News Archives

Saturday December 29, 2012
Speck leads JDHS through West Valley- Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Juneau-Douglas High School senior Gary Speck picked up the Crimson Bears on his broad shoulders and carried them to a 65-64 victory over West Valley in Friday's nightcap game of the Capital City Classic.

Speck picked up Southeast, Speck picked up the town, and Speck picked up just about every loose ball and rebound, as he turned the fourth quarter into his personal highlight reel en route to scoring a game high 19 points stealing the wind out of the Wolfpack and leaving fans breathless as well.

The biggest of those came with 9.5 seconds remaining in the game and the Crimson Bears trailing 64-63.

Fouled inside after rebounding a missed Crimson Bears shot, Speck hit two free throws to seal the win.

"I was pretty nervous," Speck said. "I was shaking." The Crimson Bears went into the fourth quarter trailing 52-51. A 7-2 run by the Wolfpack, including a three-pointer by Jason Gordon (who fouled out 10 seconds later, pushed the lead to 59-53. West Valley's Charles Sudduth fouled out at the 4:19 mark and put Speck on the line.

Speck hit his first pair of free throws to edge closer, then rebounded a missed Wolfpack shot and hustled down court to receive a pretty pass from Keith Ainsworth for a baby hook. Twenty seconds later he rebounded a West Valley free throw, hustled down court, and received a nice pass from Adam Empson for another inside score to tie the game at 59.

Daniel Hornbuckle hit a deep three at the 2:15 mark for a 62-59 Wolfpack advantage. A trio of free throws by Empson, Aquino Brinson and Ainsworth countered a Hornbuckle basket and stay within two at 64-62 with 55 seconds remaining.

Brinson stole a pass and fouled out West Valley's Danny Egan. Brinson hit one of two and the Crimson Bears put West Valley's Forrest Clark at the line. Clark missed both and Speck had a rebound. Both teams committed turnovers and with less than 10 seconds remaining Speck sank the winners.

"I don't remember what I was thinking," Speck said. "I am pretty happy right now."

The Crimson Bears put on a full court press that made possible only a half court fling by West Valley as the buzzer sounded. The Wolfpack were hit with eight fouls in the final period and 42 for the game, of which the Crimson Bears connected on 31. West Valley hit 17-27 from the charity stripe.

Speck was human, missing two free throws in his nine-point second period. Brinson and Ainsworth picked up that slack, each scoring a deep triple and tallying seven and six points, respectively.

Scoring for JDHS were Speck with 19, Brinson and Ainsworth 11 apiece, Dar Hodge-Campos, Jeff Pusich and Empson six each, Kevin Guimmayen four and Ben Williams two.

Hornbuckle led West Valley with 14 points, Daniel Remington 13, J. Gordon 12, Sudduth and Clark eight, Egan seven and Damon Gordon two.

The Wolfpack led 18-12 starting the second quarter and trailed 38-35 starting the third.

The win gave the Crimson Bears a chance to derail East on Saturday and muddle up the tournament championship. The loss put the Wolfpack at 0-2 heading into their final game against Sitka.

Friday December 28, 2012
Wolves' boys take down Crimson Bears in Classic nightcap - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The Sitka High School Wolves boy’s basketball team overcame an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to stun the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears 65-59 in the nightcap game of the 22nd Annual Capital City Classic on Thursday night at JDHS gym.

“We came back from 19 down in the fourth quarter at Thunder Mountain,” Sitka coach Andy Lee said. “And we got it to three. So we have character and it revealed itself at the worst time. It has to reveal itself at better times; we have to be able to sustain it. It is a growing thing. We are pleased but not satisfied.”

The difference in the Thunder Mountain game is that Sitka lost. The Wolves scratched and clawed their way back into Thursday’s game against JDHS, scoring 29 points in the stanza to 12 for the Crimson Bears.

Sitka senior Jon De La Cruz started the run with a string of six straight points.

Each time the Wolves drew close JDHS responded.

Sophomore Adam Empson dished off to classmate Bruce Jones to push the lead to nine.

Sitka’s Brian Way and De La Cruz brought the score within three, 51-48, at the 4:15 mark and Oscar Barragan scored two of his biggest, and only, buckets to pull the Wolves within one at 51-50 and 53-52.

Jones scored between the two tallies for the Crimson Bears.

When Keith Ainsworth ripped a rebound from Sitka’s grasp and laid it in the momentum had turned again.

Way closed for Sitka again, hitting on a put back and then being fouled on a defensive rebound and sinking two from the charity stripe for a 56-55 lead. De La Cruz scored on a back door cut after a JDHS turnover for a three-point cushion with 1:44 remaining.

Empson kept JDHS within two with a pair of free throws with under a minute remaining but Barragan fed Way on a back door cut for an easy deuce and De La Cruz notched another pair of freebies. Empson again took charge, floating a soft shot high over the Sitka defense for his team high 20th point and the Crimson Bears last bucket.

“I like to keep it calm out there when there is a lot of pressure,” Empson said. “I like to work the offense in the high pressure situations.”

Forced to foul, JDHS watched Sitka’s AJ Inman sink three of four in the last 17 seconds for the win.

In the first half JDHS senior Gary Speck played a huge roll on the boards and Ainsworth hit for five points as JDHS battled to stay within four, 15-11, starting the second period.

Empson tallied eight points in the second period as the pressing Crimson Bears outscored the Wolves 16-7 and took a 27-22 lead into the break. Empson hit for six more thin the third period and Speck four as JDHS countered 10 points from Sitka’s Inman in the stanza.

“I just try to move the ball around, screen, and once you get open make the shot,” Empson said. “Then keep working on defense, play better and play harder.”

Ainsworth added 14 points for JDHS, Speck eight, Aquino Brinson six, Jeff Pusich and Jones four apiece, and Dar Hodge-Campos three.

Way led Sitka with a game high points, AJ Inman 16, De La Cruz 15, Joey Inman five, Barragan four and Kendrick Payton three. The Crimson Bears went 9-16 at the charity stripe, Sitka 17-26.

“We have won a couple games in a row and every one is sweeter,” Lee said. “But to come over here with a group of juniors and have them come together as a team and do it with teamwork and poise... that means as much as who we beat.”

Sitka will play East, a 77-54 winner over West Valley, at 3 p.m. today. JDHS plays West Valley at 7 p.m. tonight. Shooting contests are at 11 a.m.

Thursday December 27, 2012
Magic happens at Capital City Classic - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The holidays come to life on the basketball court of Juneau-Douglas High School beginning today.

The 22nd Annual Capital City Classic-Princess Cruises Basketball Tournament, back after a one-year hiatus, has produced some magical performances over the years and is a place for community winter gathering.

“The most fun of it all, my biggest memory, would probably be just how packed the gym was,” Thunder Mountain girls head coach Tanya Nizich said. “Standing room only for both the guys and the girls games.”

Nizich, who graduated from JDHS in 2000, played in four classic’s tournaments.

Seattle dynasty Garfield High School, California powerhouse Edison, Nampa (ID.), Australia... the CCC was the finest tournament in Alaska, if not the Pacific Northwest.

“We had all out-of-state teams come in for it every year,” Nizich said. “The competitiveness of those teams and we, the JD boys and girls, weren’t extremely powerful. It was a battle. I have not seen standing room only for a long time at high school games. It was just solid in the gym. Those are my best memories, there is no other better way to play than for a packed house.”

Nizich and the Crimson Bears won the tourney each of her four years and claimed the MVP trophy in 1999.

JDHS girls coach Dee Boster played in the tourney in 1985 as a member of the Prairie High School Falcons team from Brush Prairie near Vancouver, Washington, back before the classic took the Capital City moniker.

“I remember going to the Chapel By The Lake,” Boster said. “I remember going to the glacier. I remember this gym and I remember it being cold. But I remember most liking it because I met a whole bunch of people. It was a really cool experience.”

That experience included Boster’s first airplane trip, which still happens for some visiting squads.

JDHS boy’s coach Robert Casperson played in the tournament from 1993-95.

“One of the really cool things was playing those teams from down south,” Casperson said. “Just that complete unknown. And I remember that the teams from California would just rave about the snowball fight they had at the glacier, because they are not used to that.”

According to Casperson, the Capital City Classic came about when one of the JDHS squads in the late 80’s became weathered out of Juneau and stuck in Seattle, missing the holidays.

“It was in order to keep our kids home and provide safe and family fun entertainment over the Christmas break,” Casperson said. “It brought the alumni in to watch and became a community event.”

Last year’s bad economy forced multiple teams from down south to drop out of the tournament and has begun a long process to attract out of state competition. A team from Seattle, for instance, may have to fund raise for over three years just to afford the airfare involved. A team from California even longer. But when the teams arrive, the games become monumental.

JDHS alum Carlos Boozer, now with the Chicago Bulls, helped teammate Casperson win a title in his senior year by picking up a loose ball and laying it in with three seconds remaining over California's Northgate High School.

Garfield High School (Seattle, WA.), the defending 4A state champion, featured former Portland Trailblazer (now Minnesota Timberwolves) Brandon Roy (then a sophomore) and battled JDHS in the title game of 1999.

Referee Mike Kelly stated that the crowd was so noisy he was afraid no one would hear the official’s whistles.

“The gym would be packed an hour before the game,” Casperson said. “And I believe that was Garfield’s only loss that year. That was a talented group for Juneau, outside of Boozer.”

It could be the fans, delirious on coffee and coco and straight off the cold December streets.

It could be the student body, with their painted chests and alumni attending.

It could be the spirit of the award winning Juneau Dance Team, the top notch JDHS Cheer and Stunt team or the loud and proud JDHS Pep Band (all will perform at the JDHS games in the tourney).

Whatever it is, the Capital City Classic will provide it.

In 1997, when Nizich was a sophomore, senior Caroline Gruening was a late-game hero in wins over Burroughs (Calif.), Lakeside (Wash.) and then Castro Valley (Calif.) in the title game. Nizich scored 14 points in the title, Gruening scored 13 and garnished the MVP. Both made all tourney along with senior Kiersten Smith and junior Christina Capacci.

In that year Boozer, Dan Baxter, James Wilson and Robert Ridgeway were key in leading the Crimson Bears to the title over Kent-Meridian (Wash.)

Boozer would win the slam-dunk competition and Wilson the 3-point contest.

Those events will be featured on Friday this year as well, starting at 11 a.m. The contests are never a given by just the starting five.

In 2000, JDHS team manager Aaron Larson, a 6’5 towel and beverage dispenser, won the free-throw competition. Larson did it in style too, defeating the previous year’s winner, JDHS star Curtis Lane. Lane would get revenge by winning the three-point long ball contest. JDHS’ Kacie Murphy won for the girls and senior point guard Courtney Mason won the long ball contest. Kentlake’s (Wash.) Kenny Jackson won the slam-dunk competition.

This years tournament has an all-Alaskan look to it but the teams are still relatively unseen by many local sporting fans.

On the girl’s side, the 3A Anchorage Christian Lady Lions have nine players returning from their state playoff team of last season and seniors Sarah Geagel and Samatha Busse will be a hand full.

East Anchorage is fresh off a third place win over Kenai in their T-Bird Classic. Senior Togafitti Manu is a scoring machine and sophomore six-footer Taria Page is a power rebounder. Junior Dajah Motuga is a defensive wiz and leads the team in steals and assists. The T-Birds are straight up athletic.

Sitka lost the state 3A championship last season. The Wolves swept TMHS earlier this year. They feature no seniors and battle like they have a roster full of them.

The JDHS girls will have the crowd behind them. The Crimson Bears are finally starting to gel from the end of last season and through an 0-4 road trip up north. With the inside strength of Gabi Fenumiai, the all around play of Esra Siddeek and the quick backcourt leadership of Marissa Brakes they could turn that record around.

