senior Nathan Klein pushed the advantage to six.

After sophomore Chase Saviers hit a pair at the line for TMHS and stole the ensuing pass, Tompkins made a big defensive block.

Calloway was whistled for his fifth personal with less than a minute remaining, and JDHS closed out the win.

“We had a very good first half and they had a better second half,” Blasco said. “They beat us in every aspect of the game in the second half. JD has some top talent in the state and we have Jacob Calloway, who obviously is one of the better players in the state. The kids are battling it out all the way to the end. His group did a better job in the second half tonight. We tip our hats to them.”

Swofford added 12 points for the Crimson Bears. Jones had nine, Yadao seven, Ramos six, Klein five, Bean four, and Molo Maka three.

RJ Manning added 10 points for the Falcons. Mielke, Saviers and Riley Olsen had seven each, Trent Uddipa four, Moa Maka three and Collin Ludeman two.

JDHS was 8-17 at the line, TMHS went 12-15.

Opening shots

On Friday, the Crimson Bears were shocked by deadly outside shooting by Falcons senior Jacob Calloway and junior Moa Maka.

Calloway tallied a game-high 31 points and Maka added 20.

The Crimson Bears even gave center Jones a chance at guarding his close friend. Jones responded with two blocks on Calloway but also had a foul.

“It is fun to play against him because it is high competition,” Calloway said. “I like winning against him. They are a really good team; we have to come prepared for tomorrow, we can’t take this win for too long.”

Swofford also got time to try to slow the Falcons star.

Although Juneau took the early 6-0 lead, Calloway responded with a steal and a basket and then hit over Jones. TMHS sophomore Riley Olsen hit from deep and the game went back and forth until TMHS’ Ludeman and Uddipa brought the score to within three at 14-11 to end the first period.

“I think we didn’t defend very well,” Casperson said. “They shot the ball really well. They got a lot of really good open looks the way we knew they were looking to get them, off dribble penetration. They have a stable of really quick guards and that is what hurt us. We have to do a better job of containing the dribbler.”

The Crimson Bears did not respond to the deadly touch of Maka who connected on four shots from beyond the arch in the game, including two in the second quarter. The first tied the game at 21-21 with 5:43 remaining before halftime.

Maka then hit a basket for a two-point lead.

“It feels good,” Maka said. My teammates were giving me the ball. It was no surprise they were going in.”

After two more lead changes, Olsen connected with a deep shot for a 29-28 Falcons’ advantage.

JDHS’ Treyson Ramos put the Crimson Bears back on top, but Maka connected past the arch again for a 32-30 advantage and Calloway made an old-fashioned three-point play for a 35-30 lead.

JDHS’ Nathan Klein tipped in a shot before the half.

“Great for him,” Casperson said of Maka. “He is a really great kid, he works hard, and he has battled through injuries. I like that kid a lot. For him to have some success in a big game like that, I am happy for him; he’s a really nice kid.”

The lead was never more than four points until less than two minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

The Falcons took the lead with 49 seconds remaining in the third quarter as Maka hit seven straight points for a 45-43 advantage and Calloway answered two free throws by JDHS’ Klein for a 47-45 lead going into the final eight minutes.

Tompkins scored to open the fourth for JDHS and then stole the ball off a trap for another basket and a 49-47 advantage.

Olsen answered with a deep shot for the Falcons’ 50-49 lead.

JDHS’ Klein tied the game with one free throw and Bean gave them a 53-50 lead from deep for their last advantage.

The Falcons got baskets by Saviers, Calloway and Olsen to regain momentum and kept at least a three-point margin to the end.

Olsen added 11 points for the Falcons, Uddipa six, and Andes, Saviers and Manning two each.

Tompkins led JDHS with 16 points, Jones added 13, Klein 11, Ramos nine, Yadao eight, Bean six and Swofford four.

JDHS is 2-2 in the SEC. Crimson Bears losses were to TM Friday and KTN 74-59 at JDHS. Wins have been over TM and KTN 61-47 at JDHS.

TMHS is 2-4 in the SEC. The Falcons have won 61-56 over KTN on the road and at JDHS Friday. The Falcons lost on the road to JDHS and to KTN 68-63 and to KTN at TMHS 58-51 and 69-67.

Ketchikan is 4-2 in the SEC.

Friday February 06, 2015
Crimson Bears boys host Falcons this weekend - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain looking forward to cross-town conference collision

Poll standings will not be at stake this weekend when the Juneau-Douglas High School boys host Thunder Mountain in a Southeast Conference showdown at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, but bragging rights for the first two games of the crosstown series between the Crimson Bears and Falcons will be.

“Obviously we are coming off two tough losses to Kayhi,” Thunder Mountain coach John Blasco said. “And back-to-back games down at Juneau-Douglas is going to be a very energetic environment, being crosstown rivalry games and conference games. I think both teams are going to be excited to play with a lot of energy and adrenaline going.”

The Falcons will not want to repeat their first-half performance from their loss to Kayhi on Monday. They trailed 35-24 at the break but battled back to within two points with minutes remaining, then went back and forth on possessions with the Kings.

“Obviously going down double-digits into halftime is not a place where a coach wants to be,” Blasco said. “I love the fact that we continue to fight and not give up.”

The Falcons’ 7-7 overall record this season includes all seven losses by 7 points or fewer. Three of those seven were in overtime, and one was at the buzzer.

“The kids are competing to the end,” Blasco said. “They are not giving up.”

Although the Crimson Bears and Falcons are not rated in the top five of the weekly Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches poll, the two Juneau schools, along with Ketchikan, will be in a dog fight to determine which team will earn a state tournament bid outright with a Region V tournament win or a possible strength of schedule invite if they are the runner-up.

Seeding in the region tourney will be important, and this weekend is crucial in that process.

“We are hoping to build on our success against Ketchikan,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “Not only did that weekend with Ketchikan in town give us a chance to play a couple conference games but it gave us a chance to see a couple conference games between Thunder Mountain and Ketchikan, how they approach each other and try to learn from those situations.”

JDHS is 1-1 in the SEC, having lost to Kayhi 74-59 last Friday and having beaten the Kings 61-47 Saturday; TMHS is 1-3 in the SEC, all against Kayhi, winning at Ketchikan 61-56, losing there 68-63, and dropping two at TMHS — 58-51 and 69-67 last week.

“Ketchikan is a solid team,” Blasco said. “Throughout their top seven or eight guys they don’t really drop off at all. Kayhi has bigger bodies across the board than JD or I do, from the point guard to the center.”

The Falcons found a way to be in each game down the stretch, something that the Crimson Bears observed firsthand.

“The main thing is we need to be prepared and try to get ready for the things that we have seen Thunder Mountain do,” Casperson said. “They have a stable of quick little guards who have been tough to contain for a lot of teams around the state … even their 6-7 Calloway is a guard. They present some unique challenges and pose a whole host of problems for us. It should be exciting. It seems to be the game that everyone really looks forward to and everyone likes to come and support their teams. We are hoping to come away with some success either through victory or experience. It is all about preparing for the end of the season. We would love to have an opportunity to get into the regions with the No. 1 seed, but that is really the farthest thing from our minds. Our focus is just on trying to improve our execution on the things we want to do for Friday, February sixth … not anytime beyond that.”

No one knows the Crimson Bears and Falcons better this season than Ketchikan coach Eric Stockhausen. The Kings are 4-2 in the SEC after last weekend’s four-game stand in Juneau.

“There has to be something in the water in Juneau,” Stockhausen said. “Because all those Juneau basketball players can shoot, they have some good size on both teams and they are both well coached. They are not too different. I think you are going to see more pressure from Juneau-Douglas in the full court and you are going to see more half-court defensive pressure from Thunder Mountain. I think coach Blasco does a really nice job of studying the other team and trying to put his boys in a really good half-court defensive setting. I think coach Casperson looks to go a little deeper in his bench and tries to get into your legs a little bit. They are similar in a lot of ways and there are just slight differences. I think with the twin towers of Juneau-Douglas, their inside presence is something to be leery of or to look for ... I think the shooting prowess of Thunder Mountain is notable. I asked the kids who the shooters were out there on the floor we needed to defend and they replied, ‘all of them.’ Either way, those will be exciting games. I am really impressed with a lot of the kids we played against last weekend. Last year to this year, one that really stood out is Bruce Jones; he has really become a crafty big guy that shoots the ball well. Calloway is just as tough as anybody we are going to play. It should be interesting. I think Tompkins and Bean shoot the ball incredibly well ... Saviers, Uddipa and Mielke have hurt us in our games. It is kind of pick your poison. It really depends on which kids are playing well. If you tell me one part of a certain team’s game is not going to be on than you have an idea of who is going to win, but, just like our games, each night is completely different. I think it is going to be a lot of fun for the basketball fans in Juneau ... great kids, good programs, and if they played multiple 17-overtime games, I would love it.”

So how does Ketchikan play to earn success against Juneau’s two high schools?

“We have to take care of the ball,” Stockhausen said. “Both teams can get you to turn the ball over just in different fashions. The quick guards from Thunder Mountain can get by you and cause contact. There is not, necessarily, as much penetration by Juneau-Douglas, but they can get it inside on a post entry pass and it has the same effect, it puts you in a scrambling defensive position where you have to protect the rim. So like when Trent (Uddipa) or Chase (Saviers) penetrate around us it is the same thing when they throw it into Bruce (Jones) or Swoff (Bryce Swofford). We have to rotate and protect the rim, which opens up your shooters. It is the same end result but it is the manner in which they get the ball in the middle of the paint of the two teams. And they both have shooters that can hurt you. We have to keep the ball out of the middle when we play both teams because once it is in the middle your options are a lot more open than if the ball stays outside.”

JDHS and TMHS tip off at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at JDHS gym. The JD JV plays Klawock at 6:15 p.m. Friday and the TMHS JV on Saturday. JD and TM C teams play both nights at 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday February 04, 2015
Top players make the game special - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Juneau's Special Olympic Basketball Team wows the halftime crowd

Halftime entertainment is often a chance to head to the popcorn stand — unless it is the Super Bowl or one of the two Juneau high school dance teams. On Saturday at the Juneau-Douglas High School gym, the crowd was glued to their seats or jumping with excitement as the Juneau Special Olympics Basketball team played an exhibition game during the halftime break of the matchup between JDHS and the Ketchikan Kings.

The Crimson Bears have partnered with the Special Olympics and first met the team at the “I did. You can” basketball camp last June at JDHS.

On Saturday, the JDHS and Kayhi players lined the floor to watch the action and the JDHS cheerleaders formed a tunnel to welcome the Olympians onto the floor.

It was hard to tell who wore the bigger smiles as the players came through red pompoms and raised arms.

Alec Tolles sprinted through the tunnel, Ray Carpenter walked with his head high, Andres Jones ran with his right arm raised toward the ceiling, Jacob Lewis held a basketball above his head and others carried grins from ear to ear.

“That was so much fun,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “I was very proud of the effort the Special Olympics players gave. They had a ton of fun out there. The crowd really got into it and did an amazing job supporting the athletes. It was great to hear the cheers erupt every time they scored a basket.”

JDHS junior varsity players refereed and participated in the game while the Crimson Bears cheered and gave standing ovations and high-fives. The pep band also played for the athletes.

“It was an amazing experience to be a part of,” Casperson said.

The Juneau Special Olympic basketball team includes Jesse Quick, Leroy George, Kristina Brown, Chloe Deitrick, Alec Tolles, Ray Carpenter, Jacob Mallinger, Andres Jones, Jacob Lewis, Chris Brenner and Chavi Jones.

These athletes have been practicing weekly, and their season runs from March through May.

The Alaska Special Olympic Games are the second Saturday in June at Anchorage and include sports such as basketball, swimming, track, gymnastics and power lifting. Juneau competes in basketball and swimming.

The Juneau Special Olympics basketball team has won a gold medal in the past and took silver last year.

Sunday February 01, 2015
Crimson Bears boys split with Ketchikan Kings - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     JDHS makes conference interesting with 74-59 loss, 61-47 win

Southeast Conference 4A basketball games cannot be taken lightly.

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team found that out first-hand on Friday and Saturday at the JDHS gym against the visiting Ketchikan Kings, falling 74-59 and then making the SEC interesting with a 61-47 win.

“Our region games are going to be dog fights, “ Casperson said. “They are going to be a lot of fun and exciting. I don’t feel like we lived up to the billing on Friday. I don’t feel like we responded to the opportunity that was presented to us.”

On Saturday, the Crimson Bears scored the first basket of the game with senior Bruce Jones’ pass to junior Treyson Ramos on a backdoor cut, and JDHS never trailed.

“We went a lot harder,” Jones said. “Yesterday we were not going 100 percent and they wanted it more yesterday. We came out today and just wanted it more.”

JDHS led 17-10 starting the second quarter, and when Ketchikan closed to within two points at 19-17, junior Guy Bean connected on back-to-back shots, junior Kaleb Tompkins hit a basket and Jones blocked a shot.

The Crimson Bears took a 28-24 lead into the half as Kayhi’s Nathan Bonck and Jason James kept them in the game.

JDHS opened the third quarter with baskets by Tompkins and Jones and pushed out to a 10-point advantage.

“We just really didn’t like the loss,” Tompkins said. “We just wanted it a lot. I just really wanted to win.”

Kayhi’s Mo Bullock was held to just six points by Jones and Bryce Swofford on the night; the tallies came in the fourth quarter.

“Today I just guarded him harder,” Jones said. “Yesterday his shots were mostly perimeter. Today I just tried to shut him down and we did our best.”

Swofford, Tompkins and Jones opened the final quarter with scores and the Crimson Bears took a 12-point lead. Kayhi cut the margin to nine points with 2:38 remaining, but JDHS went on a 7-2 run with scores by Nathan Klein, Tompkins and Jones. Swofford sealed the win with two free throws and Bullock hit the last basket of the game for Kayhi.

Tompkins led JDHS with 22 points, Jones had 13, Bean seven, Swofford six, Ramos and Klein five apiece, Gunnar Schultz two and John Yadao one.