“It is an unknown,” Boster said. “It is three teams that are unknown, really, that we haven’t played before. That is exciting. You get to see new people, new ideas, and the game is different.”

On the boy’s side, East Anchorage is fresh off a 58-51 title win over Kodiak in the 2012 Powerade Al Howard Tip-Off Basketball Tournament. The T-Birds also beat Bethel 53-50. With five seniors taller than six-foot and six juniors that approach that mark, this squad is very athletic.

West Valley features all-around athlete Larenzo Graham who tallied 17 points, six rebounds and eight steals against powerful valley team Wasilla last week. Point guard Charles Suddeth is a key factor for the Wolfpack, as are Caleb Rowles, Simeon Ng and Daniel Remington off the bench.

The Sitka boys are tall by 3A standards (and defending region champs) and juniors Brian Way (6’5), Kendrick Payton (6’5) and AJ Inman (6’3) will battle on the boards to get the ball into the hands of their playmaker, senior Jon De La Cruz.

The JDHS boys showed they could compete with an athletic team in two losses to West Anchorage. They have scoring talent in senior Keith Ainsworth and sophomore Adam Empson, inside play from seniors Jeff Pusich, Gary Speck and sophomore Bruce Jones, plus a supporting cast that knows how to compete.

“From a fan’s perspective it is exciting,” Casperson said. “They get to watch team’s play their butts off. But they also get to see the championship cheer team and the championship drill team. There are so many positive youth activities the fans will get to see during the tournament.”

Continued Casperson, “We operate this tournament out of the red. We really appreciate the fan support because that helps us cover the costs and helps us try to break even.”

Now with two high schools, the Capital City Classic still searches for outside teams.

“We have never really talked about getting Thunder Mountain in the Classic,” Nizich said. “We haven’t really been offered an invite but we have our own winter tournament and, quite frankly, we play JD during the season. We understand the allure of playing out of town teams. I will be going to watch.”

This year the Falcons girls will host North Pole, Mt. Edgecumbe and Kotzebue in the Thunder Dome Tournament on Jan. 10-12. The Falcons’ boys could not find a tourney field and will travel to Anchorage.

The Game and event schedule for the Capital City Classic is on page B2 in the At Home box and as follow:

Today - 10:00 AM Tour of Juneau / 12:00 PM Coaches Meeting JDHS Gym / Session One, 1PM Anchorage Christian v East Anchorage Girls / 3PM West Valley v East Anchorage Boys / Session Two, 5PM JDHS v Sitka Girls / 7PM JDHS v Sitka Boys.

Friday December 28 - 11AM Shooting Contest / Session Three, 1PM East Anchorage v Sitka Girls / 3PM East Anchoarge v Sitka Boys / Session Four, 5PM JDHS v Anchorage Christian Girls/ 7PM JDHS v West Valley Boys

Saturday December 29 - 10AM Banquet Brunch in commons/ Session Five, 1PM Sitka v Anchorage Christian Girls / 3PM Sitka v West Valley Boys / Session Six, 5PM JDHS v East Anchorage Girls / 7PM JDHS v East Anchorage Boys / 8:30PM Awards / 9PM Dance.

Tournament pass for $30 gets fans in for every session. Individual pricing is $7 for adults per session; $5 for middle/high/college student with ID per session; $3 senior citizen/youth (6 years - 5th grade); children 5 years and under are free. Evening games will have half-time entertainment by the Juneau-Douglas High School Dance Team.

Wednesday December 26, 2012
Capital City Classic returns - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     There is one holiday return that all gift-giving Juneau basketball fans will enjoy.

The 22nd Annual Capital City Classic-Princess Cruises Basketball Tournament is back after a one-year hiatus. Look for a report in tomorrow’s sports. Schedule of games is on B2 in the At Home postings. Following is a brief run down of teams attending:

The 3A Anchorage Christian Lady Lions are a yearly representative in the high school state tournament at the end of every basketball season.

They are Tanner Ealum (1, FR., 5’0), Abigail Crayton (3, JR., 5’4), Michelle Coderre (5, JR., 5’2), Casie Warren (10, JR., 5’6), Dallas Dickerson (11, JR., 5’8), Hollie Duncan (13, JR., 5’6), Sarah Geagel (20, SR. 5’7), Madison Ealum (21, JR., 5’6), Samatha Busse (25, SR., 5’8), and Becca Land (52, FR., 5’10).

The 4A East High School Lady Thunder Birds play in, arguably, the strongest conference in the state, the Cook Inlet.

The Lady T-Birds are Vaasaumamao Pedro (12, JR., 5’9), Dajah Motuga (20, JR., 5’8), Kaitlyn Miles (22, JR., 5’7), Jasmine Richard (24, FR., 5’7)

Felila Manu (25, SO., 5’9), Shanterria Gillion (33, JR., 5’6), Togafiti Manu (42, SR., 5’9), Taria Pae (45, SO., 6’), and head coach Rick Henderson and assistant Joe Kueter.

The Sitka High School Wolves girl’s varsity returns to Juneau after sweeping the TMHS Falcons at the start of the season. Head coach Rich Krupa lost a lot of height from the team that lost in the 3A state championship game to Galena in overtime last year.

Sitka has experience from playing in a major spotlight and is a physical full court defensive club. The Wolves are Sophia Mudry (24, JR.), Hannah Davis (31, JR.), Kendal Phippen (2, JR.), Megan Reid (33, JR.), Sid Riggs (21, SO.), Ellie Cagle (32, SO.), Kyla Young (23, SO.), Kalene Koeling (34, SO.), Maraelia Romine (5, SO.), Minh Iwamoto (22, FR.), Haily Denkinger (3, FR.), Head coach Rich Krupa, assistants Jarrett Hirai, Mindy Jacoby, Kelly Garvin.

The 4A East High School Thunderbirds varsity boys are headed up by former Metlakatla coach Josh Muehlenkamp. Once again, strong conference play, and now the southeastern Met mentality, always makes the East side boys a very athletic opponent.

The players are Michael Bond (42, SR., 6’3), Matthew Hardwick (32, SR., 6’3), Xavier Johnson (11, SR., 6’1), Jarred Laws (12, SR., 6’0), Damon Pelham (34, SR., 6’2), Travon Brackett (22, JR., 5’10), Eudy Gomez (24, JR. 5’10), Matthew Gwayi-Chore (30, JR. 5’11), Haney Jacobo (15, JR., 5’10), CJ Pastor (14, JR. 5’10), Amaje Voliva (20, JR. 6’0), Desmond Johnson (10, SO., 5’10) and assistant coaches Al Harris, Jamie Poston, Kenton Sims, Jason Jno-Lewis, and Larry Wilson.

The 4A West Valley Wolfpack boy’s varsity battle in the Mid Alaska Conference, where the cold keeps a lot of players inside the gyms and honing their games.

The Wolfpack are David Carr (0, SR., 6’0), Jacob Carson (2, SR., 6’2), Larenzo Graham (4, SR., 6’3), Danny Eagan (10, JR., 5’10), Jordan Rodenberger (12, JR., 5’7), Daniel Remington (20, JR., 6’2), Charles Sudduth (22, SO., 6’0), Daniel Hornbuckle (24, FR., 5’10), Forrest Clark (30, JR., 6’4), Jason Gordon (32, JR., 6’2), Elijah Connell (34, JR., 6’3), Corey Kulis (40, SR., 6’4), Evan Colbert (50, JR., 6’7), Isaac Meadows (52, JR., 6’1), Joaquin Martines (54, SO., 6’5), Tyler Christmann (SO., 6’1), Simeon Ng (SO., 5’8), and Damon Gordon (SO., 6’2).

The 3A Sitka High School Wolves boy’s varsity is headed up by coach Andy Lee. Lee’s teams are always tenacious on the defensive end and this year the Wolves have a significant height advantage at the 3A level. The Wolves did fall in two close games to the 4A Thunder Mountain Falcons just a few weeks ago. The Wolves are Brian Way (32, JR., 6’5), Kendrick Payton (33, JR., 6’5), AJ Inman (3, JR., 6’3), Joey Inman (2, JR., 6’0), Oscar Barragan (1, JR., 5’9), Jon De La Cruz (23, SR., 5’10), Quentin White (12, JR., 6’1), Jaren Sumauang (20, JR., 5’8), Ryan Samuelson (34, JR., 6’3), and Tevin Bayne (21, FR., 6’0).

The JDHS Crimson Bears girl’s basketball team brings a unique factor to the tourney. Coaches Dee Boster and assistants Mary Rehfeld, Maddie Swofford, and Brittany Fenumiai all played in the classic.

This seasons team is Tori Fogg (4), T Jae Garcia (5), Marissa Brakes (21), Rachel Roldan (12), Amberli Fitka (30), Kymberlee Kelly (11), Esra Siddeek (34), Ari Gross (31), Gabi Fenumiai (33), Kayla Balovich (24) and Kaitlin Fagerstrom, along with assistant Jim Carson.

JDHS boy’s head coach Robert Casperson also played in the tourney.

The JDHS boys are Keith Ainsworth (11, SR., 6’3), Aquino Brinson (3, SR., 5’10), Adam Empson (12, SO., 6’1), Kevin Guimmayen (10, JR., 5’6), Dar Hodge-Campos (1, JR., 6’0), Bruce Jones (43, SO., 6’6), Nathan Klein (44, SO., 6’2), Jackson Lehnhart (14, SR., 5’10), Manase Make (25, SO., 5’8), Brenyn Marshall (2, SR., 6’0), Jeffrey Pusich (5, SR., 6’5), Gunnar Shultz (30, SO., 5’11), Gary Speck (40, SR., 6’4), Ben Williams (22, SR., 6’0), and John Yadao (23, SO., 5’3).

The JDHS Dance Team will be performing their award winning routines throughout the tourney. The team this season features Kassandra Burke (captain), Corby Abel (1st lieutenant), Taylor Daniels (1st lieutenant), Sarah Endicott (officer), Hannah Cassell (officer, Lily Hagerup, Krista Yadao, Caitlyn Taboada, Haley Ogoy, Maureen Carrillo, Caitlyn Hyatt, Ashley Wittwer, Brooke Moss, Anna Tran, Yana Warner, Galen Wright, Catherine Walsh, Adrienne Sypeck, Brandi Hall, and Amanda Stevenson.

The JDHS cheer and stunt team will be adding to the festive spirit with Charity Anderson, Marial Carrillo, Erika Cruz, Addie Gonwa-Ramonda, Jacob Hamilton, Randi Held, Troy Holden, Jerry Hudson, Tess Jeans, Emily Keithahn, Gina Kim, Brenda Lamas, Abigail Maloney-Sheakley, Tania Miramontes, Billy Palmer, Casandra Partin, Fernando Pintang, Elden Punongbayan, Sally Roesel, Jessica Sjoroos, Siaosi Sua, Derik Vance, Tempest Smith, Summer Smith and coaches Carlene Nore & Dawn Skrzynski.

Another important part of the action will be the musical talents of the JDHS Pep Band members are Sam Bibb, Seth Bodine, Elle Campbell, Matthew Campbell, John Connolly, Jon Edillor, Cheyenne Helmers, Sierra Helmers, Alexandra Hiley, Abram Leigh, Leah Liebelt, Spencer Lunda, Justin Miller, Bernadette Osborne, Megan Sheufelt, Alexander Soboleff, Carl Uchytil, and Ivan Urrutia-Narino.