Jason James led Kayhi with 13 points, Alex Pihl had 11, Ned Day 10, Bullock six, Matt Standley five and Bonck two.

“We made some adjustments defensively,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “The guys wanted to change some matchups around and I appreciated that they were willing to take on that responsibility themselves. That is the sign of an experienced group of guys, which was on the kids. I think that made the difference for us. We entered the game with a different mindset. This was a good win for us.”

The Crimson Bears are now 1-1 in the SEC, Kayhi is 2-2 and Thunder Mountain is 1-2 with a game to play against the Kings on Monday at TMHS.

First game

On Friday, JDHS had the task of slowing down Ketchikan’s do-it-all senior guard Pihl and inside junior force Bullock.

While Tompkins made the initial defensive pressure, little help came from off the ball and Pihl collected a game-high 19 points.

Crimson Bears Jones and Swofford made strong contributions in the middle but second chance shots gave Bullock 16 points on the night.

Tompkins still netted a team-high 14 points for the Crimson Bears and Jones added 12.

“I really did not expect Kaleb to be a scoring threat because of all the effort we asked him to put out on defense,” Casperson said. “He had a really solid game for us.”

JDHS led by five points, 19-15, after the first quarter on Friday, getting 3-pointers from senior Gunnar Schultz, Tompkins and six points inside from Jones.

Pihl hit a lone three for Kayhi and the Kings’ Bullock and Jason James balanced the scoring.

Ketchikan ended the second quarter with a flury, outscoring the Crimson Bears 28-11, and putting in a highlight shot at the buzzer.

After Pihl hit his second 3-pointer of the quarter with five seconds remaining for a 41-30 lead and his 17th point of the game, the Kings’ Casey Hendricks deflected a JDHS pass and threw it to Bullock who caught it in the air and laid it off the glass to beat the score clock.

“They are a dangerous team,” Casperson said. “They seem to play in spurts, and very successful spurts. They got some shots to go and when that happens it can be contagious.”

The Kings hit six of their eight 3-pointers in the first half. JDHS had three from deep in the first quarter and three in the fourth.

“We went cold,” Casperson said. “We tried to match them in a three-for-three kind of thing and fell in love with the jump shot. We had good balance in the first quarter and good spacing and we were moving the ball to get those shots. Second quarter it was a lot of stand and stare, we did not have good balance.”

JDHS did not respond in the third quarter and trailed 57-39 starting the final stanza.

“We made a good push in the fourth quarter and cut it down to 11,” Casperson said. “But Ketchikan did a great job. They play hard and execute what they need to. Certainly on paper we look like we have size, we have some quickness and it looks like a good situation for us, but, bottom line, you still have to play the game. And teams like to play us hard.”

Schultz added 11 points for Juneau, Yadao and Swofford seven apiece, Bean four, Ramos three, and Molo Maka one.

James added 11 points for the Kings, Standley nine, Bonck seven, Jake Smith six, Jordan Sader two and Brent Taylor one.

JDHS hit 14 field goals and went 13-18 at the charity stripe; Ketchikan hit 17 field goals and 16-24 at the line.

Thursday January 29, 2015
Ketchikan Kings make conference swing - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The first major Southeast Conference home stands for the Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball teams begin tonight with the Ketchikan Kings playing at TMHS.

The Falcons will tip off against the Kings tonight at 8 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m.

The ball will bounce at JDHS as well when the Crimson Bears host the Kings at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

“Every time you play Ketchikan, you can always expect something a little bit different,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “Stockhausen is a good coach who is always tweaking things, adding new things, and he has smart kids who run a lot of different sets and give you a lot of different looks. We can expect things to be different than they were when we went down there a couple weeks ago.”

Ketchikan and Thunder Mountain are tied atop the SEC with 1-1 records after the Falcons traveled to Kayhi Jan. 16-17, winning 61-56 and losing 68-63. JDHS has not played a conference game this season.

“If you look at our second halves, obviously we came out and put up some points,” Blasco said. “It is hard to say what that attributes to. They have some better physical matchups than we do and so we will have to make adjustments defensively.”

Ketchikan defeated JDHS in the Region V tournament twice last season: 50-38 to open play and 59-54 in the elimination game after the Kings lost to TMHS. The second loss ended the Crimson Bears’ hope for a return to the state tournament after a two-year absence.

Thunder MOuntain then topped the Kings in the region title game 71-61 to earn its second straight state tourney trip.

“That is still fresh on my mind,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “They have had tough teams and I highly anticipate region being very competitive this year and the conference games are going to be dog fights. We are coming off a weekend off, and it has given us the chance to work on some areas of need and tighten some things up. We need to do better coming off of screens, just our execution … and make quicker rotations defensively. We got lots of good reps on that kind of stuff.”

Ketchikan has not made the state tournament since back-to-back trips in 2004 and 2005.

“We know that Ketchikan has had some success around the state this year, and they split with Thunder Mountain,” Casperson said. “They play extremely hard. They always seem to be fired up and ready to play when they come to Juneau. We know that they will cut hard, play good defense and they never quit. They are a well-coached team. Conference games are starting up, and that is always an exciting time of year. Every game is important from here on out, getting ready for regionals.”

Ketchikan recently played at South Anchorage High School’s O’Brady’s Invitational, winning the seventh-place game 44-42 over Glennallen. The Kings had opened the tourney with a 64-63 overtime loss to Nome, then lost 70-68 on a buzzer-beater to Lathrop. Nome won the tourney 53-31 over South.

The Falcons and Crimson Bears will have to slow down Kayhi senior 6-foot-2 co-captain guard Alex Pihl, who led the Kings with 17 points against Glennallen.

Pihl only scored six points in the loss to TMHS but netted 15 in his team’s win over the Falcons.

Inside, the Kings look to 6-foot-4 junior Mo Bullock, who tallied 14 and six points in respective games against TMHS, and improving 6-foot-5 junior Nathan Bonck.

“You are going to see two teams that have a lot of respect for one another’s programs,” Blasco said. “And are going to compete hard in a conference game for the right to win regions. We know that our last two conference games this weekend are against each other. These games matter because we won’t play them again until regions. I think both teams are going to give nothing short than their best effort and best competition. It is a natural rivalry because it is a conference team. Last year is past success. This year is a completely different team for both of us and the outcome is still to be determined. It is a good rivalry between the two, it is good healthy competition on the court. Stockhausen wants to go to state, I want to go to state, both our teams want to go to state … the same with JD. Everyone is fighting for the same thing, so it is a good rivalry.”

The Falcons and Kings don’t have the prime-time Friday/Saturday matchup, but the TMHS pep band alone helps attract fans and energizes the Falcons players.

“We have seen and split with Thunder Mountain; they are a really good team,” Ketchikan coach Eric Stockhausen said. “Some of their guys really stepped up for them … Trent (Uddipa) and Chase (Saviers) were just amazing when they needed them to be. That gives us a little more to thing about, on top of Jacob (Calloway) who is known as a top player in the state. We are going to take the game as it comes and make adjustments as to how things are going. We have seen several films on Juneau, they are definitely a threat too. They shoot the ball well, they have the two big guys (Bruce Jones, Bryce Swofford) who are high energy. It is going to be a tough weekend for us. We are just hopeful to try and do the things we have worked on and get better.”

The Kings have five players averaging 10 points per game or better on the season: Pihl, Bullock, 6-foot junior guard Matt Standley, 6-foot-2 junior guard Jason James and 6-foot-2 senior guard Ned Day.

“We can score from a lot of different areas,” Stockhausen said. “Right now we are not as predictable as teams we have had in the past. If the teams want to take one or two guys away, they are going to open up the floor a little bit for my other guys. We are balanced in a way we haven’t been since I have been here.”

In the Nome loss, Pihl and James scored 14 apiece and Standley 11; against Lathrop, Bullock scored 29 and Day 19.

This week’s action is the closest thing to a region tourney setting without a title on the line.

“It is the best dress rehearsal for regions because in regions you are going to play one of the Juneau schools one night,” Stockhausen said. “And regardless, for whatever reason, you will play the other one the next night. We do that twice.”

The Kings play at TMHS and then JDHS, repeat the next day against JDHS, have Super Bowl Sunday off and then play on the Falcons’ floor again.

“Making that transition from one team to the other, I think it is a dress rehearsal for what is eventually going to happen in March,” Stockhausen said.

An extra game will be played at halftime of Saturday’s clash at JDHS.

The Crimson Bears are partnering with the Special Olympics and will host a five-minute exhibition game between members of the Juneau Special Olympics basketball team.

That team includes players Jesse Quick, Leroy George, Kristina Brown, Chloe Deitrick, Alec Tolles, Ray Carpenter, Jacob Mallinger, Andres Jones, Jacob Lewis, Chris Brenner and Chavi Jones.

These athletes have been practicing weekly, and their season runs from March through May.

The Alaska Special Olympic Games are the second Saturday in June at Anchorage and include sports such as basketball, swimming, track, gymnastics and power lifting. Juneau competes in basketball and swimming. The basketball team has won a gold medal in the past and took silver last year.

JDHS basketball players partnered with the special Olympic players during a special needs basketball camp held last June at JDHS.

“That was where we got to meet some of these athletes,” Casperson said. “We are pretty excited for it. We thought this would be a good way to partner up again and let them have a chance to play in front of a good crowd and showcase their talents. The Special Olympic athletes play really hard and they really have lot of fun when they are out there. It is not about winning and losing; it is about how hard they work.”

Sunday January 11, 2015
Crimson Bears boys finding groove - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     JDHS splits final games at 2015 Alaska Prep Shootout

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team defeated Kenai 69-63 on Friday and fell to Anchorage Christian 70-59 on Saturday to finish in sixth place at the 2015 Alaska Prep Shootout at Dimond High School.

The Crimson Bears played with intensity to start Friday’s game, opening a 20-13 first quarter advantage and leading 33-24 at the half.

“Our goal was to put a lot of pressure on them,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “We used a lot of traps in full court and that made a difference for us.”

Kenai closed to within five, 46-41, starting the final quarter.

“I don’t know if we were used to playing out in front,” Casperson said. “Kenai is a scrappy team and they battled back and made the game interesting. Usually we are in that position. When we are in those situations we are trying to get teams to turn the ball over or forget to block out. When we are playing from in front, we have to make sure that we take care of the ball and block out defensively. It was a good part of the learning process for us.”

Guy Bean led the Crimson Bears with 23 points, Bruce Jones added 11, Treyson Ramos 9, Gunnar Schultz 8, John Yadao 6, Kaleb Tompkins 5, Nathan Klein 4, Jacob Thibodeau 2 and Manase Maake 1.

“We had a lot of guys contribute on the floor,” Casperson said. “Molo Maka came off the bench to give Nathan a rest and immediately had a couple of blocked shots and grabbed some rebounds. He is kind of our energy guy — a Dennis Rodman-type of player. ... He asked me who that was, so we sat down and talked about him. I told him he does not need to change his hair color or get tattoos though.”

Keith Ivy led Kenai with 16 points, and Jonah Theisen, Josh Jackman and Kyle Foree added 11 each in the cause.

JDHS shot 22-of-45 from the field, including 6-of-10 from beyond the arch, and hit 19-of-25 from the charity stripe. Kenai was 23-of-60 from the field, including 6-of-17 from deep, and 11-of-18 at the line.

On Saturday the Crimson Bears ran into top 3A state contender Anchorage Christian.

“ACS is a tough opponent,” Casperson said. “That is a good opponent.”

The Lions jumped out to a 27-14 lead behind Trey Huckabay, who scored a game-high 24 points on the night. “I yanked the starters after they gave up 16 points in the first three minutes,” Casperson said. “I put in a new five and they did a little better. I don’t know if we can continue a Jekyll-and-Hyde approach to the game. I told the guys after the game that whatever feeling they get when they are in their recovery mode and fighting and clawing to come back, they need to bottle that and start with that.”

ACS led 33-24 at the half and 49-35 starting the final eight minutes.

“We went hard to the glass in the fourth quarter,” Casperson said. “We blocked out like we were supposed to, we rotated quickly on defense but it was too little, too late. The damage was done. If we would have played like that in the beginning the outcome would have been different.”

Schultz led the Crimson Bears with 14 points, Bean added 12, Jones 10, Yadao 7, Ramos 5, Tompkins 4, Bryce Swofford 3, Thibodeau and Klein 2 apiece.

Bobby Wilson added 12 points for the Lions, Zack Bronson 7, Randy Kohutek 3, Tyler Scott 2, Brett Dickerson and Uri Simmers 1 apiece.

JDHS hit 20-of-63 field goals, including 8-of-22 from deep, and went 11-of-17 at the line. ACS was 20-of-44 from the field, including 10-of-21 from deep, and hit 20-of-31 at the line.

The Crimson Bears had just 5 turnovers compared to the Lions’ 11.

“We have to play with a sense of urgency,” Casperson said. “There is a finite number of games you get to play in your high school career and you can’t waste quarters, or halves or entire games. This is something that should be exciting for them and they should get out there with the anticipation of competing from the get-go.”

The Crimson Bears boys will play Wasilla at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at home.

Friday January 09, 2015
Grizzlies squeak past Crimson Bears 70-63 - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     JDHS junior Guy Bean scores 28 in the loss

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team fell in a tight game to the Grace Christian Grizzlies in the opening round of the 2015 Alaska Prep Shootout on Thursday at Dimond High School in Anchorage.

JDHS junior Guy Bean was 8-13 from beyond the arch on his way to a game-high 28 points for the Crimson Bears.

“Guy responded to his opportunity in the starting lineup,” Juneau-Douglas coach Robert Casperson said. “He was pretty excited for it. He told me he was nervous and I said that was ok. I told him I didn’t expect him to play perfect but I did expect him to give us a perfect effort and he came out and tried to do both.”

Also starting for JDHS were Bruce Jones, Treyson Ramos, Kaleb Tompkins and Bryce Swofford.

Grace led 18-11 starting the second quarter and 36-27 at the half. The Grizzlies were up 49-41 starting the final stanza.

JDHS outscored Grace 22-21 in the last eight minutes of play and closed to within five points midway through the quarter.