Sunday December 16, 2012
JD Boys Fall South to Northern Foe West - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The Juneau-Douglas High School boy’s basketball team ran into one of Anchorage’s tougher ball clubs over the weekend in a season-opener that will not soon be forgotten.

The West High School Eagles used a powerful inside game and a full court press to dominate the Crimson Bears on Friday 66-29, and had to fight a tougher Crimson Bears squad in their 60-43 win on Saturday.

“The kids won’t forget that game,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said of Friday’s game. “They have to use it, tuck it away in their memory banks and pull from it when they need to. They need to realize how far they came in one game even.”

Keith Ainsworth led JDHS with 12 points on Friday, but two quick fouls in the first quarter limited his action with 6:01 left in that stanza and the Bears trailing 14-2.

West was up 17-8 starting the second quarter and tacked on another 14 points before the break, compared to six for JDHS. Ainsworth got his third foul with three minutes remaining in the half.

JDHS never got into an offensive flow and fell behind 44-23 starting the final quarter.

Aquino Brinson and Jeffrey Pusich scored four each in the game, Bruce Jones three, Kevin Guimmayen, Adam Empson and Nathan Klein two apiece.

JDHS hit 9-13 at the charity stripe, West was 7-12. Theo Oghide led the Eagles with 12 points, Joe Riley and Deandre Wilson 10 each, David Harrison eight, Ivan King seven, Da’zhon Wyche six, Jhayde Zamora five, Christian NiDoy four, Curtis Sicks and Riley McGee two each.

On Saturday West again got the first quarter advantage, taking an 18-8 lead into the second stanza but the Crimson Bears forced the action.

“We certainly did things better tonight,” Casperson said. “We executed a lot better. “

The Crimson Bears did not let the Eagles get the open looks they had the night before, closing out on the perimeter and pushing West out of the key.

JDHS played even with West through the second and third quarters, losing both by just one point. Empson scored seven of his eight game points in the period to pull JDHS to 47-35 starting the final quarter.

A quick three by Ainsworth cut the deficit to nine at 47-38 with 6:57 remaining. West pushed the margin again until Speck brought the Crimson Bears back to nine again.

West would pull the ball out to force action and drive to the basket, going to the free throw line 16 times in the final period and 29 for the game, making 15. JDHS went to the charity stripe just 13 times and hit nine.

Ainsworth led JDHS with 13 points, Speck and Empson eight apiece, Brinson seven, Pusich five, and Jones two.

Joe Riley led West with 16 points, McGee 11, Oghide nine, Wilson eight, Nidoy six, Wyche five, King and Harrison two each and Sicks one.

“There are definitely some positives,” Casperson said. “With a group like this needing experience, to see them go from a 37-point loss on Friday, and use an hour shoot-around on Saturday to make some adjustments and see them implement them in a game. That is encouraging. We are a work in progress and we are going to keep getting better. They have to understand that where we are now is not where we are going to be.”

Friday December 07, 2012
Historical Sports: 1957 JDHS Cheerleaders - Juneau Empire
     Click on (or copy and paste in a new web browser) the following link to view a picture of historic interest!

Monday November 26, 2012
Alaska High School Basketball Begins Today!
     November 26th is the official start date for Alaska High School Basketball. Check back often for updates to the website. Keep an eye out for rosters and stats (once games begin) to track all your favorite Crimson Bears.

Thursday October 25, 2012
JD Grads Playing College Basketball
     College basketball is just beginning and you can follow former Crimson Bears as they continue their playing career in the collegiate ranks. Copy and paste the links for each team's website in a new web browser to track these young men as they compete at the next level:

Will Egolf (JDHS 2006) is entering his senior year at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.

Dom Brinson (JDHS 2008) is entering his senior year at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

Taylor Swofford (JDHS 2012) is entering his freshman year at Oak Hills Christian College in Bemidji, Minnesota.

Tony Yadao (JDHS 2012) is entering his freshman year at Lower Columbia Community College in Longview, Washington.

Alec Calloway (JDHS 2012) is entering his freshman year at Edmonds Community College in Edmonds, Washington.

Wednesday October 24, 2012
AWARE thanks the community and the Crimson Bears- Saralyn Tabachnick, Executive Director AWARE, Inc.
     The 3rd Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes walk and run was another beautiful success! AWARE, Inc. and the Juneau Violence Prevention Coalition would like to thank the many community members who took part in the 1 mile walk and 5k run to raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault in Juneau. We would like to thank our community partner for this event, Southeast Alaska Board of Realtors, who continually demonstrates their commitment to build stronger communities. Thank you to our planning committee: Mimi Rothchild, Errol Champion and Jim Preston for their tireless work to plan this event, and to our generous Southeast Road Runners race organizer, Paul DeSloover, who donated his time to ensure an enjoyable event for everyone. We would like to thank our many volunteers, without whom this event would not have been the success it was: Ela Wehrmann; Sarah Schaefer; Catherine E. Sayre; Debbie White; Mike Race; Mandi Johnson; Steve Rothchild; Erika Rothchild; Lindsey Doctorman; Bill Doctorman; Bethany A. Woods; John Bennett; Julie Moe; Ati Nasiah; Kim Lucas; Emily Wolf; and the enthusiastic and helpful youth and staff from Juneau Youth Services.

Thank you, also, to many local businesses for their generous contributions: Costco; Heritage Coffee Company; The Rookery; Pavitt’s Health and Fitness; Nugget Alaskan Outfitter; and The Alaska Club.

We are grateful to the many high school athletes and coaches who came to show their support for this cause: JDHS Boys Basketball Team with coaches Robert Casperson and Greg Huebschen; TMHS Boys Basketball Team with coaches Robert Ridgeway and John Blasco; JDHS Cross Country Team with coaches Merry Ellefsen and Tristan Knutson-Lombardo; and the TMHS Cross Country Team with coach Scott May.

Over 100 people walked or ran to show their solidarity with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Lastly, I'd like to thank Mark Calvert, AWARE's Community Engagement Advocate for championing this event for October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and working with many community partners who choose to be part of the solution! We are grateful to be a part of such a caring community. Thank you, Juneau

Saralyn Tabachnick, Executive Director


Monday October 15, 2012
Men must become extra tough to stop violence against women - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Alaska ranks in the top five in the nation for domestic and sexual violence.

Even if it were in the top 50, that still would be too high.

On Saturday, community members came out to reinforce the travesty of that statistic with participation in Walk a Mile In Her Shoes one-mile walk and 5K run, an annual event hosted by AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies), Juneau Violence Prevention Coalition and Southeast Alaska Board of Realtors.

“Walk a Mile In Her Shoes is an international march to end gender violence,” AWARE Community Engagement Advocate Mark Calvert said. “It takes place in conjunction with the Juneau White Ribbon Pledge Drive. We have gathered over 1,000 White Ribbon Pledges from Juneau men and boys to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.”

Saturday event participants discovered it is extra tough to walk in high heels, but that uncomfortable feeling pales before the degrading and wicked acts of abuse.

“I am in so much pain I can’t think,” Matt Armstrong, a social worker for Juneau Youth Services, said, “I just want to support women and put an end to domestic violence. This is a great cause and it needs to happen. I hope I am a role model to the young men in this city and encourage them to be successful adults and good community advocates.”

Armstrong finished the walk with Juneau-Douglas High School junior Vlad Altman who wore xtraTufs.

Dzantik’i Heeni sixth grader Eli Douglas, still rubbing the sleep from his eyes after a commute into Douglas, wore shoes that would bring ridicule if donned among his Wolverine classmates.

“I wanted to support the cause,” Douglas said as he hobbled along the walking route. “And I wanted to help raise money for the cause. I think this is a powerful thing we are doing today.”

Young men were in abundance as local high school sports teams, including the Thunder Mountain and Juneau-Douglas basketball teams and the JDHS cross country team, either ran the 5K portion for the cause or slipped hairy toes into uncomfortable high heels to walk the mile.

“Our guys need to be aware of domestic violence and the issues surrounding it,” JDHS boys basketball coach Robert Casperson said. “Mark (Calvert) and I have been talking about doing the Coaching Boys Into Men and we discussed this as an opportunity to get our guys out into the community and support those efforts.”

Casperson said he has admired the work TMHS coach John Blasco has done in the Coaching Boys Into Men program. That sentiment was echoed by Calvert.

“John and his team have done incredible work,” Calvert said. “They have really raised awareness of gender violence and have gotten other boys and men in Juneau motivated. Look at this turnout today and it is very special to see men and boys in Juneau actually getting involved in ending gender violence and promoting gender equality.”

Along with Casperson, JDHS cross country coaches Tristan Knutson-Lombardo and Merry Ellefsen have now partnered with Coaching Boys Into Men.

JDHS cross-country freshmen Harrison Bibb and Duncan Smith finished the walk arm-in-arm supporting each other — literally — as well as women. Junior teammate Malik Brown and sophomore Riley Moser actually ran in borrowed high heels.

“It is super fun,” Moser said in anguish. “And we want to show that JDHS contributes and we are against women being hurt.”

Added Brown, “I feel like this is the least we can do for women. This hurt walking in these high heels but the whole time I was thinking that I can do this to stop domestic violence, it is worth it.”

Opting to wear flats instead of high heels in the walk, Earl Champion and Jim Preston, President and President-Elect of the Southeast Board of Realtors, finished in grand stride.

“It is a good, worthy cause,” Preston said. “We support this so here we are.”

Southeast Board of Realtors member Mimi Rothchild stated that realtors’ jobs are to help create healthy communities and this event is a starting point.

“People can come together and educate from very young ages,” Rothchild said. “Realtors aren’t just about selling houses, we are about strong communities. If we are going to stop violence against women we are going to need to start young and educate young men and boys to show that even if this is not what they see in their home, we are respecting women of all ages.”

In 2011 the Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA) conducted a statewide survey to determine how many women have been victimized. This information was formulated into snapshots of each community (

For Juneau alone the results are staggering.

Walk a Mile In Her Shoes sends message throughout community

Out of every 100 adult women residing in the City and Borough of Juneau, 47 have experienced intimate partner violence; 35 have experienced sexual violence; and 55 have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or both.

The national rate is 25 percent. Juneau’s local rate shows this has become an epidemic in the Capital City.

601 adult Juneau women were called at random for this study. The survey excluded non-English speaking women, women without phone access, and women not living in a residence (i.e., homeless women).

“At the heart of why we are working so hard to bring men into this movement to end domestic violence and sexual assault is that we believe most men are good and do not perpetrate violence,” Calvert said. “These are the men we are mobilizing. It is not enough for men to say, ‘I’m not going to commit violence against women.’ Men have to speak up when other men perpetrate violence and display sexist behavior that objectifies women and girls. When we say nothing and do nothing we are saying ‘It is just fine to be violent against women and girls.’ We are making great strides in Juneau, and today was a beautiful example of that.”

Sisters Eda and Eva Meyer, too young to understand what Saturday’s walk was about, observed multiple runners wearing costume wings run past them.

“Look,” Eda exclaimed. “Angels.”

(Editors note: Sponsorship and help for Saturday’s Walk A Mile In Her Shoes included SE Road Runners, Costco, Heritage, The Rookery, Alaska Club, Pavitt’s, and Nugget Alaskan Outfitter).

Monday September 17, 2012
Boy's Schedule Released
     Click on the "Varsity Schedule" tab under the "Varsity Team" pull down menu above to see where and when the boys will be in action this season. They have a very competitive schedule this year that includes 11 home games for you to attend and show your support the young men in red and black.

Saturday September 15, 2012
Crimson Bear Community Service
     Returning members of the JDHS Crimson Bears boys basketball team joined Juneau Parks & Rec in promoting healthy life choices at the annual "Day of Play". Over 100 kids from all over the city came to Floyd Dryden to shoot hoops with the varsity candidates.

Monday September 10, 2012
Alaska High School Basketball
     The first official day of the 2012-2013 season is Monday, November 26th. Players are working out across the state in preparation for what stands to be an exciting year. See you at the gym!

Saturday August 18, 2012
Basketball Camp a Success!
     While the masses were trolling the waters surrounding Juneau during the 66th annual Golden North Salmon Derby, 40+ school-aged youth were engaged in the development of their fundamental basketball skills at the Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp. This camp was held August 10-12, open to all those entering 2nd -12th grades, and supported by the Juneau-Douglas High School Boys basketball team and their booster organization, the Fast Break Club. Through the dedicated work of an entirely volunteer staff, campers worked hard and had fun while improving their shooting, dribbling, rebounding, and defensive fundamentals. The JDHS boys basketball staff ran the camp and was supported expertly by local players, alumni, and coaches.

Camp director and JDHS boys basketball head coach, Robert Casperson, would like to thank the following for their efforts helping Juneau’s future have a safe and enjoyable learning experience: George Houston, Akeem Micheli, Steve Houlihan, Greg Huebschen, Kevin Casperson, Dee Booster, Gilbert Mendoza, Jim Carson, Bob Saviers, Mike Foster, Emily Johnson, Lance Ibesate, Eric Gross, Brittany Fenumiai, Taylor Larson, Alex Fagerstrom, Bruce Jones, Marissa Brakes, Kaitlin Fagerstrom, Manase Maake, Kevin Guimmayen, Keith Ainsworth, Gunnar Shultz, Adam Empson, John Yadao, and Esra Siddeek. Also invaluable to the success of the weekend were Misha Culver and Corby Abel. They employed their outstanding organizational abilities by running the registration process, compiling player skills-test scores, and making the final preparations for the closing ceremony.

The JDHS boys basketball staff looks forward to building on his year’s experience and plans to bring you the Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp again next summer!

Sunday July 22, 2012
Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The opportunity to improve your skills has returned to Juneau after a summer hiatus

The Juneau-Douglas High School Boys Basketball team and the Fast Break Club are sponsoring the Juneau Fast Break Basketball Camp, August 10-12. The camp is for boys and girls entering 2nd through 12th grades in the 2012-13 school year; 2nd through 6th grades attend the morning sessions and 7th through 12th grades attend the afternoon sessions. Friday’s sessions are: morning 8-11 a.m., afternoon noon-3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday sessions are: morning 9 a.m.-noon, afternoon 2-5 p.m.

The camp is held at the JDHS gymnasium. Cost is $75 per player.

The weekend will be filled with fundamental instruction focused on improving individual skills through drill work and competition. Players will be grouped by age and appropriate level. Current and former high school and college coaches and players will provide personalized instruction in a positive learning environment to promote skill development and confidence. The gym will be open 30 minutes prior to the start of each session and close shortly after the end of each session.

For more information call 321-2595 or email

Thursday April 12, 2012
Crimson Bears' hoopster Yadao playing in state all-star game - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Juneau-Douglas High School senior Tony Yadao can’t seem to hang the sneakers up for the season as accolades keep sending the whippet-fast guard around the country.

Yadao will be competing in the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches Second Annual Senior All-Star Basketball games tonight at Soldotna High School and Saturday at Anchorage’s Grace Christian High School.

Players, 24 boys and 24 girls, are chosen by coaches throughout the state in recognition for senior, and high school, basketball careers that have been impressive. JDHS’ Lance Ibesate also was selected but is currently into his baseball season and cannot attend.

“It is pretty cool and special that we had two kids from our team selected to represent Juneau,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “It is a great nod to those two because they have worked so hard, since they were in the fourth grade they have been playing and focused.”

The selection truly represents the top players in the state as the process involves all four school-size classifications.

The selection for Yadao comes on the heels of his recent trip with 11 other Alaskan players coached by Dimond’s Jim Young on an Alaskan Exposure swing through some of the 36 colleges in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges. Yadao received several offers for play as did Crimson Bears’ teammate Alec Calloway.

Yadao also received some attention from the University of Alaska Anchorage during the state basketball tournament and his performance there has resulted in scouts looking forward to his play this weekend.

Calloway has an offer from Edmond’s CC (Wash). Ibesate has had numerous contacts including the College of the Redwoods (Calif.), the same school that gave former JDHS guard Dom Brinson his chance and resulted in a scholarship at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Senior Taylor Swofford also has been contacted by Minnesota’s Oak Hill Christian College.

“He’s a hard worker and has learned a lot,” Casperson said of Swofford. “He has come a long way in his three short years in the game.”

Senior Evan Gross will attend Brown University but is deferring for a year to join his brother in Europe. Jesse Miller will be attending UAA to run cross-country. Ryan Kelly is pursuing baseball colleges and Darien Stanger is looking for soccer action on the pitch.

Joining Yadao on the AABC senior all-star team is Haines’ Tyler Swinton. Swinton, also receiving UAA attention, is coming off an impressive display in the Lion’s Club Gold Medal Basketball Tournament where he nearly led the Haines Merchants to the “B” bracket championship.

“I am really happy for Tony and am glad I can go up and support him,” Casperson, who will be a chaperone said. “It is an old cliché but this really is a feather in his cap. It is something that Juneau, Crimson Bears fans and all basketball fans should be happy for him. And for Lance getting that recognition also. To be recognized as one of the top 24 seniors in the state is pretty nice.”

The boy’s team will also include Dimond’s Colter Lasher and Luke Adams, Bartlett’s Treshawn King-Dunbar and Trenton Anthony; Wasilla’s Braydon Kuiper, Connor Devine and Dylan Ferro; Monroe’s John Michaels and LaDarius Milton; Barrow’s Colin Long and Edward Benson; and Houston’s Scott Kramer and Phillip Pease. Also selected to play are Evan Withrow, Soldotna; Chris Parker, Eagle River; Farimang Touray, Service; Colton Anderson, Nikiski; Jared Straight, Palmer; Bo Reilly, Kenai; Jared Miller, Dillingham; Nathan Hadley, Buckland; and Chance Hunter, Scammon Bay.

The boys will be coached by 4A Coach of the Year Rob Galosich from Dimond, 3A Coach of the Year Chuck Boerger from Grace Christian, Soldotna’s Matt Johnson, and 1A Coach of the Year Wayne Morgan from Aniak.

Southeast also received recognition on the girl’s side with Craig’s Melissa Castle (UAA bound), Yakutat’s Tina Esbenshade, and Haines’ Hannah Wing and Amey Messerschmidt being selected. The girl’s team includes Wasilla’s Alyssa Hutchins and Pherriar Brumbaugh; and Point Hope’s Abbie Koenig and Caroline Long. Also playing are Savanna James, Houston; Jenna Buchanan, Galena; Brianna Kirk, Noatak; Saige Stefanski, Colony; Kandice Carroll, Ft. Yukon; Morgan Wensley, Kenai; Wedney Paleo, East; Cheryl Nidoy, West; Kristin Smeaton, Dillingham; Dessirrea Kenworth, Kotzebue; Caitlin Auble, Valdez; Meg Berry, Seward; Kira Polk, Bethal; Kasara Brandenburg, Palmer; Echo Winfrey, Hutchinson; Sierra Pedersen, Su Valley.

The girls will be coached by 4A Coach of the Year Steve Caciari from West Valley, 3A Coach of the Year Levi Duca from Dillingham, 2A Point Hope State Champion Ramona Rock, and state qualifier Soldotna’s Doug Blossom.

This year’s senior all-star games’ sponsors include: ASRC, Conoco Phillips, Larson’s Chiropractic, National Guard, Kimmel Athletic, Nike Team, YMCA and ASAP Printing. The travel expense for each athlete must be self-provided.

Sunday March 18, 2012
Crimson Bears beat Kardinals in tourney finale - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     JDHS boys defeat Kenai 51-38 in fourth/sixth-place game


The word bounced down the locker room corridors beneath the University of Alaska Anchorage basketball court after the Juneau-Douglas boys basketball team defeated Kenai 51-38 in the 4A state basketball championship’s fourth/sixth-place game on Saturday.

“Together,” JDHS senior guard Austin Shoemaker said as the players filed out of the gymnasium. “We played together. It was all about playing together. Getting each other shots. It was never about the individual.”

That theme was apparent as senior guard Tony Yadao scored 13 of the Crimson Bears first 15 points with no one-on-one sets.

“Together,” Yadao said outside the locker room. “We are all together. This is the first year that we have had such good team chemistry. We all bought into coach Robert Casperson’s system and that paid off for us. We knew this was our last game and gave it our all, and there are no regrets afterward.”

Yadao scored on an opening layup, off a screen, a steal, and all out of the offensive sets as the Crimson Bears opened a 15-10 first quarter advantage.

Shoemaker opened the second period with a put back and Alec Calloway scored two baskets in a row, the last on a no-look pass from Shoemaker, as JDHS pushed to a 21-12 advantage.

“Hard work, dedication and toughness,” senior guard Lance Ibesate said. “And together we achieved that.”

When Kenai hit two buckets to make a run Ibesate drained a deep three, Yadao fed Calloway underneath and Fenumiai followed a shot inside as JDHS slowly widened their lead to 29-20 at the half.

“A great year as we became a great family,” senior wing Alec Calloway said. “We became close friends. These guys are my family from now on.”

When Kenai made a surge in the third quarter it was senior center Evan Gross who challenged the Kardinals at the rim, blocking two shots in a row, part of his game-high six rejections. Gross sacrificed his scoring this season to be a defensive hub, pick setter and rebounder for the team.

“It was a great season and a good finish after four years,” Gross said. “It was nice to finish with a win, we haven’t done that in a while. This is a great group of kids and it has been really fun playing with them. We had a mindset, and it was coach Casperson’s philosophy, to stick together and I think we did that.”

The past three trips to state resulted in a final game loss. The 2012 Crimson Bears were not about to let that happen.

Leading 43-33 starting the final period the Crimson Bears gave coach Casperson his last grey hair of the season by letting Kenai get within eight points.

“They kind of got caught up in a frantic pace for a while,” Casperson said. “We took a time out and discussed that when the clock is running that is our friend, and when we have the ball the other team can’t score and we were going to work for lay ups and free throws the rest of the way.”

“When we have that much senior experience on the floor and waiting to come in off the bench you have guys that understand what we are talking about,” Casperson continued. “As a first year head coach I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to work with. They were very dedicated in the off-season and in their desire to improve. They are very positive individuals and very willing to do what we asked and had no complaints. They got after it and always encouraged each other. The senior class and the school can be very proud of their season. They set a high standard for the underclassmen to look up to.”

Then, together, the team flowed down court. Fenumiai followed a missed shot to score, Ibesate hit a free throw, Shoemaker hit two free throws Fenumiai hit another free throw and senior Ryan Kelly put a soft lay in off the glass.

“We worked hard and accomplished a lot to get fourth at state,” Kelly said. “We wanted more but this is a high seed overall.”

Yadao led the Crimson Bears with 16 points, Fenumiai and Ibesate nine apiece, Calloway eight, Shoemaker six, Kelly two and Gross one. Ibesate dished out a game-high six assists and Shoemaker pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. JDHS outrebounded Kenai 36-25. The Crimson Bears hit 12-21 at the charity stripe, Kenai 10-16. Colton Hayes scored 16 points for the Kardinals, AJ Hull added 14, Bo Reilly four, Garrett Berg and Shane Spalding two apiece.

JDHS junior Jackson Lehnhart summed up his season as a lot of fun.