Kaleb Tompkins added nine points for the Crimson Bears, Bruce Jones eight, Treyson Ramos and Nathan Klein five apiece, Bryce Swofford four, Gunnar Schultz and John Yadao two apiece.

“One of the things we had today, and we saw it early on, was the effects of rust on Bruce in regards to this being his first game of the year,” Casperson said. “He was kind of feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders. He wanted to perform better but, I tell you what, his first game wasn’t terrible. I am encouraged at what I saw. He was aggressive in the post and gave us a great attacking post presence.”

Trevor Osborne led the Grizzlies with 27 points, Tobin Karlberg 23, Brogan Nieder 11, Ryan Sheldon eight and Daniel Vanderweide one.

“We ran into a buzz saw in Osborne,” Casperson said. “He had 20 in the first half and finished with seven in the second, so we defended him better later. Then the other kid (Karlberg) came out and shot an incredible percentage too.”

Osborn hit 9-13 from the field and Karlberg 7-11 and accounted for 50 of Grace’s 70 points.

“Our biggest issue was team defense,” Casperson said. “We waited a long time to try and defend and didn’t make the adjustments we needed to until halftime when we talked about it. With this group of experienced guys we have to get to the position where we are taking more ownership and responsibility on the court. We have to adjust quicker on the fly.”

JDHS was 24-59 from the field, including 11 from beyond the arch, and hit 4-7 from the charity stripe.

Grace was 23-40 from the field, including 10 from deep, and 14-19 at the line.

Grace posted a slim 29-28 rebound advantage over JDHS.

“I appreciate our effort to get back into the game,” Casperson said. “It was certainly a learning situation about scoring quick and fouling right away. I would like us, after we learned from that today, attempt to play from in front here on out.”

In other Prep Shootout action Bartlett downed Lathrop 80-76 behind 22 points from Anthony Camacho, 16 from Tyler Boyer, 14 from Bentiu Panoam and 12 from Duol Yat. Lathrop was led by Cole Berner’s 17 points, Jaden Whiteside and Kobe Titus-Milk added 15 apiece and Curtis White Jr. 14.

The Wasilla Warriors topped Anchorage Christian 73-55 as the Warriors Alex Baham hit a game-high 31 points and Reilly Devine added 12. The Lions Levi Auble scored 29.

Bartlett and Wasilla play in the semifinals today at 7 p.m. and ACS and Lathrop play in a consolation elimination game at 3 p.m.

Grace advances to play the winner of Thursdays’ late game between Dimond and Kenai. JDHS plays the loser of Dimond vs. Kenai in an elimination game at 4:45 p.m. today.

Wednesday December 31, 2014
Capital City Classic ends with a flourish - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Moses Lake nips JDHS boys 59-58, University stops girls 43-41

The final night of action in the 2014 Princess Cruises Capital City Classic featured two of the best games in the history of the tournament.

The Moses Lake Chiefs won a nail-biter against the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears boys 59-58 to go undefeated in the tournament and give JDHS their only loss over the last four days.

Moses Lake big man Cesar Sandoval led the scoring with a game-high 24 points, Mitch Hohman and Ricardo Gonzales added 12 apiece, Derek Martinez five, and Isaiah Thomas, Alex Reed and Tyson Karstetter two each.

The Chiefs went 8-22 at the free throw line; the Crimson Bears were 10-18 at the stripe.

Adam Empson led JDHS with 12 points, Bryce Swofford eight, Treyson Ramos and John Yadao added seven apiece, Gunnar Schultz, Kaleb Tompkins and Nathan Klein six each, Molo Maka, Guy Bean and Jacob Thibodeau two each.

JDHS led 17-12 starting the second quarter and 33-30 at the half. Moses Lake held a 50-45 lead heading into the final eight minutes of play.

All-Tournament selections for the boys were Most Valuable Player Cesar Sandoval (Moses Lake), Brayden Rainey (Nampa Christian), Peyton Brothers (Nampa Christian), Kyle Klinger (Haines), Derek Martinez (Moses Lake), Mitch Hohman (Moses Lake), Kaleb Tompkins (Juneau-Douglas), Bryce Swofford (Juneau-Douglas), Adam Empson (Juneau-Douglas).

On the girls side, the University Illineks stopped the JDHS girls 43-41 despite a game-high 14 points from the Crimson Bears Kallen Hoover.

University’s Aja Trask led the Illineks with 12 points, Madeleine Nelson added 11, Lydia Mihaly eight, Maddie Brown six, Raebekkah Pratt-Clarke four and Makayla Dorsey two.

The Illineks were 0-4 at the line; the Crimson Bears were 10-18.

Georgia Robinson added 10 points for JDHS, Cassie Dzinich six, Rachelle Roldan four, Abigail Watts, Samantha Heidersdorf, and Tona Fogg two each and Sophie Hultberg one.

JDHS led 14-10 after one quarter and 25-20 at the half. University led 32-31 starting the fourth quarter.

Rochelle Roldan was the girls Most Valuable Player and joined on the all-tourney team by Aja Trask (University), Raebekkah Pratt-Clark (University), Kallen Hoover (JDHS), Cassie Dzinich (JDHS), Madeleine Nelson (University), and Kelly Sam (Jimmy Huntington).

Nampa Christian 68, Haines 26

The Nampa Christian boys ended their tournament with a 68-26 win over the Haines Glacier Bears, getting 24 points from Braden Rainey, 15 from Peyton Brothers and 13 from Caelen Dennis.

Haines was led by Keegan Sundberg and Hudson Sage with six points apiece, Kyle Klinger added five, Keanu Lynch, Jacob Stigen, josh Stearns and Dylan Swenton two each and Jordan Badger one.

Haines hit 8-12 at the line; Nampa 12-17.

Nampa’s Micah Williams added seven points, Hunter Bullock five and Blake Johanson four.

The Christian Trojans led 12-10 after one quarter, 44-18 at the half, and 57-20 starting the final eight minutes.

University 53, Jimmy Huntington 28

The University girls topped the Jimmy Huntingon Huslia Huslers in an early morning game 53-28 behind 20 points from Madeleine Nelson. Aja Trask added 11 points for the Illineks, Lydia Mihaly eight, Raebekkah Pratt-Clarke six, Makayla Dorsey four, and Beth Geistlinger and Maddie Brown two apiece.

The Huslia Huslers were led by Flora Huntington’s 11 points, Kelly Sam added six and Sara Henderson three.

University hit 5-8 at the line; Jimmy Huntington went 2-2.

University led 20-8, 39-14 and 51-23 at the quarter breaks.

Tuesday December 30, 2014
Bears boys defeat Idaho, Crimson girls top Illinois - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boys and girls basketball teams won their night games at the 2014 Princess Cruises Capital City Classic Basketball Tournament at JDHS.

The Crimson Bears boys toppled the Nampa, Idaho, Christian High School Christian Trojans 82-49 and the girls beat the Urbana, Illinois, University High School Illineks 52-31.

The JDHS boys used a full court press and eight points from senior Adam Empson to take a 24-9 first quarter lead over the Christian Trojans.

“Just hustle and hard work,” Empson said. “We put it in at practice. We were just working the offense, we know what we have to do, come out every night.”

JDHS led 34-9 in the second quarter before Nampa’s Caelen Dennis found the basket inside and the Christian Trojans went on a 12-2 run to close within 36-23 with a minute remaining in the half.

JDHS’ Guy Bean hit three of four free throws, and Nathan Klein scored inside off a nice pass from Kaleb Tompkins for a 40-25 lead at the half.

“We responded when we went to our traps,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “The intensity picked up. We might have had more turnovers than shots in that second quarter, that was something we talked about at halftime. We needed to get our defense going to create some offensive opportunities. The guys bought into that and started diving on the floor. So that hustle really got everybody’s energy back up.”

The Crimson Bears were unselfish throughout the game, which led to 26 points in the third stanza, and JDHS took a 66-37 lead starting the fourth quarter.

“It was not just tonight,” Casperson said. “We look for each other in our practices and when we get the opportunities in games. Tonight was certainly the best example of it. We moved the ball, and we hit the open man right when they were open most of the time. That is good for a high school group to recognize when and where guys are going to be open.”

Empson led the Crimson Bears with 18 points, Tompkins added 11, Gunnar Schultz and Guy Bean 10 apiece, Nathan Klein nine, John Yadao and Bryce Swofford six each, Treyson Ramos five, Erik Kelly four and Manase Maake three.

The Crimson Bears hit 23 field goals, added eight from dee, and went 12-20 at the charity stripe.

Nampa was led by Peyton Brothers’ game-high 21 points, Dennis added 10, Braden Rainey eight, Hunter Bullock four, Blake Johanson, Hunter Fillmore and Bryce Asselin two each. The Christian Trojans hit 11 field goals, two from deep, and were 21-31 at the line.

The JDHS boys play Moses Lake at 7 p.m. tonight in the tournament championship.

In earlier action, the JDHS girls broke open a tight game in the second half, exploding with 25 points in the fourth quarter, including nine of Rachelle Roldan’s game-high 15, to earn the win.

“I was pleasantly surprised that we could put some points on the board,” JDHS coach Lesslie Knight said. “I was concerned that we would struggle to score. Just breaking 50 was an accomplishment for us.”

The teams were tied at 10-10 after one quarter of action, and JDHS took a 20-16 lead at the half.

The Crimson Bears went on an 11-2 run to open the third quarter and were never threatened again in the game.

Cassie Dzinich led the charge with a bucket inside, and Roldan hit a string of free throws before University’s Aja Trask put a mark on the Illineks side of the score clock. Maddie Brown added two buckets late to pull the Illineks within 43-30 starting the final quarter.

“We plan to press teams and I think we are getting better at it,” Knight said. “With each game we are improving and getting pressure on the ball without getting into foul trouble. Rachelle is really emerging and getting confidence. I think she is capable of scoring on steals and we have talked about that.”

Sophie Hultberg added 12 points in the game, Dzinich nine, Kallen Hoover five, Samantha Heidersdorf and Tona Fogg four apiece, and Abigail Watts three.

JDHS hit 19 of 58 field goals, 2-7 from beyond the arch, while adding 12-26 from the free throw line.

University hit 14-42 field goals, went 0-2 from deep and was 3-8 at the charity stripe.

Raebekkah Pratt-Clarke led the Illineks with nine points, Beth Geistlinger, Trask and Brown added six each.

The Crimson Bears outrebounded the Illineks 45-32. Roldan led JDHS with seven boards and Madeleine Nelson grabbed a game-high nine for University.

JDHS next plays University at 5 p.m. today. University also plays Jimmy Huntington at 10 a.m. today.

Sunday December 28, 2014
Crimson topples Glacier in Bears boys battle - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     JDHS wins Capital City Classic opener

The Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears boys basketball team dominated the Haines Glacier Bears 71-21 in its opening game at Saturday’s 2014 Princess Cruises Capital City Classic Basketball Tournament in the JDHS gym.

“The guys were really excited and there was a lot of anticipation to get out on the home floor and play in front of their family and friends,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “That is what we love about this Capital City Classic, getting to play in front of everyone back over the holidays.”

Haines senior Keegan Sundberg scored the first basket of the game for the Glacier Bears’ only lead before the Crimson Bears went to work on their home floor, scoring 19 straight points to end the quarter.

JDHS sophomore Bryce Swofford led the scoring binge with a follow-up rebound shot and added five blocked shots in the stanza. Seniors Adam Empson and Gunnar Schultz, and freshman Erik Kelly scored in the barrage.

Senior Nathan Klein tipped in a shot at the buzzer for the 19-2 advantage.

The Crimson Bears pressed full court through the first half and forced seven turnovers in the first quarter and five in the second.

“I liked that our guys had a lot of energy, defensively in the full court, whether it was man or trapping, we got after it and got a lot of deflections, which means we were engaged and that is important,” Capserson said.

The Glacier Bears found some success with senior Jordan Badger dribbling through pressure.

“A lot of it is getting experience,” Haines coach Steve Fossman said. “We got a little bit of court time against a tough team. We were overwhelmed. Sometimes that helps you in a game like that to get guys to buy into what are trying to do. We need to cut, we need to screen and nail people on the screen, just little things like that which are hard to create in practice with a little team like ours.”

JDHS extended its lead to 42-13 at the half and 64-21 starting the final quarter.

Every Crimson Bears player who took the floor found the scorebook, while Haines could not find a basket in the last eight minutes of play.

JDHS played an extended full court press in the first half and the aggression put Haines in the double-bonus from the free throw line, but the visitors could not connect from the field.

“We got our big guy some looks towards the end there,” Fossman said. “It made scoring look really easy when he caught the ball two feet under the bucket. That was one of the highlights of the game for me, seeing our big guy get the ball underneath. He is struggling right now because he is at the mercy of our guard play. I think we will get some good things out of the team. I think when you are a young, new, inexperienced team, getting the ball under the bucket is learning something and we just build from there.”

Swofford led the Crimson Bears with 11 points, Empson, Schultz and Guy Bean added nine each, Klein eight, Erik Kelly seven, John Yadao five, Treyson Ramos four, Jacob Thibodeau three, Manase Maake, Kaleb Tompkins and Kolby Hoover two each.

JDHS hit 27 field goals, including five from beyond the arc, and was 2-3 from the charity stripe.

“We did move the ball really well,” Casperson said. “I didn’t see any ‘me’ shots, a lot of ‘we’ shots, we moved the ball to get guys open looks and guys knocked down their open shots. That is always positive. I felt like we executed the things offensively that we talked about doing in a game for the first time this season.”

Casperson said the Crimson Bears struggled with execution in recent play up north but settled into the rhythm of the game on Saturday.

Haines had just four field goals and went 13-22 at the free-throw line.

Badger led the Glacier Bears with 10 points, Kyle Klinger had four, Keanu Lynch and Sundberg two apiece, Matthew Green, Josh Stearns and Dylan Swinton one each.

JDHS next plays at 7 p.m. Monday against Nampa Christian, and Haines plays at 3 p.m. Monday against Moses Lake.