“The seniors were definitely with us all,” Lehnhart said. “It was together. You didn’t see the separation between classes that there can be, they were friends more than they were seniors.”

Saturday March 17, 2012
JDHS 4A State Tournament Awards - Juneau Empire
     â€¢ Tony Yadao: All Tourney Boys

• JDHS girl's team: Sportsmanship Trophy

• Marissa Brakes and Esra Siddeek: All Tourney Girls

• Gabi Fenumiai, Ari Gross, Ryan Kelly and Evan Gross: Good Sport Team members

• Haley Klemmentson and Rina Soriano: All Tourney Cheer Team

Friday March 16, 2012
JDHS boys beat Lathrop at state tourney - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Crimson Bears victory advanced them to 4th-place game Saturday

ANCHORAGE — Alec Calloway scored the first basket of Juneau-Douglas High School’s second breakfast game of the 4A Boys state basketball championships and the Crimson Bears never looked back in a 55-42 win over Fairbanks’ Lathrop High School on Friday morning.

“We just wanted to live to play another game,” Calloway said. “If we lose we are done for the season. I just wanted to play hard and crash the boards hard.”

Calloway rebounded on Lathrop’s next missed shot, sent an outlet pass to Lance Ibesate who hit Austin Shoemaker for an easy layup. Evan Gross scored on the next possession caused by a Calloway block and Tony Yadao followed that with a deep 3. The only starter not scoring in the first period was Ibesate, who dished out three assists in the stanza and the Crimson Bears were up 16-8 to start the second period.

Calloway scored 12 of his 14 points and seven of his team high 11 rebounds in the first half.

Ibesate scored two quick layups to start the second period and Ryan Kelly, Jeffrey Pusich and Phillip Fenumiai capped off a substitution run that left the Malemutes (11-13) panting for a second wind and looking at a 30-17 deficit.

“I think we had our moments,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “Sadly, all the 8 a.m. practices and that game yesterday paid off for us. We had a decent start and were pretty active. If you take care of the ball and get good shots at the rim you will be in any ball game, and if you make those shots you put distance between yourself and your opponents. Lathrop is quick and they have fast hands. Their zone threw us off but we were able be patient. I am so proud of our guys for rallying today. It showed some leadership. We have a lot of seniors and they wanted to make sure they keep playing, so I am glad they worked hard today and played together.”

JDHS (21-6) didn’t let up in the second half as Shoemaker had two steals and Yadao hit three jumpers in a row as the Crimson Bears went on a 9-3 run to start the third period. JDHS led 46-29 starting the final period.

Yadao would finish with 14 points, 11 in the second half, and Ibesate added 11 with game high six assists and six rebounds. Gross added six points and three rebounds, Fenumiai three points and three boards, Kelly, Jackson Lehnhart and Shoemaker two each, and Jeffrey Pusich one. Shoemaker also pulled down five rebounds. JDHS had 15 turnovers in the contest and 27 between the first two games of the tourney.

The Crimson Bears hit 12-of-22 shots at the charity stripe, the Malemutes 8-of-11. Tremon Washington and Ryan Graham-Taylor led Lathrop with 10 points apiece.

“Juneau did a good job today,” Lathrop coach Milo Griffin said. “We have faced them five times in a row in this tournament and never beaten them. They always push the ball up the floor and a very disciplined team. They are going to give us 110 percent effort.”

The Crimson Bears will play Kenai at 2 p.m. Saturday in the fourth game at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

“We won’t change anything we do,” Casperson said. “We will just watch their game, find out their tendencies and go from there. Our team wanted to do the best they could, and that was a win today and hopefully a win tomorrow.”

Thursday March 15, 2012
Service slips past JDHS in tourney opener - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Hours before many capital city residents had downed their first cups of coffee, the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears’ boys basketball team had already put in a morning of hard work in the first game of the 4A state championships against the Service Cougars.

In, arguably, the most difficult game of tournament play the Crimson Bears and Cougars showed just how even their WPI rankings were in a 47-46 eye opener that dropped JDHS into consolation play and Service into the semifinals.

“We just wanted to win,” JDHS guard Lance Ibesate said. “We practiced all week at 6 a.m., we put in the hard work. It just went the other way. They are a very good team and good luck to them in the tourney.”

The Cougars used a barren beginning by the Crimson Bears in the fourth quarter to go on a 6-0 run and turn a 32-31 deficit into a 40-32 lead.

“We hit some dry spells,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “And Service was able to take advantage of those.”

Ibesate and Tony Yadao hit back-to-back deep 3s to bring JDHS back within two and Austin Shoemaker tied the game on a shot under the hoop with 2:54 remaining to play, but Service’s Adam Klie hit two free throws to give the Cougars the lead again and Fairmang Touray nailed a 3 to swing the momentum again.

Evan Gross picked up his third foul with one minute remaining, but the Cougars couldn’t convert and Austin Shoemaker drove the baseline and was fouled, converting both free throws to narrow the deficit to two at 45-43.

A pair of Service free throws by Fairmang put the Crimson Bears down four with 20 seconds remaining. Yadao found nothing but net with a triple to put the game at 47-46 with 16.8 seconds remaining, but the Crimson Bears got caught in a defensive rotation and couldn’t find a foul to stop the action until 2.8 seconds remaining.

A key rebound by Shoemaker gave JDHS a desperation shot by player-of-the-game selection Yadao from half court. The ball caromed off the backboard and the rim as the buzzer sounded.

“We all knew that this was the game that we wanted,” Yadao said. “It was one of our goals to get past the first round. Service is a tough team and we prepared well. Both teams competed but at the end of the day one team has to lose.”

It was a tough loss for the Crimson Bears, as they seemed to have control of the tight ball game throughout the first three quarters of play.

Alec Calloway scored on a put back to open play and had two key rebounds and Shoemaker hit a short jumper for a 4-0 lead just one minute into play.

Service would go on a 6-0 run to take the lead and JDHS responded with a Yadao score and free throw and two Ibesate charity stripers to regain the edge on the scoreboard.

JDHS lead 13-8 to start the second period and opened up the largest lead of the game at 19-11 as Yadao found two easy paths to the basket and Darien Stanger made two free throws. The Cougars closed the period with a 7-2 run to pull within four at the break, 21-17.

“No one tried to be a hero,” Casperson said. “They played like they have all season, as a team, and they trusted one another to get the job done. Our whole focus was attacking the rim and looking for layups and I think we did that.”

JDHS would score 16 points off of turnovers and Service 12 on Crimson Bears’ miscues. The teams both hit more than 70 percent from the charity stripe with JDHS going 12-for-17 and Service 8-for-11. Rebounds were 28-25 in favor of the Cougars and scoring off the bench showed Service with an 11-9 advantage. JDHS was 40 percent from beyond the arc. Service hit 30 percent of its treys.

“We put a lot of pressure on their defense,” Casperson said. “And they put a lot of pressure on ours.”

Service went to a full-court press to open second-half play and pulled within a point before Yadao and Shoemaker notched free throws and Yadao buried another three-pointer for a 25-21 advantage. Gross and Ibesate had back-to-back blocks to keep the Crimson Bears rolling until Service’s Klie nailed a shot and a free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play that pulled the Cougars within one point starting the final period at 32-31.

The game featured five lead changes and five ties with Service taking the lead with a triple, opening the final period and JDHS tying the score for the last time at 2:54.

Ibesate was honored with a third team All-State selection by the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches just prior to the state tournament.

“It feels good definitely and is a great honor,” Ibesate said. “But we are not in this for individual awards, we want that team award. We have to keep our heads up and not be devastated by this loss. We have to keep working. It is not over yet.”

Yadao led the Crimson Bears with 18 points and pulled three rebounds, Ibesate added eight points and four assists, Shoemaker had seven points and two rebounds, Phillip Fenumiai scored five points and grabbed a team-high six boards, Calloway added four points with four rips, and Stanger two points.

Klie led Service with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, Touray and Marquis Robinson scored 10 apiece, Darren Muller seven, Aukusitino four, Ihro Raguindin and AJ Collins two apiece.

“My hat’s off to them (Service), but I tell you what, I am really proud of our guys,” Casperson said. “We didn’t do anything wrong. I think we played a pretty good high school basketball game. I think our guys executed all the things that I asked them to and that we had prepared for and sometimes when you do that you can still come up short. I am disappointed for our guys but certainly not in them. They played hard and just came up short today.”

The Crimson Bears now face the loser of the 5 p.m. matchup between No. 1 seed Wasilla and eighth-seeded Lathrop. It is another early breakfast game, scheduled for an 8 a.m. tip. Another game the Crimson Bears have prepared to serve up some high intensity play in.

“You still can’t take away all the success we have had this year,” Yadao said. “We still have a chance to end our season with a win and that is what we are looking forward to doing. We all look up to each other and believe in each other. It is not just one person on this team; we need everyone and that is the key that has held us together this season. And coach Casperson has held us to that.”

In the locker room after the loss the Crimson Bears regrouped.

“I told them it was just time for us to change our goal,” Casperson said. “Our goal was to come up here and work to win a state championship. It didn’t happen. Sometimes in life your goal’s need to change when the situation and the circumstances change. That is what we are going to do. We are going to change our focus and prepare for our next opponent.”

Monday March 12, 2012
Alaska All-State Basketball teams announced - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Ibesate, Siddeek and Fenumiai receive distinctions

The Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches selections to the 2012 All-State Teams were announced on Monday. Juneau-Douglas senior Lance Ibesate was a 4A third team selection for the Crimson Bears’ boys and juniors Esra Siddeek and Gabi Fenumiai were second and third team selections for the girl’s honors. Ketchikan’s Kyle Day was a second team selection for the boys.

Sitka’s Mik Potrzuski and Sariah Ady and Haines’ Tyler Swinton were second team picks for 3A, and Craig’s Melissa Castle and Petersburg’s Carolyn Kvernvik were third teamers.

Yakutat’s Tina Esbenshade and Skagway’s Rori Leverton were first team 2A selections; Klawock’s Cassi Williams and Hydaburg’s William Carle were second teamers and Klawock’s Tonya Busse was third team.

Following are the AABC All-State selections:

4A Boys – Player of the Year: Connor Devine, Wasilla. Coach of the Year: Rob Galosich, Dimond. First Team – Devine (Wasilla), Ryden Hines (Dimond), Adam Klie (Service), Colter Lasher (Dimond), Treshawn King-Dunbar (Bartlett). Second Team: Trenton Anthony (Bartlett), Connor Looney (Palmer), Braydon Kuiper (Wasilla), Amu Aukisitino (Service), Kyle Day (Kayhi). Third Team: Lance Ibesate (JDHS), Evan Withrow (Soldotna), A.J. Hull (Kenai), Marques Robinson (Service), Kendall Brown (West).

4A Girls - Player of the Year: Alyssa Hutchins, Wasilla. Coach of the Year: Steve Caciari, West Valley. First Team: Hutchins (Wasilla), Sierra Afoa (Dimond), Hannah Matson (West Valley), Kaillee Skjold, (Soldotna), Mary Klapperich, (Colony). Second Team: Taylor Blake (Palmer), Alexis Imoe (Wasilla), Aminata Cole (Dimond), Esra Siddeek (JDHS), Savannah James (Houston). Third Team: Gabi Fenumiai (JDHS), Caitlyn Brice (West Valley), Alysha Devine (Wasilla), Josie Broderick (North Pole), Taria Page (East).

3A Boys - Player of the Year: Gus Simmers, ACS. Coach of the Year: Chuck Boerger, Grace Christian. First Team: Simmers (ACS), LaDarius Milton (Monroe Catholic), Colin Long (Barrow), Scooter Bynum (Monroe), Calvin Hoffman (ACS). Second Team: Mik Potrzuski (Sitka), Tyler Swinton (Haines), Jalen Terry (Seward), Nathan Blanford (Nome), Eddie Benson (Barrow). Third Team: Tyler Wells (Monroe), John Michaels (Monroe), Darren Silas (Hutchison), Glacier Rohrer (Valdez), Jared Miller (Dillingham).

3A Girls - Player of the Year: Jenna Buchanan, Galena. Coach of the Year: Levi Duca, Dillingham. First Team: Buchanan (Galena), Lynette Hepa (Barrow), Kristin Smeaton (Dillingham), Mimi Wood (Hutchison), Dessirea Kenworthy (Kotzebue). Second Team: Caitlin Auble (Valdez), Sariah Ady (Sitka), Meg Berry (Seward), Devynn Johnson (Nome), Alex Derifield (Valdez). Third Team: Melissa Castle (Craig), Kira Polk (Bethel), Dallas Dickerson (ACS), Carolyn Kvernvik (Petersburg), Misa Webber (Cordova).

2A Girls - Player of the Year: Brianna Kirk, Noatak. Coach of the Year: Bea Klaich, Nikoleavsk. First Team: Kirk (Noatak), Tina Esbenshade (Yakutat), Megan Bauder (Cook Inlet Academy), Chelsea Tooyak (Point Hope), Rori Leverton (Skagway). Second Team: Kelsi Leaf (CIA), Abbie Koenig (Point Hope), Cassi Williams (Klawock), Kilina Klaich (Nikoleavsk), Lorenda Mitchell (Selawik). Third Team: Caroline Long (Point Hope), Shanelle Coopchiak (Togiak), Shanyce Pacheco (Bristol Bay), Trisha Norton (Noatak), Tonya Busse (Klawock).

2A Boys - Player of the Year: Danny Wells, Noorvik. Coach of the Year: Darren Zibell, Noorvik. First Team: Wells (Noorvik), Stuart Towarak (Unalakleet), David Reischach (CIA), Chance Hunter (Scammon Bay), Andre Tipikin (Nikoleavsk). Second Team: Anthony Ashby (Noatak), Ronald Oviok III (Point Hope), William Carle (Hydaburg), Henry Kanulie (Akiachak), Walter Tebbits (Noorvik). Third Team: Jack Wheeler (Ninilchik), Nathan Hadley (Buckland), Jalen Katchatag (Unalakleet), Denzel Tooyak (Point Hope), Justin Ulak (Scammon Bay).

1A Girls - Player of the Year: Kandace Carroll, Fort Yukon. Coach of the Year: Ed Lester, Newhalen. First Team - Carroll (Fort Yukon), Marina Koonooka (Gambell), JoJo Nashookpuk (Alak), Sierra Nickoli (Newhalen), Maggie Beans (St. Mary’s). Second Team: Denise Fernandez (Shishmaref), Tracy Ahnangnatoguk (Brevig Mission), Ayla Rickteroff (Newhalen), Jazzlyn Garnie (Teller), Michelle Ningeulook (Golovin). Third Team: Ardyce Nayakik (Alak), Emma Weyiouanna (Shishmaref), Amber Barr (Kiana), Trish Morgan (Aniak), Maxine Kimoktoak (Koyuk).

1A Boys - Player of the Year: John Peterson, Golovin. Coach of the Year: Wayne Morgan, Aniak. First Team: John Peterson (Golovin), Tyler Anelon (Newhalen), Joe Kohler (New Stuyahok), Harry Morgan (Aniak) Joe Jemewouk (Elim). Second Team: Vernon Rock (Shaktoolik), John Tretikoff (Newhalen), Travis Tunguing (New Stuyahok), Shield Stalker (Kivalina), Brandon Tagarook (Nunamiut). Third Team: Eknaty Cobb (Newhalen), Aaron Solomon (Fort Yukon), Tyler Henderson (Huslia), Terrell Tanner (St. Michael), Brandon Long (St. Michael).

Tuesday March 06, 2012
There Be Dragons! - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     There are rumors of things that live beyond Egan Drive, past Mendenhall Glacier and over the horizon of Stephens Passage.

Beasties with three-handed jump shots; hulking creatures with elbows that can sever a man’s (or ladies) head from neck and torso; dastardly critters with breath that smells of Icy Hot and Ben Gay; wretched thingies that crouch low in the shadows and spring up without warning to snatch the life from unsuspecting travelers.

Such is the land of the ASAA state basketball tournament.

And there be dragons that await our lads and lasses venturing there.

And Lynx and Cougars.

The WPI (winning percentage index) seedings were announced on Sunday by those wicked kings on the thrones of the Alaska Scholastic Activities Association.

Various feudal lords won their respective region tournaments and seek to conquer the court north.

The Southeast Conference’s victorious Juneau-Douglas High School boys and girls; Cook Inlet Conference’s Dimond Lynx and runner-up West Anchorage Eagles (girls) and Dimond and runner-up Bartlett Golden Bears (boys); Northern Lights champions Wasilla Warriors and runner-up Soldotna Stars (girls) and Wasilla and runner-up Colony Knights (boys); and the Mid Alaska Conference champs West Valley Wolfpack (girls) and Lathrop Malemutes (boys).

ASAA implemented two At-Large WPI berths this year. On the girls side they went to the Northern Lights Conference’s Colony Knights and the Palmer Moose. This is the first time four teams from one conference have made the state basketball tournament.

The boys WPI berths went to Cook Inlet’s Service Cougars and Northern Lights’ Kenai Kardinals.

The WPI measures strength of schedule and how a team does against that schedule. It does not measure margin of victory or game location, only whether a team wins or loses. It is similar to the NCAA’s RPI (ratings percentage index) used in the NCAA tournament selection and seeding. The basic WPI formula is 50% team winning percentage and 50% opponents’ winning percentage. Only games against other Alaskan schools are counted.

Following are the bracket seedings based on WPI and instate records:

Boys – 1. Wasilla (18-0) vs. 8. Lathrop (11-6); 4. JDHS (18-3) vs. 5. Service (20-4); 3. Bartlett (15-4) vs. 6. Colony (13-9); 2. Dimond (23-0) vs. 7. Kenai (10-7).

Girls – 1.Wasilla (20-1) vs. 8. Palmer (9-8); 4. Soldotna (15-3) vs. 5. Colony (15-9); 3. West Valley (18-3) vs. 6. West Anchorage (17-7); 2. Dimond (21-0) vs. 7. JDHS (13-9).

The Crimson Bears will face their most daunting task to date, against foes that have vanquished them earlier in the year, the Service Cougars (boys) and Dimond Lynx (girls).

The JDHS girls played the Lynx the first week in February and at Dimond. The game was close at 12-9 after the first quarter. Six JDHS turnovers in the second quarter resulted in the Crimson Bears being outscored by 12 and trailed 32-17 at the half. They would lose the game by 16 points, outscoring the Lynx in the third period, staying even in the fourth and losing 54-38.

“Dimond is definitely beatable,” JDHS coach Dee Boster said. “Out defense has improved and gotten more intense.”

The Crimson Bears didn’t have Kaitlin Fagerstrom at the time and Gabi Fenumiai had just returned to the roster and the Lynx double-teamed her inside. JDHS was not prepared to shoot the ball from the perimeter.

Fagerstrom will give another outside scoring threat with Esra Siddeek and another defender on the perimeter with Marissa Brakes, Kymberlee Kelly and Sierra Tagaban. Fenumiai has seen multiple double teams since that game and has adapted. Dimond will run on the heels of Alexis Rogers, Tara Thompson and Aminata Cole.

“We definitely have our work cut out for us but everybody is beatable,” Boster said. “If we play the way we have been; then we have a very good chance of getting the job done; winning is not impossible. We must be patient on offense, something we did well at regions. . It was the Dimond game that brutally showed us we needed other people to step up and shoot the ball from outside; it was that game that made us incorporate way more shooting into our practices to get people Kymberlee, Marissa, Sierra and Kaitlin to SHOOT the ball. We have improved on that and hopefully will have more offensive threats; which hopefully will make it harder for Dimond to double team Gabi and be more aware of others on the perimeter.”

The JDHS boys played the Cougars on February 1 and lost 67-60. The Crimson Bears trailed by two, 15-13, starting the second period and tallied 23 points in the second stanza to take a 36-30 halftime lead. Phillip Fenumiai hit three triples in that run and had 17 points for the game while Alec Calloway, Austin Shoemaker and Lance Ibesate added 10 apiece and Tony Yadao seven. This is significant because the Cougars like to run and so do the Crimson Bears, and both teams play a hard defensive brand of full court plunder. JDHS went 19-22 from the charity stripe in that contest and SHS went 24-38. The Crimson Bears led 50-46 starting the final period, when they were outscored 21-10.

“Service is a guard driven team,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “They don’t have a lot of size, their bigs are more perimeter oriented or have those abilities.”

The Crimson Bears have a height advantage with Evan Gross, Gary Speck, Jeffrey Pusich and Taylor Swofford. The Cougars rely on the triple threat shooting of Adam Kile, Amu Aukusitino and Marquis Robinson.

“We had opportunities to win that game,” Casperson said. “We have to minimize our mistakes and maximize our efficiency on the offensive end. We need to move our feet and keep them in front of us and not reach on defense. We identified some things we need to work on when we played Thunder Mountain and Sitka, both very strong teams, in Ketchikan. It is a new setting and a new situation and you never know if we will feel the pressure. In the end though it is just basketball. Our guys have experience through the season and through their careers with playing basketball, and that is going to be our focus. Playing basketball. At regions we had a look in our eye, we were calm, collected and confident.”

Ibesate, Yadao, and Gross started at the state tourney last season and Calloway and Fenumiai played credible minutes.

“They have been there,” Casperson said. “The bright lights and big city stuff. I am not going to bring a tape measure like in Hoosiers or anything like that and measure the baskets for them. The Sullivan Arena is a great venue for sports, on the flipside it is completely different from anything anyone plays in during the high school season.”

The Crimson Bears know what lies beyond the edge of the court-world.

To get to the site of the impending battles ye must cross the tundra, sail an ocean, skirt a mountain, and pass a Starbucks or a McDonald's; then ye hang a horse’s trot left at Good King Sullivan’s Arena.

Pay heed brave knight and...

Beware, here be dragons.

Monday March 05, 2012
Final results from Southeast Region V hoops tournaments - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     4A boys and girls champions: Juneau-Douglas High School. Boy’s runner-up Thunder Mountain, girl’s runner-up Ketchikan.

3A boys and girls champions: Sitka High School. Boys runner-up Mt. Edgecumbe, girl’s runner-up Craig.

4A girls All-Conference team: Juneau-Douglas – Gabi Fenumiai, Marissa Brakes, Esra Siddeek; Ketchikan – Jayley Taylor, Melissa Elliott; Thunder Mountain – Jonelle Staveland.

4A boys All-Conference: Thunder Mountain – Ben Jahn; Juneau-Douglas – Tony Yadao, Lance Ibesate, Alec Calloway; Ketchikan – Kyle Day, Travis Taylor.

Free Throw Contest Winners: Girls – JDHS Esra Siddeek; Boys – Kayhi’s Kyle Day.

4A Cheer champions: Juneau-Douglas High School.

3A Cheer champions: Sitka High School, runner-up Mt. Edgecumbe.

Sportsmanship Award: Haines High School.

Good Sport and All-Academic not available via press time.

3A boys All-Conference: Petersburg – Taylor Pullar; Craig – DJ Almenzor; Metlakatla – Tadd Yliniemi, Erik Hudson; Haines – Tyler Swinton; Wrangell – Clayton Stokes; Mt. Edgecumbe – Kacy Green, Jaylin Prince, Dominique Hall; Sitka – Bae Widmier, Mik Potrzuski, Devan Romine.