Friday December 26, 2014
Capital City Classic tips off Saturday - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The 2014 Capital City Classic Basketball Tournament will begin tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the Juneau-Douglas gymnasium as JDHS alumna Talisa Rhea brings her University High School (Urbana, IL) Illineks into her old hardwood haunts to take on the 3-0 Thunder Mountain Falcons who are on a roll to open the young season.

Following will be a boys matchup of out-of-state proportions as Idaho’s Nampa Chritian takes on Washington’s Moses Lake. The evening continues with the 0-2 JDHS girls playing the Jimmy Huntington School from Huslia (AK) and the 1-2 JDHS boys taking on familiar northern foe Haines.

The complete game schedule is as follows -

SATURDAY

• 1 p.m. University Laboratory High School (Urbana, IL) girls vs. Thunder Mountain.

• 3 p.m. Nampa Christian High School (Nampa,ID) boys vs. Moses Lake High School (Moses Lake, WA).

• 5 p.m. JDHS girls vs. Jimmy Huntington School (Huslia, AK).

• 7 p.m. JDHS boys vs. Haines.

SUNDAY

• Noon, teams tour Juneau; 2 p.m. shooting contest at JDHS gym; 4 p.m. banquest in JDHS commons.

MONDAY

• 1 p.m. JDHS girls vs. Jimmy Huntington.

• 3 p.m. Moses Lake boys vs. Haines.

• 5 p.m. JDHS girls vs. University.

• 7 p.m. JDHS boys vs. Nampa Christian.

TUESDAY

• 10 a.m. University girls vs. Jimmy Huntington.

• 3 p.m. Haines boys vs. Nampa Christian.

• 5 p.m. JDHS girls vs. University.

• 7 p.m. JDHS boys vs. Moses Lake.

• 8:30 p.m. awards; 9 p.m. dance.

GIRLS TEAMS

University High School Illineks

20 Beth Geistlinger Jr. 5’7” G

22 Lydia Mihaly Jr 5’6” G

23 Aja Trask So 5’4” G

24 Raebekkah Pratt-Clarke Sr 5’2” G

30 Kate Ferreira Jr 5’5” G

31 Madeleine Nelson Jr 5’9” G

34 Makayla Dorsey Jr 5’10” F

40 Maddie Brown Jr 5’9” F

Coach: Talisa Rhea

Assistant Coach: Jeff Bruer

Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears

10 Cassie Dzinich Fr 5’10

11 Kallen Hoover Jr 5’7

12 Abigail Watts So 5’7

13 Sophie Hultberg So 5’7

14 Izzy Watts Sr 5’2

15 Samantha Heidersdorf Sr 5’6

20 Tona Fogg Jr 5’6”

21 Rachelle Roldan Sr 5’1

22 Georgia Robinson Fr 5’7

32 Cristina Aerhart Jr 5’8

33 Julia Noreen Jr 5’9

Head Coach: Lesslie Knight

Assistant Coach: Maddie Swofford

Thunder Mountain Falcons

21 Cheyenne Ekis Sr

32 Ashley Young Sr

11 Sarah Morris Sr

23 Siosi Tupou Sr

30 Harriet Martin Jr

3 Ava Tompkins Jr

22 Siniva Maka Jr

12 Alondra Echiverri So

20 Allyson Strong So

15 Haleigh DiCarlo So

4 Cyrene Uddipa Fr

Head Coach: Tanya Nizich

Assistant Coaches: Danielle Larson, Joy Ribao

Jimmy Huntington School (Huslia, AK)

Information not available.

BOYS TEAMS

Haines Glacier Bears

10 Jordan Badger Sr 5’6”

14 Keanu Lynch Sr 5’7”

15 Matthew Green Jr 5’9”

21 Jacob Stigen So 5’9”

22 Josh Stearns Sr 5’8”

30 Keegan Sundberg Sr 5’9”

31 Kyle Klinger Sr 6’8”

32 Hudson Sage Fr 6’0”

33 Dalton Klinger Fr 6’0”

40 Dylan Swinton Fr 6’0”

41 Dylan Palmieri Jr 5’9”

Head Coach: Steve Fossman

Assistant Coach: Ann Fossman Moses Lake Chiefs roster:

1 Derek Martinez G SR 5’10”

2 Cesar Sandoval C/F JR 6’4’

5 Nick Tran G SR 5’7”

12 Isaiah Thomas G JR 5’7”

15 Alex Reed G SR 6’1”

22 Mitch Hohman F SR 5’11”

23 Ricardo Gonzalez G JR 6’

24 Grant Bruneel G/F SR 6’2”

30 Jaime Menendez G SR 6’

31 Tyson Karstetter F SR 6’4”

33 Andrey Ulyanchuk F SR 6’1”

40 Derek Crum C/F SR 6’4”

Head Coach: John Hohman

Assistant Coach: Craig Groth

Nampa Christian Trojans roster:

4 Braden Rainey Jr 6’1 F

5 Marcus Waterman Jr 6’0 G

10 Micah Williams Sr 5’10 G

11 Peyton Brothers Jr 5’11 G

12 Henry Fillmore Jr 6’3 F

13 Hunter Bullock Jr 5’10 G

14 Blake Johanson Jr 6’0 F

15 Joshua de Jong So 5’11 G

20 Andrew Anderson Jr 6’2 CF

23 Bryce Asselin Jr 6’3 F

33 Alex Byron Sr 6’3 CF

40 Josh Liu Sr 6’6 C

44 Caelen Dennis Fr 6’5 G

Head Coach: Randy Brothers

Assistant Coach: Greg Bullock

Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears:

1 Manase Maake Sr 5’8” G

2 Gunnar Schultz Sr 6’1” G

3 Treyson Ramos Jr 5’9” G

10 Molo Maka Jr 6’2” F

11 Kolby Hoover Fr 6’0” G

12 John Yadao Sr 5’5” G

13 Kaleb Tompkins Jr 6’3” G

15 Adam Empson Sr 6’2” G

21 Bryce Swofford So 6’6” F

23 Guy Bean Jr 6’1” G

24 Erik Kelly Fr 6’2” F

33 Jacob Thibodeau Sr 5’11” G

43 Bruce Jones Sr 6’7” F

44 Nathan Klein Sr 6’3” F

Head Coach: Robert Casperson Assistant Coaches: Kevin Casperson, Steve Houlihan, Greg Huebschen

Monday December 22, 2014
C-Bears Earn Awards in Anchorage
     The T-Bird Classic All Tournament Team included MVP Hepa (Barrow), Dunbar (Barrow), Tuai (Barrow), Adams (Barrow), Bonner (East), White (East), Canete-Hall (East), Jemuel Mangalus (Kodiak), Max Mutch (Kodiak), Bryce Swofford (Juneau-Douglas) and Kaleb Tompkins (Juneau-Douglas).

Sunday December 21, 2014
Crimson Bears boys fall to Whalers, beat Bears - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team finished its weekend at the East Anchorage T-Bird Classic with a 78-70 loss to the Barrow Whalers on Friday and a 58-32 win over Kodiak on Saturday.

“It was a high-intensity game,” Juneau coach Robert Casperson said of the Barrow loss. “From both teams.”

The Crimson Bears fared well against Barrow’s nationally ranked freshman Kamak Hepa, despite 32 points from the 6-foot-8 Whalers center.

“He is a talented player, no doubt about it,” Casperson said. “He handles the ball like a guard, has quick feet and soft hands inside. He keys most of their offense from the perimeter, which was not what I expected.”

JDHS tried to get the ball out of Hepa’s hands, which led to some easier shots for Barrow’s Sione Tuai, who was 9-10 from the field.

“Obviously we weren’t very effective because Hepa still had 32,” Casperson said. “We were getting broken down at the guard defensively and they would penetrate. We are not good enough defensively yet and we have some work to help the helper and make our defensive rotations a little tighter so we don’t give up easy buckets.”

Casperson said that Barrow is a very good team because its players understand their roles and completely play within them.

“In all three of these games in the tournament, we have shown we can put the ball in the basket,” Casperson said. “We were right in there; we never quit against Barrow. They are really good, every bit as good as most 4A programs in the state. We are still trying to figure out our roles. That is why we play in these preseason tournaments.”

John Yadao led Juneau with 17 points off the bench, something the the team will need to stay competitive in games throughout the season.

Kaleb Tompkins and Adam Empson had 12 apiece, Bryce Swofford seven, Nathan Klein six, Jacob Thibodeau five, Manase Maake and Molo Maka four apiece, Gunnar Schultz two and Treyson Ramos one. Ramos led JDHS with seven rebounds and Klein added five, Maka and Maake four apiece.

Barrow was led by Hepa with 32 points and nine rebounds, Tuai scored 20, Antonio Dunbar nine, Raqwaun Lisbourne six, Travis Adams and Kevin Goodwin four apiece, and Makana Ahgeak three.

The Crimson Bears trailed 16-13 after one quarter and 44-40 at the half.

JDHS outscored Barrow 14-10 in the third quarter to tie the game heading into the final stanza, but the Whalers pulled away. The largest lead was 72-61 in favor of the Whalers in the fourth quarter.

“We are gaining experience and depth right now,” Casperson said. “We don’t like losing but we know we’re going to be better for it. For example, we cut our turnovers down from 32 to 18. Still too many; but a step in the right direction.”

Barrow had 13 turnovers and shot 19-29 from the charity stripe and 27-43 from the field, including 5-7 from beyond the arc.

JDHS hit 13-19 from the line and 11-29 from the field, including 2-10 from past the arc.

Saturday’s 58-32 win over Kodiak saw the Crimson Bears overcome a 23-21 halftime deficit with 31 points in the second half while holding the Bears to just 15 second half points.

“We started doing a lot more full-court trapping in the second half,” Casperson said.

The game was knotted at 9-9 after the first quarter.

Swofford led JDHS with 13 points, Schultz and Empson added eight each, Yadao seven, Ramos six, Tompkins and Erik Kelly four apiece and Thibodeau two. Empson also had a game-high seven rebounds.

Billy Alcaide led Kodiak with 13 points, Max Mutch added 10, Jemuel Mangalus five, Albert Monge and Ryan Bezona four apiece and Noah Koller two.

The Crimson Bears were 4-6 at the free-throw line and 21-45 from the field, including 6-12 from beyond the arc. The Kodiak Bears were 4-9 from the line and 15-42 from the field, including 4-17 from deep.

“Those kids from Kodiak play really hard and they did a really good job,” Casperson said. “One thing that really helped us out was our length at the guard position when we went to our pressure. We were able to disrupt what they wanted to do.”

Yadao, Maka and Kelly scored their first-ever varsity points in the tournament.

“It was a good tournament overall,” Casperson said. “Everyone played. We have three guys up here who scored their first varsity points.”

Tournament stats for JDHS included Swofford (31 points, 15 rebounds, 7 fouls, 2 assists, 8 turnovers, 7 blocked shots, 2 steals), Empson (31 PT, 14 RB, 12 F, 4 A, 10 TO, 2 ST), Tompkins (30 PT, 12 RB, 7 F, 5 A, 13 TO, 1 BS, 2 ST), Yadao (30 PT, 10 RB, 7 F, 4 A,9 TO, 3 ST), Schultz (14 PT, 3 RB, 5 F, 1 A, 3 TO, 1 BS), Ramos (14 PT, 9 RB, 8 F, 4 A, 5 TO, 5 ST), Klein (9 PT, 16 RB, 6 F, 5 A, 5 TO, 2 ST), Maka (7 PT, 3 RB, 2 F, 4 TO, 1 BS), Thibodeau (7 PT, 5 RB, 2 F, 4 A, 1 TO), Maake (6 PT, 10 RB, 4 F, 7 A, 6 TO, 5 ST), Kelly (4 PT, 4 RB, 3 F, 3 A, 1 TO, 1 BS).

Friday December 19, 2014
Crimson Bears boys fall 76-61 to Thunderbirds - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team ran with the high octane East Anchorage Thunderbirds on Thursday, falling 76-61 in a T-Bird Classic Tournament game that featured eight lead changes and seven ties.

“It is hard to beat a quality opponent when you have 32 empty possessions,” Juneau-Douglas coach Robert Casperson said.

JDHS had 32 turnovers to 22 for East.

“It looked like a first game for a lot of our guys,” Casperson said. “Despite the experience we are bringing in this season. It is still high school basketball, our guys have to take a little bit of time to settle in and get comfortable and identify and establish their roles this year. We will be a work in progress, this is new and I think we are going to be okay.”

The Crimson Bears lead 21-17 after the first quarter and 33-32 at the half.

The Thunderbirds outscored JDHS 19-13 in the third quarter and 25-15 in the final stanza.

A balanced scoring attack by the Crimson Bears featured Kaleb Tompkins leading with 14 points, Adam Empson and Bryce Swofford netting 11 apiece, Treyson Ramos seven, Gunnar Schultz four, Molo Maka and Nathan Klein three apiece and Manase Maake two. Swofford and Klein had nine rebounds apiece.

East was led by 19 points from Louis Bonner, Moses Miller added 17, Brayton Keith 15 and Marquis White 10. White also had 12 rebounds.

JDHS was 23-36 at the free throw line; East was 24-34.

The Crimson Bears were 18-54 from the field, including 2-16 from beyond the arch. The Thunderbirds connected on 24-64 from the field, including 4-21 beyond the arch.

JDHS senior center Bruce Jones will miss four weeks after suffering a knee injury last week.

“That made a difference,” Casperson said. “We did all right on the boards, even for our size advantage we could have done better. Bruce absolutely takes up a lot of space in there and gets his hands on a lot of rebounds and he is our post presence. It is going to create opportunities for other guys to step up and have more experience. It should make us deeper... and Bruce will stay fresh, he will get a month off.”

In other T-Bird Classic action, the Barrow Whalers got 28 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two blocked shots and two steals from 6-foot-8 freshman center Kamaka Hepa in a 64-26 win over the Kodiak Bears.

Antonio Dunbar added 11 points for the Whalers. Kodiak was led by Max Mutch’s eight points. The Bears scored only 3 points in the second period, 5 in the third and 8 in the fourth.