3A girls All-Conference: Craig – Melissa Castle, Maggie Dinon; Petersburg – Carolyn Kvernvik, Emily Luczak; Sitka – Sariah Ady, Katina Wathen, Hunter Huddleston; Haines – Hannah Wing; Wrangell – Loni Buness; Metlakatla – Theresa Willington-McGilton; Mt. Edgecumbe – Brandi Hale.

Monday March 05, 2012
Crimson Bears the #4 Seed at State
     The boys basketball team has earned the #4 seed at the state tournament next week. They will play the #5 seed, Service, at 8:00am on Thursday, March 15th. Stay tuned for more details!

Sunday March 04, 2012
JDHS boys and girls win 3A/4A Crossover Championships - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears boys and girls took any bragging rights for top Southeast basketball team away from 3A champion Sitka on Saturday.

The JDHS girls topped 3A region champ Sitka 50-44. Leading 12-8 after one period of play and 23-19 at the break the Crimson Bears showed resolve by regaining a lead they lost at the end of the third quarter when they trailed 34-33. Gabi Fenumiai was unstoppable against Sitka’s Sariah Ady inside. Fenumiai scored a game-high 26 points and wing Esra Siddeek added 18, Marissa Brakes six, Kaitlin Fagerstrom and Kayla Balovich two apiece. Ady led the Wolves with 14 points, Sid Riggs nine, Megan Reid eight, Hunter Huddleston five, Kelsie Kubitch and Katina Wathen four apiece.

The JDHS boys kept an aggressive Sitka Wolves team from getting Southeast bragging rights with a 42-36 win. Sitka took a 13-11 first quarter lead, JDHS regained the quarter break advantage at 23-22 and the third quarter spread with 36-34 and then defensively put the clamps on the Wolves, allowing just two buckets in the final eight minutes of play.

Lance Ibesate had a game-high 12 points and eight assists, Tony Yadao added seven points, Austin Shoemaker and Alec Calloway six, Evan Gross five, Phillip Fenumiai three, Jeffrey Pusich and Darien Stanger two apiece. Sitka was led by Devan Romine’s 10 points, Mik Patrzuski had nine, Bae Widmier and Shad Puletau five apiece, John Dela Cruz four, and Hunter Lee three.

Saturday March 03, 2012
Thunder strikes Kayhi gym but Crimson Bears reign - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     JDHS weathers Falcons storm in 71-53 region title game win

“They are a good young team,” Juneau-Douglas High School senior guard Lance Ibesate said after his Crimson Bears had escaped a second Region V tournament game against Thunder Mountain on Friday night in Ketchikan. “They are not the ‘other’ team in Juneau anymore. There’s that little bit of rivalry but it’s all fun and games. Both of us are hard working teams and they bring that out in us. We want to come with the same intensity when we play up north.”

Friday’s 4A Region V 71-53 JDHS Championship game win on Friday, the Crimson Bears’ seventh title in a row, was all about intensity.

JDHS dropped the ball inside to Evan Gross in the first period to take advantage of his height. While Gross gave JDHS the first point of the game it was the Falcons Sam and Ben Jahn who played a bit more aggressive in the key.

“The exciting part about Region V basketball is about how tough a team can be for four straight days,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “Our guys have matured mentally and physically over the season and then to watch them play three or four strong games in a row is really a complement to them.”

Sam tipped in the Falcons first basket and lead and Ben attacked the rim for two more. Sam added another basket on a turn around jumper and Matt Seymour followed that with a drive and foul for an old fashioned three-point play.

The Crimson Bears closed out the quarter with Phillip Fenumiai driving and Ryan Kelly knocking down a jumper from beyond the arch to pull within four at 10-6.

On paper the JDHS team looked to have the advantage. The senior laden Crimson Bears were experienced in title games and the underclassmen-led Falcons were not. The Crimson Bears had two days of rest after Thunder Mountain took them to overtime in the tournament’s first game on Wednesday night. The Falcons had a chance to win the game but Keith Ainsworth’s shot, under a time constraint and heavy JDHS pressure, went in and out of the rim. The Falcons lost that game 57-48 while only hitting two free throws in the extra period.

The Falcons then had to dispatch of the home-courted Ketchikan Kings, for the second time in the tournament (they opened with a 46-38 win over Kayhi), and their third game in three days, and they dominated the Kings 48-39.

“We just wanted to go out strong and take advantage of every offensive possession and not waste any possessions with the ball,” Ibesate said. “We wanted to pressure their guards every second. We knew they would be tired. This feels good.”

While Ibesate went scoreless in the first period he scored nine of his game-high 19 points in the second period and was a handful both offensively and defensively for the Falcons’ guards.

Even more incredible was the play of Alec Calloway who had a “Michael Jordan” type game according to Coach Casperson.

“He didn’t have Michael’s 36 points but he had the flu,” Casperson said, referring to a game in which former NBA star Jordan was ill and did well. “The medical staff at the gym checked him out and kept an eye on him in the game. I was so impressed with his toughness. He just wants to play; he loves his teammates and wants to be in the game. When his teammates saw how hard he played that got them going too.”

Calloway started the second period with a huge rebound, scored on the other end of the court, got another rebound and scored again. Then he subbed out and promptly headed to a waste basket near the bench to throw up. It was a pattern he continued through the game, but an effort that gave the Crimson Bears a 21-10 scoring advantage in the second period and a 27-20 halftime lead.

“Alec knows he is a big part of this team,” Senior Tony Yadao said. “He showed us his heart tonight and we are really proud of him.”

Yadao also had heart, scoring 14 points in the game, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and getting six steals.

The Falcons were never out of the game. Even with tired legs they cut into a 13-point Crimson Bears lead with back-to-back triples from Josh Tupou and Ty Grussendorf.

After a Yadao jumper made it 37-28 JDHS, Sam Jahn again rolled out a left handed hook, which nestled into the net as the ref’s whistle blew. Jahn made the free-throw to draw TMHS within six.

Just when the Falcons seemed to have momentum Ibesate and Yadao blistered the length of the court and dropped three straight passes to Gary Speck who tickled the twine. Matt Seymour stopped the barrage briefly by knocking down three straight free throws and again pulling the Falcons to within 10 points at 46-34 ending the third period.

Keith Ainsworth and Seymour took the Falcons under their wings in the final period but the fresh legs of Ibesate and Yadao stretched the court and the lead for the Crimson Bears. Yadao would nail 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.

“It was a good crowd,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “Our cheerleaders did a good job, Thunder Mountain’s cheerleaders did a good job. It was everything you want from a regional game in that kind of atmosphere. It was fun. Coach Blasco did a great job with his kids this year. They got out there and they competed. I think the fatigue was a factor tonight.”

Ibesate led the Crimson Bears with 19 points, Yadao added 14, Calloway 11, Gross and Speck six apiece, Austin Shoemaker five, Kelly and Fenumiai four apiece, and Jesse Miller two.

Seymour led the Falcons with 14 points, S. Jahn added 12, B. Jahn seven, Ainsworth six, Vili Tupou four, Mike Uddipa, Ty Grussendorf and Josh Tupou three each, and Trent Uddipa one.

JDHS went 12-20 at the charity stripe, TMHS hit 17-26.

“There are a lot of emotions right now,” Tony Yadao said. “We feel really good about what we accomplished. We worked hard all year to get to this point right now. We have really good chemistry on the team and play together well. Defense has been our main focus in practice. If our defense is on then our offense will just follow. Did you see how hard Austin (Shoemaker) and Phil (Fenumiai) played? That is what gets us going.”

The win gave the Crimson Bears a perfect mark in Southeast conference play, although they did drop a game to 3A Mt. Edgecumbe last month.

The best case scenario should have been that the Falcons didn’t tire in the final quarter and took the championship as they are deserving of representing Southeast at the state championships. The Crimson Bears are also very deserving, as was evident in their schedule and wins across the state.

JDHS added to their southeast win total with a 42-36 victory over Sitka in the 3A/4A Crossover Championship on Saturday night.

The Crimson Bears led 23-22 at the half and 36-32 after three quarters in a game that, historically, is for bragging rights in the panhandle.

The Alaska School Activities Association will be announcing brackets, match-ups and game times for all classifications in their March Madness Alaska Selection Show today at 6 p.m. At that time the WPI (winning percentage index) will reveal two at-large teams into each the 4A Boys and Girls State Tournament.

Automatic state berths go to the Southeast Conference winner, the Mid Alaska winner, the Cook Inlet winner and runner up and the Northern Lights winner and runner up. Two additional teams from among the schools in the conferences will be added to the tournament and ranked with the qualifiers using the WPI system.

The WPI measures strength of schedule and how a team does against that schedule. It does not measure margin of victory or game location, only whether a team wins or loses. It is similar to the NCAA’s RPI (ratings percentage index) used in the NCAA tournament selection and seeding. The basic WPI formula is 50% team winning percentage and 50% opponents’ winning percentage. Only games against other Alaskan schools are counted.

The Thunder Mountain Falcons strength of schedule was not as strong as needed to secure one of the two At-Large invitations to the state championships. They, as well as Ketchikan, needed to win the Region V tournament to go to state or at least get a win against Juneau-Douglas.

As of Feb. 29, before the various region tournaments state-wide began, the WPI rankings and won/loss records against Alaska teams were Wasilla 15-0, Dimond 20-0, Service 18-3, Juneau 16-3, Bartlett 13-3, Kenai 5-4, Colony 11-8, Palmer 11-7, West Anch. 8-9, Kodiak 7-10, Soldotna 7-7, Lathrop 7-7, Ketchikan 7-12, Houston 6-4, Eagle River 6-12, Homer 3-6, East Anch. 4-13, Chugiak 4-16, West Valley 3-11, South Anch. 2-14, Thunder Mountain 2-11, North Pole 2-9, and Skyview 1-9.

While the Falcons may have moved up a notch by beating Ketchikan, Juneau-Douglas’ wins against TMHS in the tourney may have actually moved them down in the rankings. Therefore, the Crimson Bears may get a tough draw in the first round as seeding for the state tournament is 1-8 and JDHS’ WPI may have slipped to fifth, lower than one of the At-Large selections to be announced today.