Hepa garnished national attention last summer after being named the best eight-grader at an elite basketball camp in Nashville, Tennessee in June. Hepa was one of 70 eighth and ninth graders at the Underclassmen Exclusive, an invitation-only showcase. ESPN recruiting analyst John Stovall stated Hepa was “a long and skilled post player that has advanced skill for his age and grade ... And has a chance to be the best prospect out of Alaska in quite some time.”

Hepa’s older sister was 6-foot-4 Lynette Hepa, a two-time all-state player on the Barrow girls team.

Wednesday December 17, 2014
Thank you from the Harlem Ambassadors
     On Sunday, Dec. 14, HoopTime hosted the Harlem Ambassadors, a professional comedy basketball team, for a night of high-flying slam dunks, hilarious comedy and feel-good family entertainment.

The Harlem Ambassadors would like to extend a special thank you to event organizers Shelly Saviers and Lori Seymour, who planned and promoted the event. The opposing team were energetic and enthusiastic opponents and we thank all of the players [including Juneau-Douglas High School head basketball coach Robert Casperson] for their good sportsmanship. This event would not have been possible without the support and generosity of local community sponsors, the HoopTime members and the event volunteers.

The Harlem Ambassadors thank the community of Juneau for its warm hospitality and look forward to returning to Juneau in the future!

Best regards,

Dale Moss

Harlem Ambassadors President

Sunday November 09, 2014
Join Up Today!
     Get prepared for the 2014-2015 season by clicking on the link provided to join the Fast Break Club. We have three options for you to chose from to show your support. You can sign up for the Fast Break Club by using your credit card, safely and securely, through our PayPal account. Go Bears!

Saturday November 08, 2014
Alaska High School Basketball Begins December 1st
     The team has been preparing for the beginning of the 2014-2015 season with early morning weights and evening open gym. The level of dedication exhibited by the boys should prove for some exciting basketball viewing for Crimson Bear fans!

Monday July 28, 2014
Swofford transfers from Oak Hills Christian College - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Former Crimson Bears center signs with Baptist Bible

Former Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears basketball center Taylor Swofford, a 2012 JDHS graduate, has transferred from Minnesota’s Oak Hills Christian College to Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Mo.

“After high school I never thought I would be playing college basketball,” Swofford said. “I didn’t get that much playing time in high school.”

Swofford only began playing organized basketball when a sophomore in high school. His minutes were minimal during his JDHS career.

Swofford averaged eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks per game during his sophomore season for the Oak Hills Wolf Pack. Oak Hills is a member institution of the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference (MCAC), the Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NIAC) and the Association of Christian College Athletics (ACCA).

“I went from being a guy coming off the bench in high school to being a starter right off the bat at Oak Hills,” Swofford said. “It was really weird, I wasn’t used to it. It made me better; I learned how to play the game more and, as a starter, learned to keep going. I was used to being the guy on the bench who only played a minute and then was subbed right out. I definitely took a big step of improvement since high school. The hardest part was it got overwhelming with the responsibility, even off the court, because the team needed me. In high school they didn’t need me; this school was counting on me to be there every day.”

Swofford will be looked to to steady the middle for the Baptist Patriots who have one of the conference’s best-scoring guards.

“My role there will be the person that goes into the game and plays defense and rebounding,” Swofford said. “Grabbing offensive rebounds and setting screens for the guards.”

Baptist Bible is a member of the ACCA and regularly advances to the National Christian Colleges Athletics Association National Tournament.

The goal of Oak Hills and Baptist Bible is to teach and equip their students with the proper knowledge and skills that will enable them to become more effective servants and leaders for the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Swofford is working toward a Masters in education.

“I am hoping to be teaching at the elementary school level,” Swofford said. “As a Christian I wanted a good environment and I felt that going to a Christian school would be good for me, learning about the Bible and playing basketball with my Christian friends. It is definitely much different compared to high school. It is a blessing to be in college ball playing. I never thought it would happen.”

Sunday June 22, 2014
Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp Concludes with All-Star Saturday
     The Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp was a tremendous success delivering professional instruction to the youth of the region.

Juneau-Douglas High School head coach and camp director, Robert Casperson, would like to congratulate the campers on two phenomenal weeks of basketball. Camp 1 had 125 participants in 2nd – 8th grades. Camp 2 had 65 participants in 8th – 12th grades. He was impressed with the excitement, intensity, and improvement in all the players that attended the Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp.

The Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp also emphasizes the importance of making healthy life choices. Time was included during camp for special presenters to address multiple topics. Former professional basketball player, Talisa Rhea, discussed goal setting with the campers. NCAA Division I football player, Faifo Levale, spoke about the work ethic and academic requirements necessary to be eligible for college athletics. Richard Radford from the AWARE Shelter, Alaska Men Chose Respect, and Coaching Boys into Men presented on positive relationships.

Championship Friday and All-Star Saturday created an electric atmosphere. In the College championship the UConn Huskies emerged victorious. In the NBA championship, the Indiana Pacers secured the title. Saturday was capped off with an all-star game for each division and the presentation of trophies for special awards that were voted on by the camp coaching staff.

The Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp operates in proud partnership with the following sponsors and businesses: The Fast Break Club, Commercial Signs & Printing, Oliver’s Trophies and Engraving, McDonald’s, KINY Radio, Kimmel Athletic Supply, Community Schools and RALLY.

The Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp will return in June of 2015.

College Division Special Awards:

Free Throw Champion: Caitlin Pusich

2-Min. Tournament Champs: Kentucky

League Champs: UConn

Best Passer: Bryson Echiverri

Best Defense: John Hamrick

Station Master: Cristina Arehart

Most Hustle: Hansel Hinckle

Most Improved: Cassie Dzinich

Best Rebounder: Cristina Arehart

Most Valuable Player: John Hamrick

All-Stars: Caitlin Pusich, John Hamrick, Bryson Echiverri, Cassie Dzinich, Tatum Bayne, Rachelle Roldan, Kendyl Carson, Monika Rivera, Isabelle Watts, Kallen Hoover, Cristina Arehart, Hansel Hinckle

NBA Division Special Awards:

Free Throw Champion: Kaleb Tompkins

2-Min. Tournament Champs: Pacers

League Champs: Pacers

Best Passer: Manase Maake

Best Defense: Gunnar Schultz

Station Master: Gunnar Schultz

Most Hustle: Luke Clark

Most Improved: Luke Clark

Best Rebounder: Jesse Lantiegne

Most Valuable Player: Jesse Lantiegne

All-Stars: Kaleb Tompkins, Manase Maake, Jesse Lantiegne, Bryce Swofford, John Yadao, Stewart Conn, Lorne DeAsis, Luke Clark, Guy Bean, Gunnar Schultz

Thursday June 05, 2014
Life without limits - Juneau Empire by Charles L. Westmoreland
     Former NBA coach leads camp for differently-abled

Don’t tell Greg Brittenham what someone can or can’t do. The former NBA assistant coach sees limitations as walls to be torn down, one brick at a time if needed.

Brittenham spent 20 years overseeing the strength and conditioning program for the New York Knicks, revered as one of the most physically dominant NBA teams of the 1990s under head coach Pat Riley. Brittenham later left the Knicks and found a home at Wake Forest heading its men’s and women’s basketball programs.

These days, he’s not surrounded by NBA All-Stars with names like Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, John Starks and Allan Houston. He’s hosting basketball camps in Hoonah, Angoon, Kake, Yakutat and Juneau — places whose school gyms could all fit inside Madison Square Garden with room to spare. Brittenham isn’t concerned with championships and trophies at the moment. His focus is on making a positive impact in people’s lives. Basketball is merely the tool he uses to do it.

The camp in Juneau was different from the others he’s held in Southeast and the longtime camp he runs in Haines, where Brittenham owns a home and has spent his summers since 1992. From Sunday through Tuesday, Brittenham hosted a basketball camp for youths and adults with physical and mental disabilities. The camp is the first of its kind in Juneau.

“Everybody has a unique personality, everybody has a unique skill set,” he said. “You work with them within their limitations, but then you challenge those limitations. That’s the only way you get better. That’s the only way adaptation occurs.”

During the three-day camp, Brittenham and his cadre of assistants: high school coaches, former prep athletes and others, saw campers evolve in the short amount of time they worked together. Campers were put through exercises testing balance, coordination and agility, not to mention the finer points of basketball such as dribbling, passing and shooting.

Better by the day

Brittenham ran the camp much like you’d expect. Just because the campers face additional challenges doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be challenged.

“A lot (of the campers) had difficulties standing on one leg the first day,” he said Tuesday. “Today, they’re all doing it. Had they not been challenged, they may go through life without knowing what their strengths are. Now they know they can succeed at something.

“You can’t let other people ... dictate your limitations.”

The last part is a message Brittenham reiterated time and again. He knows the campers have additional challenges, whether that’s being coddled, criticized or excluded by others.

“We’re here to push them,” he said. “We’re working on more than basketball skills.”

Half of the campers are preparing for the 2014 Special Olympics Alaska Summer Games, held June 6-8 in Anchorage’s Alaska Dome. The other half had very little basketball experience, if any.

Experience doesn’t matter, nor do hurtful words from naysayers, Brittenham told camper Tammi Birch. “If you want to play, you have to practice and put in the work,” he said.

Birch said she’d never played team basketball before the camp, but she was looking forward to joining a team in the future. She demonstrated a between-the-legs dribble her father had taught her. It was received with an ear-to-ear smile, encouraging words and a high-five. A few minutes later, Brittenham had Birch lead the group in a similar exercise.

“We’re working on teamwork and leadership skills as well,” he said. “Everybody will demonstrate at some point, and they’ll have to get in front of the group. It’s a safe, encouraging environment.”

The difference between the Juneau campers and others he’s worked with from North Carolina to Alaska boils down to attitude. Brittenham said many athletes will tell him they can’t do something. That wasn’t the case with the Juneau group.

“They encourage one another more than any group I’ve ever seen,” he said. “And no one says, ‘I can’t.’”

Brittenham’s infectious enthusiasm and can-do attitude rubbed off on the campers.

“Coach Britt has been incredible,” said camper Chris Brenner. “I’ve learned so much from him. He pointed out what I can do to better, like keeping my feet farther apart when I shoot. He really opened my eyes to what’s possible.”

Brenner wasn’t speaking specifically about possibilities on the court. He has a higher goal in mind.

“I want to be the first autistic governor of Alaska,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in politics.”

Ignoring the negative

On the biggest stages, critics scream the loudest. That’s what Brittenham learned after joining the Knicks in 1989.

“We had 18 million people from Washington, D.C., to Boston talking about how bad the Knicks are,” he recalled. “They can’t win, they just don’t have the talent, they’re not athletic enough, they don’t have the skills. Everyday, you read about how you can’t succeed. Every single day, there’s some article about how bad we are, what’s wrong with us. You can either accept it and go to work and get a paycheck, or you just view it as their insecurities ... and go to work every day and see what we can do to move the team forward.”

A mentality of proving doubters wrong is what he wanted campers to hear, regardless of their ability or disability.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s this camp; people are always told they’re too short, not tall enough, not smart enough, not athletic enough, you don’t have the skills — you either accept others’ opinion of you, or you set it aside and have the determination to prove them wrong.

“If you want to play high school basketball, do the work necessary to play high school basketball. That’s your own destiny. Don’t let other people decide for you.”

To demonstrate his point, Brittenham showed campers two shoes. One belonged to Nate Robinson, a 5-foot-7 guard who spent his first four seasons with the Knicks. The other, a size-22, belonged to Dikembe Mutombo. Both nearly had their dreams derailed by doubt. One doubted himself, the other faced it from everyone around.

“(Nate Robinson) was told his whole life there was no way he could play pro ball,” Brittenham said. “Even family members told him basketball wasn’t his game. But he had this desire to make it to the NBA.”

Robinson went on to win three slam dunk titles and played a pivotal role with the 2012 Chicago Bulls after star guard Derrick Rose was lost to a season-ending injury. He signed a long-term deal with the Denver Nuggets last season.

The 7-foot-2 owner of other shoe became known as Mount Mutombo for his shot-blocking ability (he finished an 18-year career with the second-most blocks in NBA history), but “didn’t have the confidence in himself that he could play.

“He wanted to stay in the Congo in his village,” Brittenham said. “His family and the encouragement of others got him to go to the States.”

Mutombo did go back to the Congo, but it was to build hospitals in poverty-stricken regions and to purchase hundreds of thousands of mosquito nets for children there. About 1,600 children die daily in Africa, Brittenham said, stressing the impact the $5 nets have had and how the region would be far different had Mutombo not been encouraged by others. The two examples, Brittenham said, show “both ends of the spectrum” in regards to having confidence in yourself and the confidence of others.

Ready for a repeat

Brittenham is ready to make the Juneau camp an annual event and plan to return next year. This year’s camp was made possible, he said, by the commitment of several individuals in Southeast.

Andrew Friske of Haines, who is well-known throughout Southeast for his involvement with the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, put Brittenham in touch with Juneau-Douglas track coach Janette Gagnon, a special education teacher at the high school.

Brittenham first came to Alaska with the program Challenge Life, a basketball camp on the North Slope that addressed issues like suicide and abuse, as well as leadership and academics. Of course, there was playing basketball, too. The camp, and his time in Alaska, had a long-lasting impact. Brittenham’s son, Max, who attended the recent Southeast camps as an assistant coach, had worked at camps in Colorado similar to the one held in Juneau this week.

“We felt like we could do the same thing here in Southeast,” Brittenham said.

Brittenham reached out to Gagnon, who in turn reached out to others. The result was a team of coaches, teachers and former high school athletes that equaled the number of campers.

Gagnon said she was a little nervous because basketball isn’t her sport. JDHS boys basketball head coach Robert Caperson and Gastineau Elementary teacher Ben Kriegmont were happy to lend a hand.

“Watching all the volunteers come together and enjoying this experience — they come from so many different areas — has been amazing. Most of these athletes I’ve coached or taught, and it’s fun to see them now that they’re adults.”

Many campers were nervous the first day, she said, but by Monday they were “running into the gym to get started.”

“Some hide in corners in a big gym class,” she said, “but during the camp they’re leading drills.”

Casperson said the drills at the camp look easier than they are, giving him some ideas to implement when his Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp starts next week.

“Some of his warm-up stuff looks very simple, but when the coaching staff is out doing it, it really challenges everybody to stay on balance and control their body. I’ve been impressed with the simple things (Brittenham has) provided these campers with, and how it even challenges the coaching staff.”

The experience has been “heart-warming,” said Casperson, a Floyd Dryden Middle School teacher, adding that he’d never worked with challenged individuals outside of the classroom before.

“These campers are working as hard as they can, to the best of their ability,” he said. “That’s all any coach could ask for. This group is incredible to work with.”

Gagnon said some of the exercises could be incorporated into her gym classes at JDHS.

“Selfishly, I think the coaches involved will get more out of it than the athletes,” Brittenham admitted. “Everyone here has a desire to want to help these campers.”

Brittenham and his wife, Luann, sponsored this year’s free camp. They’re hoping to attract additional sponsors in the future. But if he doesn’t, the camp will go on anyway.

“We should all try and make a difference in someone’s life, whether its a guy on the street corner or a group like this,” he said. “If you can make someone smile, ease someone’s burden, what a wonderful life that would be if everyone had that mindset.”

• Charles L. Westmoreland is managing editor for the Juneau Empire. He can be reached at 523-2265 or at charles.westmoreland@juneauempire.com.

Wednesday April 23, 2014
Coaches come to Juneau to fight domestic violence - Juneau Empire by Emily Russo Miller
     Program teaches coaches to fight domestic violence

From northernmost city in the state to the southern tip of the panhandle, athletic coaches from across Alaska converged Tuesday in Juneau — and not for a tournament or competition.

The coaches gathered at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center for an all-day training conference on “Coaching Boys Into Men.” It’s national program aimed at getting coaches to talk to their teams about domestic violence and sexual assault.

With some 50 coaches in attendance, it was the largest training session the program has ever seen in Alaska.

“By far, the most coaches we’ve ever had in one room,” said Mark Calvert, the liaison between the Coaching Boys Into Men program in Juneau and Juneau’s AWARE shelter. “So it’s a really huge deal.”

The program, which promotes teaching respect for women and healthy relationships to young male athletes, was launched in 2001 by California-based Futures Without Violence and caught on in the capital city about four years ago.

John Blasco, the Thunder Mountain High School boys basketball coach, was the first in the state to implement the program after he was approached by an AWARE advocate.

Blasco now spends time every week going through the program’s curriculum and talking to his athletes about what constitutes unhealthy and abusive relationships, sexual harassment and sexual assault — topics that don’t typically come up in the locker room.

“It was awkward at first,” he said with a laugh during a question-and-answer panel. “You just gotta be brave those first couple of times,” he urged other coaches in the room.

He’s definitely noticed a change in his players, he said, as they’ve become more conscientious about the words they use and how they act.

“It’s definitely a start in making a change to help young men understand what we expect from them,” he said.

That notion was echoed by 17-year-old TMHS senior Ben Jahn, who plays football, basketball, soccer and baseball. Jahn says his teammates now “police” each other and gently point out when someone has crossed a line.

He said his team grappled with the “So what?” aspect of the program — none of them did anything wrong, so why were they being taught this?

That changed when he received an email from a victim of domestic violence who wrote him to say she really appreciated that the basketball team was showing solidarity with those like her.

“It showed that we were actually doing something to help other people, not just ourselves,” he said. “I thought that was really cool.”

After Coaching Boys Into Men began at TMHS, it spread to other teams in the school district, including the Juneau-Douglas basketball team and the TMHS soccer team. Now, at least eight of 10 boys teams in the school district incorporate some aspect of the program into their practices, said Sandi Wagner, athletic director of Juneau’s high schools.

It has also caught on in other parts of the state, as evidenced by Tuesday’s conference. Coaches came from as far away as Barrow, Nome, Unalaska, Dillingham, the Mat-Su Borough, Cordova, Anchorage and Fairbanks. They also came from communities closer to home: Skagway, Ketchikan, Craig, Metlakatla and Hydaburg.

“We traveled all day yesterday, practically (to get here),” said Edward Tocktoo, an elder from Brevig Mission, a village of about 400 people located 70 miles north of Nome. He coaches high school wrestling, basketball and Native Youth Olympics and traveled to the conference with James Olanna, the village’s girls basketball coach.

“It’s something we can teach the boys that they can use when they’re out on their own, like when they go to college,” Olanna said of the program.

“We’re going to help out our boys and girls in our community,” Tocktoo added. “I know I’m going to head back home with positive results.”

It’s not hard to see why coaches are eager to step in to help end domestic violence and sexual assault. Alaska has one of the highest rates of sex assault and rape in the country. In fact, the first drill Calvert had the group do visualized the issue squarely. He asked those who agreed with the statement “Unhealthy/abusive relationships aren’t a problem for my athletes” to step to the front of the room and those who disagreed to step back. Chairs screeched across the floor as the whole crowd stood up and walked to the back of the room.

Gov. Sean Parnell, who spoke at the event, described the problem an epidemic, but he was optimistic that coaches could influence youths in their communities.

“You are right there in that place as a coach of being able to teach your people that respect for each other,” he said. “It’s in how you coach, and it’s in the lessons you impart to your kids.”

He added something that the coaches already knew: “You’re much more than a basketball coach, or track coach or cross country coach. You’re a life coach.”

Barrow High School football coach Brian Houston heard about Coaching Boys Into Men through an ad he saw at his work, the Office of Children’s Services.

“Just looking at what I do for work and seeing that advertisement, I’m like man, this goes hand-in-hand. I have a good insight on what happens with our families, and I said, ‘Why not learn some tools that can assist me also with coaching?’”

Calvert says the program has caught on so quickly because the curriculum is easy to use — he pointed to worksheets that outline what kind of discussions coaches should be having with their athletes.

“If you’re coaching baseball right now, you can put it into practice tomorrow,” Calvert told the group inside the Whittier Street building. “It’s that palpable, it’s that easy to do.”

Colby Wolfer, Houston High School’s boys basketball coach and a health education teacher, said the curriculum is what attracted him to the program.

“You do a lot of these things naturally as a coach and as a teacher and a mentor, but it’s nice to have kind of a framework to work inside, kind of covering the bases there,” he said.

Wednesday April 23, 2014
Pure Sole: Slaying a dragon (called domestic violence) - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Dragons have been around a long time.

You respect a dragon.

When one is fighting a dragon, they should never just try to cut off the head.

Many a knight has made that mistake.

When a dragon spews fire and smoke, it isn’t always a sure sign of their dominance.

Sometimes they prey in the darkness.

They hide in caverns.

They sleep under stairs.

They live in the next room.

Somewhere along the line, we decided to live with these dragons.

Their horrible nature became accepted.

Until now.

Times are changing.

Villagers are tired of the toll on their wives, sons and daughters.

Remember when we were young serfs?

The kings of our sports and games and schoolrooms were our fathers, big brothers and mentors.

They took the place of those absent from us.

When our families sent us off to learn the art of knighthood, they trusted we would be taught in the skills of being a godly warrior.

Wrapping spirit fingers around the handle of a 59-inch broadsword and swinging at an offending backside used to be the protocol for staying the course.

Times changed.

The young began outgrowing their mentors.

The old world of our teachers was overrun by access to a new way of life that moved faster and exposed more of life to our young.

Now, the leaders of our youths have begun to choose a way of honoring those around them, to unite in a cause that can slowly bring a change in the horror and suffrage of the dragon’s spell.

Now we coach our young boys to be men.

This will not be an easy fight for them.

It requires relearning the art of dragon-fighting that they were raised in.

It means they must bring the battle to the masses and hope others listen.

They must bring to light the 20 or so different languages on our lands and the best of each culture’s traditions and values in a united cause.

They must be wary of the fire and smoke.

Nope.

When slaying a dragon, it is always good to flail at the tail, nip at the claws, jab at the scales and slowly work towards the head.

Dragons have been around a long time.

You respect a dragon.

That is how you defeat it.

Friday March 07, 2014
Crimson Bears boys fall to Kayhi Kings 59-54 in elimination game - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team led 7-2 early in Fridays 4A Region V tournament elimination game against Ketchikan but the Kings went on a tear with six 3-pointers in the first half including three by sophomore Matt Standley to take a 28-12 lead at the break.

JDHS only found one basket in the second stanza, a Bryce Swofford shot off of a power rebound.

“The Ketchikan kids came out and executed real well against our zone,” Juneau-Douglas coach Robert Casperson said. “The game was decided in the first half. They may have made more three pointers in that game than they have all season.”

Kayhi knocked down six 3-pointers in the first half and scored 14 points in both the first and second quarters.

“At halftime the guys talked about how they wanted their season to go,” Casperson said. “They could either roll over and die or they could get out there and compete and be satisfied with our effort, win, lose or draw.”

The Crimson Bears competed.

“They gave us the opportunity to compete,” Casperson said. “We got the score to within three.’

JDHS outscored the Kings 42-31 in the second half.

“That is not quite good enough when you are down 16 at the half,” Casperson said. “Close but not quite.”

Senior Kevin Guimmayen tallied three 3-pointers while Gunnar Schultz and Kaleb Tompkins notched one each.

With 7:13 remaining in the third quarter, and trailing 32-12, the Crimson Bears went on a 13-3 run to cut the deficit to 38-25.

Nathan Klein started the fourth quarter with a shot from past the top of the key and outside the arch to trigger a 7-0 JDHS run that pulled the Crimson Bears to within 37-34.

Kayhi’s Colton Paulson and Ned Day answered but six straight free throws by Adam Empson and Guimmayen kept JDHS close at 41-38 with 3:57 remaining.

Ketchikan’s Alex Pihl would hit 10 free throws in a row and 15-16 in the final three minutes, scoring 15 of the Kings final 18 points.

Pihl led the Kings with 20 points, Matt Standley 11, Isaiah Navales and Omar Mendoza 10 apiece, Mo Bullock 4, and Nick Whicker and Ned Day two each.

Kayhi hit 22-34 at the line: JDHS went 6-16.

Guimmayen and Adam Empson led the Crimson Bears with 16 points apiece, Schultz 6, Tompkins 5, Swofford 4, Klein 3 and Jacob Thibodeau 2.

The Crimson Bears will return 90-percent of their scoring from this season.

“I was extremely proud of our guys,” Casperson said. “They carried themselves with class and with dignity and conducted themselves in a respectful manner all season long. That is more important to me than our wins and loses. You have to win with class and lose with dignity. They certainly did both of those things. I don’t believe I could be more proud of them. Our seniors established a demeanor and work ethic that should set the tone for our guys coming back.”

Thursday March 06, 2014
Kings clobber JDHS in opening round of boys Region V basketball tournament - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team fell behind 14-2 in the first quarter and 21-8 at the half against the Ketchikan Kings and could not make up the difference in a 50-38 loss to open the Region V basketball tournament Wednesday night at JDHS.

Ketchikan hit just 19-42 from the charity stripe in the game (14-31 in the fourth quarter) but still had enough to carry the win.

JDHS’ Kaleb Tompkins, Kevin Guimmayen and Gunnar Schultz carried the Crimson Bears in the second half.

Tompkins and Schultz tallied five points each in a 14-6 third quarter run that put JDHS within five points at the end of the stanza, 27-22.

Bryce Swofford closed the score to three points at 29-26 and Tompkins added a basket to keep it at three again with 31-28.

The Crimson Bears picked up the pressure, but Kayhi responded with a 19-10 run to end the game.

Tompkins led the Crimson Bears with 9 points, Guimmayen added 8, Schultz 7, Swofford and Nathan Klein 4 apiece, Rahul Chhabria and Adam Empson 3 each.

JDHS hit 7-12 from the line.

Alex Pihl led Kayhi with 18 points, Isaiah Navales added 12, Mo Bullock 9, Ned Day 5, Colton Paulsen 4 and Malik Almenzor 2.

“They rattled our cages a little in the third quarter,” Pihl told the Ketchikan Daily News. “But that is why we have intense practices for moments like these.”

Ketchikan advances to play top seed Thunder Mountain at 5 p.m. tonight. JDHS plays at 1:15 p.m. Friday in an elimination game against the loser of TMHS/KTN.

Tuesday March 04, 2014
Who is loudest? Regional tournament will decide - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Loudest is best.

According to a Juneau-Douglas High School pep band member, that makes cross-town rival Thunder Mountain the band to beat. Yes, at the Region V basketball championships, more is at stake than just a hoops title.

Pep bands, cheerleaders, dance teams and students from across Southeast will start rooting today at 8 a.m. when the 3A Petersburg Vikings girls, with bruising Dino Brock of Wrangell High School, take on the Sitka Lady Wolves, coached by Kathy Forrester.

That game will be followed by the 3A boys battle between the Vikings and the Mt. Edgecumbe Braves at 9:45 a.m.

Petersburg coach Rick Brock, Dino’s brother and a defensive hacker in his days at Wrangell High School, will face their cousin, Mt. Edgecumbe coach Archie Young.

Young was deep-three threat in his own right at Wrangell High and now preaches defense to his boys at MEHS. Rick’s son Michael will be at the point for the Braves. He is a lefty. Lefties are sneaky.

There are going to be enough Brocks in the gym to start a sneaker brand.

This is what Southeast ball is all about.

Connections.

With five seniors, the Vikings boys have experience — and some youthful size in 6-foot-6 junior Colby Bell and 6-foot-6 freshman Jesse Lantiegne.

According to my recollection, the Brocks like to add an inch in the program — but after seeing these lads in person, they may have subtracted. They are tall.

Mt. Edgecumbe is always cool because the players hail from all over. This year we have Hydaburg, Galena, Kwethluk, Mountain Village, St. Michael, Port Lions, Anchorage, Dillingham, St. Paul Island, Quinhagak, Kotlik, Palmer, Golovin, Hoonah, Nome, Bethel and Elim among the two teams nestled at the base of the school’s namesake volcano.

Meshing the styles of a dozen villages is always a handful of work, but that is why Young is at the top of the college-coaching list if he ever decides to move on.

However, waiting tomorrow at 1:15 p.m. with the No. 1 seed is Sitka High. The Wolves have 10 seniors, a virtual legislature of experience.

Two of those seniors, 6-foot-6ers Brian Way and Kendrick Payton, need special stickers on their cars if traveling in low bridge areas.

Lady Braves head coach Dane Vincent has the girls seeded first.

So the Vikings girls and the Sitka Lady Wolves, who play at 8 a.m., will need the rest of that day and night to rest up when the winner faces Mt. Edgecumbe tomorrow at 11:30 a.m.

Petersburg has on the roster — you guessed it — another Brock. Dino’s sophomore niece Ruby has the family aggressiveness, but the team gets a lot of action from seniors Sierra Streuli, Grace Weller and Fran Abbott and the talented underclass of junior Shalie Dahl and sophomore Kylie Wallace, among others.

Sitka senior Megan Reid powers the inside for the Lady Wolves, and classmate Sophie Mudry controls the outside, but junior Sid Riggs may be the most dangerous. Fans should also keep an eye out for freshman Zoe Krupa, a brick off the old block from her dad, former coach Rich Krupa.

Morning games are always the toughest at tourney time and the loser of this one finds themselves in another 8 a.m. clash Friday. The winners get an 11:30 a.m. match tomorrow against Mt. Edgecumbe.

The 2A teams will rock the gym for the middle four games today.

It has been a long time since Metlakatla has ruled the roost in the league, and this year both the boys and girls brackets have identical seedings.

At 11:30 a.m. today the MissChiefs (14-3 Overall, 11-1 Southeast) will take on the Glacier Bears girls, or Lady Glacier Bears, or the team from Haines of the opposite sex.

Don’t get me started.

Following the girls, the Chiefs (14-4, 10-2) will live up to their top billing by tipping off against the Glacier Bears boys at 1:15 p.m.

Metlakatla is a really balanced team led by senior Drew Yliniemi. A 5-foot-something guard can be an impact player.

Remember a certain 5-foot-maybe-8 PSG Vikings guard who holds the Southeast single-game scoring record? 69 points? Without overtime? Without the three-point line? Ring a bell?

Dave Ohmer did that damage in 1971 on a trip to the Mt. Edgecumbe fieldhouse. I heard those rims were used as Sitka Sound filler and the nets were burned in effigy shortly afterward. No player has been able to get his groove ever since.

The Chiefs also have Tristan Alexander in the middle, and like all true Annette Islanders these boys — and girls — are not afraid to shoot.

With last names that include Marsden, Henderson, Hudson, Hayward, Guthrie, Williams and Nelson, one expects the ball to be lofted often.

Haines will be dangerous. After dropping their first eight conference games, the Glacier Bears added a transfer player and swept Wrangell and Craig. They have seven seniors, and coach Steve Fossman is looking to send the bunch up north where they may be able to attend a UAA game and watch Fossman’s son, Kyle, play.

The Craig LADY Panthers (15-6, 8-6) and Wrangell LADY Wolves play at 3:15 p.m. These two teams have never played lady-like, and there should be a floor burn or five after this game.

Coach DJ Hansen will have the LPs ready to defend last season’s region and state titles.

The losers of the 2A girls openers play at 8 a.m. tomorrow in an elimination game; the winners meet in tomorrow’s 6:45 p.m. contest.

The boys game between the two schools is just as feisty and, at 5 p.m., is going to spoil some dinner times.

Coaching genius Ray Stokes — yes he had the Brocks and Young in his stable — always gets the most out of his charges, and he has another of his offspring (sophomore Blake) balling from the left-hand side this season with leftie senior Robbie Marshall. Lefties always cause problems (see Brock comma Michael).

Lefties definitely have an advantage over us Scandinavians so it is a good thing we have the 2A/3A split. We will just have to wait and see if anything happens in the cross over games.

The Wolves are one of the few 2A teams who have beaten MET this year.

That occurred, according to a reliable source, because the red-and-white played really well in their home den, the Chiefs were using square basketballs, the heavens opened and pigs flew.

To earn a game against the top seed, the Wolves need to get past No. 2 seed Craig. When the Panthers boys are on, they can shoot. If they miss, 6-foot-6 senior Lincoln Isaacs gets first dibs on the trash.

The losers of the 2A boys opening games play at 9:45 a.m. tomorrow in a loser-out game; the winners play in the prime 8:30 p.m. slot.

Prime time games tonight are the 4A clashes; girls at 6:45 p.m. and boys at 8:30 p.m.

Local fans never tire watching the Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas girls square off, and although the Falcons (14-10, 6-2) and Crimson Bears (3-21, 0-6) may seem mismatched by numbers, they became increasingly better games as the season wound down.

The JDHS girls live and die by seniors Kaitlin Fagerstrom and Kymberlee Kelly, but they have exuberance to spare. If they can string together four quarters for a dollar, they are a team to contend with.

The TMHS girls are on the verge of a title. Junior Ashley Young is a force inside, sophomore Ava Tompkins is a talent on the wing, and senior Michaela Demmert is a heady ball handler. Throw in the scrappy juniors Cheyenne Ekis and Siosi Tupou, and this team can take another win from top-seed Ketchikan.

The Falcons topped Kayhi twice, winning at home 46-41 (lost the second game 49-47) and on the road 37-35 (lost the first game 53-29).

Ketchikan will get the winner tomorrow at 3:15 p.m. and the losers of the opening series play Friday in an elimination game at 11:30 a.m.

The Lady Kings (15-6, 6-2) feature senior experience with Jayley Taylor and Alexis Crellin and talented underclassmen including Alexis Biggerstaff, Eliah Anderson, Charley Edwardson, Courtney Kemble and AJ Dela Cruz.

Tonight’s 8:30 p.m. clash between the JDHS (8-14, 2-6) and Kayhi boys (13-9, 5-3) should be fun. Their history dates back to 1930 when the Kings, called the Polar Bears then, started a back-to-back title run over the Douglas Huskies.

Kayhi began a five-year region title run in 1964 in the Capital City and it became known as the “John Brown era” in 1965 as the freshman star made his first appearance and led the Kings to multiple state titles as well.

The shorts are longer today. The games are still as intense.

Six seniors lead Kayhi up and down the floor, but the team’s strength is junior Alex Pihl at the guard and sophomore Mo Bullock in the paint.

The Crimson Bears have found chemistry late in the season. Junior Adam Empson leads a yard sale of players that include a freshman (Bryce Swofford), a sophomore (Kaleb Tompkins), a classmate (Gunnar Schultz) and a senior or two (Kevin Guimmayen and Dartanan Hodge-Campos).

The loser rests until 1:15 p.m. Friday. The winner gets top seed Thunder Mountain at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

The Falcons are what Southeast basketball has been about since 1929, when the Petersburg Vikings took the first All Alaska Championship in a three-game series over Fairbanks.

The Vikings traveled by fishing boat and train and after two weeks reached their opponent’s gym. They lost 16-11, won 18-17 and clinched 25-20. The news was spread by telegraph: “Petersburg All Alaska Champs.”

They were role models and role players. Harold Runstad, Joe Kahklen, Frank Gordon, Herb Mjorud, Arnold “Swede” Wasvick, Aubrey Shaquani, Louie McDonald and Leo Ness.

Line them up with TMHS.

Matt Seymour, Ben Jahn, Mike Uddipa, Luke Nye, Josh Palmer, Alan Fisher and Ryan Lee. These are seniors who meshed in middle school.

Add in juniors Jacob Calloway, Collin Ludeman, Brendan Pietz and RJ Markovich, sophomore Guy Bean and freshman Chase Saviers and, sans the train, this team can be special.

Can be.

On any given night, the Southeast Conference is up for grabs.

A team can finish first or last.

Even a bad-shooting team that has everything roll in during a game can be pretty amazing.

And pretty loud.

Welcome to Region V tournament basketball.

Sunday March 02, 2014
Falcons salvage region title with 77-66 win over Crimson Bears -Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     One night after falling 67-66 to the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears, the Thunder Mountain Falcons made a statement that they are still the team to beat when the Region V Tournament begins on Wednesday.

The Falcons broke open a close game on Saturday to defeat the Crimson Bears 77-68 and claim a piece of the Southeast Conference crown.

“We are definitely happy to have the regular season under us,” Thunder Mountain coach John Blasco said. “It was definitely a big win for us tonight. But it is not a crown yet.”

TMHS (16-7 Overall, 5-3 Southeast Conference) and Ketchikan (13-9, 5-3) share the crown by record but the Falcons hold the point differential tiebreaker, which gives them the No. 1 Region V tournament seed. JDHS (8-14, 2-6) is the No. 3 seed.

The Falcons’ senior scoring quartet of Matt Seymour, Ryan Lee, Ben Jahn and Josh Palmer got the fireworks going early as TMHS opened a 19-9 first quarter advantage.

JDHS sophomore Kaleb Tompkins hit back-to-back 3-point scores, one of the old-fashioned hoop and foul variety, to keep the Crimson Bears close at 19-15 starting the second stanza.

“I think our defensive energy was key,” Blasco said. “Defensive energy the entire game. We pressured them a lot more than the night before.”

The Crimson Bears turned the tide to take a 33-32 halftime advantage and did still manage seven 3-point shots but the Falcons bench was key.

“Both the first and third quarter I got guys in foul trouble,” Blasco said. “I was very pleased with guys coming off the bench and stepping up.”

Alan Fisher, Chase Saviers and Trent Uddipa played major roles stepping onto the floor.

The TMHS seniors closed the game from the free throw line.

Palmer led the Falcons with 20 points and went 13-15 at the free throw line. Seymour added 14 points with 5 rebounds and 3 assists, and was 3-4 from the line.

Empson led the Crimson Bears with 15 points, 7 rebounds and was 7-10 at the line. Tompkins added 14 points and was 5-8 from the field.

Scoring:

TMHS – Palmer 20, Seymour 14, Lee 13, Luke Nye 8, Jahn 7, Fisher 6, Chase Saviers 4, Trent Uddipa 2.

JDHS – Empson 15, Tompkins 14, Dar Hodge-Campos 12, Nathan Klein 8, Jacob Thibodeau 7, Manase Maake 4, Kevin Guimmayen 4, Bryce Swofford 2, Gunnar Schultz 1, Rahul Chhabria 1.

JDHS 13-19 freethrows; TMHS 22-39.

The Falcons will now get the No. 1 seed at the Region V tournament that starts on Wednesday at JDHS.

Ketchikan and JDHS play on Wednesday and TMHS gets the winner.

“Now we go study film on both Juneau and Ketchikan,” Blasco said. “This weekend was a great precursor to what this next weekend is going to be. Everybody is well balanced. It is going to be very competitive basketball.”

Region V tournament schedules and previews will run in Tuesdays paper.

Saturday March 01, 2014
Crimson Bears boys stun Falcons 67-66 - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     It’s official.

Anyone can beat anyone in Southeast high school basketball, and the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears stunned the state’s fourth-ranked Thunder Mountain Falcons 67-66 on Friday night in the JDHS gym.

“On any given weekend down here, anyone can win,” Juneau-Douglas coach Robert Casperson said. “This was old-school Southeast basketball. The kids on both teams competed, the fans on both sides were cheering and the atmosphere was exciting. That is what Southeast basketball is about.”

Sophomore Kaleb Tompkins hit one of two free throws with 7.2 seconds remaining to give JDHS a three-point lead at 67-64.

The Crimson Bears fouled TMHS junior Jacob Calloway on the inbound pass. Calloway missed the front end of a one-and-one, but senior Matt Seymour tipped in the rebound. JDHS threw the next pass the length of the court as time expired.

“I am just happy that we won the game,” Tompkins said. “That is all I care about.”

On a night when the banged-up, youthful Crimson Bears were not supposed to compete with the senior, poised Falcons, the stars aligned and the hoop was as large as the heavens.

JDHS hit 24-47 from the field, and 13-26 from beyond the arch, which is a miracle in itself considering the Crimson Bears shot just 11 percent in their last game against the Falcons. TMHS hit 25-45 from the field and 3-8 from the 3-point line.

Tompkins buried 4-8 from past the arch and Swofford was a perfect 3-3 past the line and finished with 12 points.

“I just focused on the shot,” Swofford said. “I did not expect to have the game I did. I was just approaching this game with the attitude to play the best that I could.”

JDHS led 53-45 starting the fourth quarter, but the Falcons went on a 10-4 run to cut the lead to 57-55 with four minutes remaining.

A Tompkins basket was answered by Falcons senior Josh Palmer and classmate Ryan Lee tied the score on a rebound and put back with 2:37 remaining.

Senior Adam Empson gave the Crimson Bears the lead again, hitting one free throw while the Falcons went cold at the charity stripe.

“We just came out aggressive and pushed the pace of the game,” Empson said. “I don’t think there was a point in the game that I ever relaxed.”

JDHS junior forward Nathan Klein hit his second 3-pointer of the game with 1:45 remaining for a four-point cushion, and senior Dartanan Hodge-Campos drove baseline and lofted a shot high off the glass for a six-point spread with a minute left.

Calloway and Seymour answered an Empson free throw and with 19.7 seconds remaining the Crimson Bears couldn’t inbound the ball and called time out.

A pair of missed free throws by JDHS put the rebound in the hands of Falcons senior Ben Jahn who threw an outlet pass to Seymour for a basket and two-point deficit of 66-64 with 8.9 seconds remaining.

Tompkins then sealed the win for JDHS and Seymour tipped in the final Falcons points.

“It was a very entertaining high school basketball game,” Thunder Mountain coach John Blasco said. “You have to give them credit. They shot the lights out. They maintained a very high level of energy for the whole game. It was a fun game to be a part of. It was just disappointing we came out on the other end. JD came to play and got the better of us tonight.”

The Falcons did not contest the three-point shot

“I don’t like to give up 67 points,” Blasco said. “So I am going to see what our defense could have done better.”

Thunder Mountain’s Seymour scored the first 3-pointer of the game which was answered by Klein for JDHS. The Falcons led for the last time in the game at 7-6 and the Crimson Bears were up 21-17 after one quarter.

The Falcons closed to within one point with 6:50 remaining in the second quarter and then within two at the 2:26 mark but JDHS closed the quarter on a 10-4 run to lead 40-32 at the half.

Ryan Lee had eight points in the third quarter for the Falcons and Palmer had a basket, four assists and two steals in the stanza to keep TMHS close at 53-45 starting the final period.

“He is a solid point guard,” Blasco said. “We have been working with him a lot to take over that point guard leadership role and I think he has accepted it and has done well with it. I feel comfortable putting the ball in his hands all game.”

The loss means that the Falcons must win Saturday to clinch a share of the regular season crown with Ketchikan. TMHS holds the point differential tiebreaker, which would give them the No. 1 Region V tournament seed. A loss to JDHS on Saturday gives the conference title and No. 1 seed to Kayhi. JDHS is the No. 3 seed.

JDHS Boys 67, TMHS Boys 66

TMHS- Ryan Lee- 16 PTS, 3 RB, 8-12 FG, 0-2 FT; Josh Palmer- 12 PTS, 1 RB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 6-11 FG, 0-3 3-P; Matt Seymour- 10 PTS, 4 RB, 5 AST, 3 STL, 3-7 FG, 1-2 FT, 1-4 3-PT; Jacob Calloway- 8 PTS, 6 RB, 1 AST, 2-3 FG, 3-5 FT; Colin Ludeman- 6 PTS, 4 AST, 3-3 FG, 0-1 FT; Trent Uddipa- 5 PTS, 1 STL, 2-2 FG, 1-1 FT; Alan Fisher- 5 PTS, 1 RB, 2-3 FG, 1-1 3-PT; Ben Jahn- 2 PTS, 4 RB, 2 AST, 1-2 FG; Luke Nye- 2 PTS, 1 AST, 1-2 FG.

JDHS- Kaleb Tompkins- 19 PTS, 2 AST, 7-11 FG, 1-2 FT, 4-8 3-PT; Bryce Swofford- 12 PTS, 2 RB, 1 AST, 4-6 FG, 2-5 FT, 2-3 3-PT; Adam Empson- 10 PTS, 5 RB, 13 AST, 1 STL, 4-10 FG, 2-4 FT, 0-1 3-PT; Nathan Klein- 9 PTS, 9 RB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 3-6 FG, 1-2 FT, 2-5 3-PT; Kevin Guimayen- 8 PTS, 2 RB, 3-6 FG, 2-5 3-PT; Gunnar Schultz- 7 PTS, 1 RB, 2-4 FG, 1-1 FT, 2-4 3-PT; Dar Hodge- Campos- 2 PTS, 1 RB, 1-4 FG.

Friday February 28, 2014
Hail Seniors! Play Ball! - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     PURE SOLE

What is round, rolls on the floor and is red, black, blue and silver all over.

Hint: It looks like a basketball.

No real joke here.

That is what it looks like when Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain get to hooping; a rock-and-roll, upside-down tumble along the sidelines and through the key as bragging rights are claimed.

The red-and-black of the JDHS boy’s basketball team has been a hue of black-and-blue this season and tonight the Crimson Bears will tip-off without star center Bruce Jones.

The 6-foot-6 junior suffered a meniscus tear in his knee during last Saturday’s game against Kodiak and will be out the remainder of the season.

This has come at a time when Jones was really starting to be an aggressive force inside for the Crimson Bears.

The injury also comes just as JDHS junior guard Adam Empson and freshman wing Stewart Conn return to the lineup, both from ankle injuries.

That trio would have given JDHS a respectable chance to reclaim the Region V title lost last season to TMHS.

Coach Robert Casperson knows he has enough talent and players who can step up.

They now need to find a strategy to slow down both TMHS and Ketchikan.

The Falcons, meanwhile, may be returning 6-foot-5 junior Jacob Calloway to the floor for limited minutes after missing the past eight games with an ankle injury.

Coach John Blasco will not be pushing the ball handling, rebounding, defending and shooting swing player as the Region tourney looms in another week.

Conditioning will be the key.

This weekend’s senior appreciation series between JDHS and TMHS will set the pairing for the Region V Tournament that follows on Mar. 5-8, also at JDHS.

The TMHS boys (15-6 overall, 4-2 Southeast Conference) are the team to beat in the Alaska Panhandle and through most of the remaining state.

The Falcons slipped a notch to fourth in the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches poll this week, partially due to their split on the road in Ketchikan.

The Kings (13-9, 5-3) have now taken a game at home and on the road from the Falcons.

If the Falcons win one-of-two games from the JDHS boys (7-13, 1-5) this weekend they earn the No. 1 seed for the region tourney by virtue of point differential over the Kings.

The TMHS boys must win both games to earn the regular-season title out right.

The Crimson Bears girls (3-19, 0-6) can do little to improve their placement when they play the Falcons girls (12-10, 4-2) this weekend. They can, however, keep working on an answer to coach Dee Boster’s question, “How can we put four complete quarters together in one game?”

And they can see what might work in the tourney, as the Falcons will be their first round opponent.

The Ketchikan girls (15-6, 6-2) have clinched the No. 1 seed in the Region tourney by virtue of the head-to-head point differential tiebreaker over TMHS. If the Falcons sweep JDHS this weekend they will officially share the regular-season crown with Kayhi, but the Lady Kings have the nod.

TMHS coach Tanya Nizich would love to put a crown in the Falcons trophy case.

While I have mentioned most of the seniors, I haven’t touched on the JDHS pep band and dance teams yet.

Those crazy upper class cats sitting aloft in the Bear Den alcove and wailing away are pep band officers David Dumesnil, Seth Bodine and Ali Hiley, along with band members Alex Soboleff, Riley Cummins, Abram Leigh, Johnny Connelly, Sam Adam, Ivan Urrita-Narino and Keenan Wright.

And those awesome senior ladies that cause a blackout most halftimes when they wow the crowd are Brandi Hall, Hannah Cassell, Corby Abel, Randi Held, Jessica Sjoroos and Brooke Moss.

So be ready to honor the JDHS girl’s basketball team directly following their 6:15 p.m. game on Saturday against Thunder Mountain, and be prepared to pay respects to the JDHS boys hoopsters and the cheer/stunt and dance team roughly five minutes before their 8 p.m. tip-off Saturday against the TMHS boys. Friday’s games will be at the same times, 6:15 p.m. for girls and 8 p.m. for boys. JV boys will play at 2:30 p.m. and JV girls at 4:30 p.m. both days.

Tonight’s games have meaning, and tomorrow nights have bragging rights, plus both have a lot of seniors who deserve flowers, balloons and an ice pack or two.

Southeast Conference Standings:

4A boys - Thunder Mountain 4-2, Ketchikan 5-3, Juneau-Douglas 1-5.

4A girls - Ketchikan 6-2, Thunder Mountain 4-2, Juneau-Douglas 0-6.

3A boys - Sitka 6-0, Petersburg 3-5, Mt. Edgecumbe 1-5.

3A girls - Mt. Edgecumbe 5-1, Petersburg 5-3, Sitka 0-6.

The Sitka boys and girls play Mt. Edgecumbe today and Saturday.

2A boys - Metlakatla 10-2, Craig 6-6, Wrangell 4-8, Haines 4-8.

The Wrangell boys won the seeding tiebreaker against Haines based on head-to-head point differential.

2A girls - Metlakatla 11-1, Craig 8-4, Wrangell 3-9, Haines 2-10.

AABC poll:

4A Boys - 1. Lathrop, 2. West Anchorage, 3. West Valley, 4. Thunder Mountain, 5. Colony.

4A Girls - 1. Kodiak, 2. West Anchorage, 3. Dimond, 4. West Valley, 5. Ketchikan.

3A Boys - 1. Monroe Catholic, 2. Anchorage Christian, 3. Bethel, 4. Grace Christian, 5. Nome.

3A Girls - 1. Anchorage Christian, 2. Valdez, 3. Mt Edgecumbe, 4. Nikiski, 5. Petersburg.

2A Boys - 1. Bristol Bay High, 2. Dillingham, 3. Metlakatla, 4. Hooper Bay, 5. Unalakleet.

2A Girls - 1. Dillingham, 2. Glennallen, 3. Unalakleet, 4. Hooper Bay, 5. Metlakatla.

1A Boys - 1. Klawock, 2. Noatak, 3. Yakutat, 4. Noorvik, 5. Scammon Bay.

1A Girls - 1. Nikolaevsk, 2. Cook Inlet Academy, 3. Shishmaref, 4. Kake, 5. Newhalen.

Thursday February 27, 2014
Juneau-Douglas will honor seniors during basketball clash with Thunder Mountain - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The Juneau-Douglas High School basketball teams will honor seniors during Saturday’s series against Thunder Mountain at JDHS. Also honored will be seniors on the Cheer/Stunt team, Dance and Pep Band.

The Crimson Bears girl’s basketball team will honor their seniors at the conclusion of their 6:15 p.m. game and the Crimson Bears boys will honor their seniors prior to the start of their 8 p.m. game along with the Cheer/ Stunt, Dance and Pep Band seniors.

Coaches sent in their thoughts on seniors via email.

Crimson Bears boys basketball (coach Robert Casperson):

Trevor Rich – One of the unsung heroes of the JDHS basketball program this year would have to be Trevor Rich. He shows up every day with a positive attitude, ready, willing, and able to give all that he has… every single time he steps on the floor. He is a much-needed “coach on the court” in games, based on his ability to communicate with his teammates. His steady improvement over the years has made him a reliable force on the interior, both offensively and defensively. Trevor is truly a gentle giant, always looking out for the wellbeing of his friends and teammates. Sadly, his senior season was cut short due to injury, but that hasn’t dampened his desire to remain a part of the program and support his team. Trevor’s effort and enthusiasm will be missed, but I know that he will be very successful as he moves on from Juneau-Douglas High School.

Kevin Guimmayen – (Speaking Captain) Kevin has ascended into the starting point guard position in his senior season and provided the team with leadership and guidance. By spending time working on his shot during the offseason, he has become someone that can be relied on to hit the three-point shot. Despite his willingness to share his smile quickly with those around him, when it is time to work he is all business. Kevin consistently encourages his younger teammates to keep going and work harder, which has helped them improve as the season has progressed. His teammates respect his ability to motivate and at the beginning of the year selected Kevin to be our speaking captain. I am confident that skills Kevin has displayed this year while working with his teammates will serve him well after graduation.

Dartanan (Dar) Hodge-Campos – As multi-sport athlete at Juneau-Douglas High School, Dar has brought his athleticism to the hardwood for another season. His competitive nature has brought some much-needed fire to our practices and games. He deeply enjoys the camaraderie of his teammates and has displayed more leadership as the season has progressed. Through pushing his limits and finding out the importance of commitment to goals, Dar has grown a lot in his senior season. I anticipate that he will use his experiences this year to transition successfully into his next endeavors.

Rahul Chhabria – During his 4 years with the program Rahul has improved as much as, if not more, than anyone I have ever worked with in my 14 years coaching at Juneau-Douglas High School. Rahul is the epitome of “first one in, last one out”. He shows up an hour before practice and stays long after our drill work has ended. This level of dedication has taken him from playing in C/JV games last year to our first guard off the bench. I know that he will apply his determination and work ethic after graduation to become a success in his chosen profession.

Crimson Bears girls basketball (coach Dee Boster):

Kayla Balovich - Kayla played C and JV as a freshman. Her sophomore and junior year she played varsity and was a swing player in JV games. She tore her ACL in the fall and was unable to play basketball this year. She has served as manager for the team. Kayla is a quiet yet determined young lady and we miss her “up and under” baseline post moves but we are glad she has been around the gym throughout the year.

Kaitlin Fagerstrom - Kaitlin has been on the varsity team all four years. She was a swing player in JV games her freshman and sophomore years and has started on varsity the last two years. She is probably the fastest player on the court at any given moment and when she “turns it on” she can get in a mode that is exciting (although sometimes scary) to watch. Kaitlin’s outside shooting and her ability to post up have led to high rebounding and scoring games and are definitely assets to the team.

Kacey Jackson - Kacey played C team her freshman year and JV her sophomore and junior years. She is a varsity starter this year. Kacey tore her ACL her freshman year and worked hard in the off-season to come back her sophomore year. Kacey is one of the quietest kids we have in the program. She has always been eager to learn and will do anything the coaches ask. She has a calming effect, which often times the coach needs. She works hard and brings a solid post defense to the game.

Kymberlee Kelly - Kym played C/JV as a freshman. She played varsity as a sophomore and was a swing player in JV games. She has been a starter on varsity the last two years. Kym brings a quiet aggressiveness to the court. She often times goes unnoticed until you look at the stats and see she delivered big on both rebounding and points. She is a defensive stopper as well.

Tori Fogg - Tori played C/JV as a freshman. Her sophomore and Junior year she played varsity and was a swing player in JV games. She is a starter on varsity this year. Tori has developed into a quiet leader on the court, is a hard worker, a good defender and has developed a crossover move that when executed is fun to watch. Tori isn’t afraid to push her teammates to become better.

Boster stated that Fagerstrom, Fogg and Kelly have their own kind of crazy personality and together make it hard not to smile and laugh.

“Often times at the most inappropriate times,” Boster said. “Like when the kids do something wrong and all you want to do is yell at them. Kacey and Kayla bring quietness and calmness to the gym that often times is desired. Whatever each brings, outside the X’s and O’s in their unique way (and without knowing), they have reminded the coaches to laugh, relax and take things into perspective. They make life fun and they will be missed.”

Senior Cheer/Stunt team members are:

Misha Culver, Jacob Hamilton, Breanna Helf, JD Hudson, Emily Keithahn, Sarah Landen, Tanya Miramontes, Elden Punongbayan, Sally Roesel, Natalia Sabova, George Sua, Derik Vance.

Dance and Pep Band rosters were not received by press time.