Thursday March 01, 2012
JDHS Boys Escape with 57-48 Overtime Win Against Thunder Mountain - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Lance Ibesate called for a clear out and drove into a left handed lay up for the first two points of the Crimson Bears Region V opening game against Thunder Mountain at Ketchikan on Wednesday. A sign that the senior was all business. Ibesate pushed the ball up court on the next possession and Alec Calloway buried a three pointer for a five to nothing lead. The Falcons went to a running attack and Matt Seymour was fouled on a three point attempt, making two of three from the line. Keith Ainsworth buried a deep three to tie the score and the game would be a barn burner. JDHS’ Phil Fenumiai hit a triple and Ainsworth drove again for a score and the game was tied at eights. The Falcons took the lead at 9-8 on a Ben Jahn freethrow. Calloway gave the lead back to the Crimson Bears but Jahn was fouled again inside and scored to push TMHS back in front 12-10. Ibesate gave the Crimson Bears a 13-12 lead after one quarter. After a Falcons tie, Fenumiai drove the lane for two and JDHS led, only to have Ainsworth tip in a shot on TMHS’ next possession to knot the score at 17. The teams exchanged buckets into the break with the Falcons getting the last shot at the basket as Villi Tupou hit a triple for a 23-22 advantage. The back and forth continued through the third period with Ainsworth missing a triple at the buzzer and JDHS taking a 32-30 lead into the final stanza. Grussendorf drilled a three for the lead but Austin Shoemaker tied the score and Yadao gave JDHS the lead again. Seymour tied the scoe at 42-42 with two minutes remaining on another three-ball. Ben Jahn then scored inside for a 44-42 Falcons lead but Ibesate sank two freethrows to tie the score with 1:25 remaining. Jahn drew an offensive foul on a screen, missed a freethrow and was fouled again. Jahn hit both for a 46-44 lead but Ibesate drove the length and Shoemaker tipped in a bucket to knot the game at 46 with 30 seconds remaining. A last second shot missed for the Falcons play went to overtime. Seymour hit one of two freethrows for a 47-46 lead. The Falcons zone caused a turnover and TMHS missed a shot. Yadao missed a jumper but Shoemaker rebounded and fed Yadao who spun and scored. Yadao hit the shot and was fouled by Seymour. Yadao missed the freethrow but got his own rebound and was fouled again. With the Crimson Bears leading 48-47 Yadao hit two charity strippers for a 50-47 lead. The Crimson Bears pressed and forced a no look pass out of bounds and possession went to JDHS. With 37 seconds remaining Ibesate was fouled and hit one of two for a 51-47 advantage. On the second shot miss the Falcons knocked the ball out of bounds and had to foul Fenumiai immediately. Fenumiai made one of two freebies for a 52-47 lead. The Falcons rebounded and Ben Jahn was fouled, making one of two. Calloway rebounded the miss and was fouled and the senior knocked down one freethrow, missed the second and Fenumiai put in the rebound for a seven point lead at 55-48 and sealed the win. Shoemaker added two more freethrows for the 57-48 final.

Tuesday February 28, 2012
Region V Tourney Begins Tonight: JDHS Starts play Wednesday - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     For 14 of the 20 high school basketball teams in the Southeast Region V 3/4A tournament in Ketchikan, this will be the final games of their season. Just six will move on to the state venue in Anchorage.

The Falcons’ boys play Ketchikan at 7 p.m. tonight and the Falcons’ girls play the Lady Kings at 8:45 p.m. The Crimson Bears will play the winners of those respective games with the girls hooping at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and the boys following at 8:15 p.m. A complete schedule is on page B2.

Anything can happen at tournament time. For that very reason the region tournament went back to a double elimination format, much like the set up used by the smaller 2A schools. Not only does the two-loss requirement make for more fan enjoyment, more school participation and more tired referees but it also assures that the best team represents the conference at the next level. In the past, an upset of the number one seed meant that the team with the best record over three months suddenly found itself making reservations for spring break instead of state fast breaks.

For the boys, Juneau-Douglas has to be the favorite, as their record in conference and around the state is hefty.

They also have the majority of the beef inside with Evan Gross, Gary Speck and Taylor Swofford, plus two seasoned state-tournament guards in Lance Ibesate and Tony Yadao. They also possess a potent core of rebounding, slashing and shooting players in Alec Calloway, Austin Shoemaker, Phillip Fenumiai and Darien Stanger. Then they have Jesse Miller, Jeffrey Pusich and Ryan Kelly. They have bodies and are the deepest team in the tournament.

If the Crimson Bears spread the floor and let Ibesate and Yadao create, and the rest of the squad is patient and lets the offense come to them, good things will happen. When the Crimson Bears press and run they are dangerous, as long as they do it under control. Sometimes speed can be a train wreck if there is no conductor on board.

Thunder Mountain has speed and two of the most athletic scoring players in the league in Keith Ainsworth and Matt Seymour.

Plus the Falcons get a lot of football bravado from Camden Thomas, Villi and Josh Tupou, and Sam and Ben Jahn. They get nice bench minutes from Ty Grussendorf and Coltin Lanz and coach John Blasco is comfortable putting any of his kids on the court.

That confidence shows in how they play. They are fearless. They also play a little out of control at times, but once again, speed is contagious.

Ketchikan is at home. They are in their own beds and their own school and their own town. They will be comfortable there and the fan base in the First City is usually anti-anything Juneau.

The Kings boast the best shooting guard in the region in Kyle Day who averages over 25 points per game. They also have a solid big man in Travis Taylor and lots of speed. They are possibly the most patient team in the tournament and, did I mention, they are playing at home.

JDHS beat the Kings 69-55 and 75-60 in December at Kayhi, then beat them in Juneau 65-38 and 60-43. JDHS also beat TM 52-35 and 50-44 last weekend in both schools senior nights but if the Falcons had hit their free throws they would have won on Saturday. The Falcons boys lost to the Kings at Ketchikan on Feb. 17-18 by the scores of 54-53 and 52-47; they split here losing 51-46 and winning 59-53.

The Crimson Bears lone conference loss, 54-47, was at Ketchikan in Gabi Fenumiai’s first game back from injury. The Crimson Bears played soft on defense that night, relying on Fenumiai to pick up the slack and the conditioning and team chemistry wasn’t there. The following night both Fenumiai and Taylor were pivotal to their teams in the JDHS 77-72 triple overtime win.

“We definitely need to stay focused,” JDHS coach Dee Boster said. “We need to execute our plays and make sure we are very patient on offense. Additionally we need to insure that we have really good help defense because we will need to keep Jayley (Kayhi’s Jayley Taylor) and Jonelle (TMHS’s Jonelle Staveland) from driving and dishing off. They have been the main scorers against us. They create their scoring opportunities. They get a lot of their points from the free-throw line when we foul them. We are not looking past either team.”

JDHS won the series at Juneau 37-34 and 44-33. Meaning a few free throws or turnovers either way could prove to be the difference between these two teams. If Marissa Brakes, Sierra Tagaban, Kaitlin Fagerstrom, Kymberlee Kelly and TJae Garcia can be careful with the ball good things will happen. Especially with Ari Gross back on track, Nicole George and Kayla Balovich inside and Fenumiai simply unstoppable. Plus, they have, arguably the best player in southeast in Esra Siddeek.

The JDHS girls beat TMHS 55-43 and 66-30 last weekend.

The Thunder Mountain girls have dropped all four contests against JDHS and Kayhi but, in truth, they have not put one complete game together. They are capable of playing either team close for three quarters.

“After playing Ketchikan five times now we know they are a tough team and they work the ball around well,” TMHS coach Tanya Nizich said. “We need to focus on getting it inside more and attacking the basket.”

The Falcons lost to KHS at the Thunderdome 54-37 and 57-47 and at the region tourney site 52-38, after surrendering a fourth quarter lead, and 58-54 the following night.

Turnovers have been the TMHS downfall to date. They are slowly cutting back in that respect but the atmosphere of a region tournament can be unnerving. Coach Tanya Nizich will have to keep a tight rein on the court.

The Falcons are getting a lot of aggression out of Shale Kibby, Kinsey Marshall, Jonelle Staveland and Ashley Young.

“Defensively we need to watch our fouls,” Nizich said. “Fouls can put us into some trouble right off the bat. Ketchikan pulls it out and moves it around a little bit longer each possession, making the defense work for longer periods of time. Juneau kind of runs and guns, they are looking for a quick shot. Two teams with very different styles.”

Shayla Reeves, Emily Winters, Eyerus Tingley, Sarah Morris and Michaela Demmert are just a notch back but are capable of pushing the Falcons over the hump.

TMHS has Kayhi’s number and it is just a question of whether or not they are patient enough and careful enough on the offensive end tonight. If the Falcons get a win tonight, it could steamroll into a northern trip to state.

On the 3A brackets Sitka looks to take home two region titles, and possibly two second seeds to state with Mt. Edgecumbe following. The Sitka girls are 21-3 overall with losses to 4A powers Dimond and Juneau-Douglas and top 3A ranked Barrow. The losses were all on the road. The Mt. Edgecumbe girls have, talent wise, the second best team but play erratically. The Craig Lady Panthers cold possibly pull an upset over the Lady Braves in the second round but would probably win again in the state-play-in game on Saturday. Haines may win a game or two and possibly Metlakatla. Petersburg’s Lady Vikings have managed just one win this season.

For 3A boys, Sitka again is the class, although they have dropped one conference game to Mt. Edgecumbe. The Wolves do have the most talent but, as past years have shown, they tend to get emotional to the officiating. Haines and Mt. Edgecumbe are both solid but Archie Young runs a tight Braves ship and they should be packing their bags for up north. The traditionally strong Petersburg Vikings and Wrangell Wolves are in a down season with only two wins among them, both by the Norwegians.

Tournament games will be streamed live at

Monday February 27, 2012
Bears Head to Region V Tournament in Ketchikan
     The Crimson Bears (17-5, 8-0) travel to the First City for Regionals this week. Tournament brackets, schedules, and live web-streaming can be found at:

As the number 1 seed in the tournament, our first game is scheduled for 8:15 pm Wednesday against the winner of Tuesday night's Ketchikan (#2) v. Thunder Mountain (#3) game.

Sunday February 26, 2012
Crimson Bears and Falcons bid goodbye to seniors while thrilling fans - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     JD boys win 52-35 and 50-44

With just 10 seconds left in his high school home court career, Juneau-Douglas senior Jesse Miller got the chance he had been waiting for since basketball was one of his seasonal sports.

With the Crimson Bears ahead of cross-town rival Thunder Mountain 50-35, and a packed crowd looking on, Miller broke down court on a Falcons missed shot that teammate Ryan Kelly corralled. The Falcons defenders ran at Kelly who unleashed an unlikely pass through their towering arms.

The ball floated softly into Millers hands and became a rapid dribble, a timed two-footed leap, and a soft drop down over the rim.

“I have been working on it for a long time,” Miller said. “I just thought this is senior night, my final and last chance to get a dunk on my home floor. It was kind of a bet between me and my dad to see if I could get one. Finally I got it. It definitely wasn’t something I dreamed about as a freshman, but coming into my junior year I started to think I needed to work on getting up in the air. Now, well, it is just crazy.”

Miller’s “dunk” was just one piece of a weekend of lasting memories for the four varsity teams.

Friday’s first game pitted the Crimson Bears girls hosting the Falcons girls and Thunder Mountain’s Jonelle Staveland went crazy from the field, scoring 12 of the Falcons 14 first-half points to keep them in a 23-14 barnburner.

JDHS’ Esra Siddeek matched her shot for shot and tallied 12 of her game-high 19 points in the first half as well.

For the first time all season the two teams battled evenly every quarter, with the Crimson Bears going up 32-22 after three periods.

With seniors Nicole George and Sierra Tagaban for JDHS and Shale Kibby and Kinsey Marshall for TMHS on the floor the fourth quarter became an epic scoring fest.

George’s rebounding allowed Brakes to notch seven of her 10 game points in the period and Tagaban’s defense slowed the hot-shooting Staveland to some degree. For the Falcons, Kibby and Marshall made it a point to set hard picks that Staveland used to notch another seven points and allowed Ashley Young to concentrate on crashing the boards and scoring all nine of her points in the quarter.

JDHS scored 23 points in the fourth period and TMHS 21.

Siddeek led Juneau with 19 points, Gabi Fenumiai 13, Marissa Brakes 10, TJae Garcia six, Kayla Balovich, Amberli Fitka and George two each, and Tagaban one. Fenumiai grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds, Kaitlin Fagerstrom and George six apiece, Balovich and Brakes four each, Tagaban three, and Kymberlee Kelly two. Brakes gave out nine assists.

Staveland led the Falcons with 19 points, Young added nine, Kibby seven, Eyerus Tingley four, Shayla Reeves two, and Micheala Demmert and Emily Winters one apiece. Staveland and Young pulled down six rebound apiece, Kibby and Tingley three each. JDHS hit16-35 from the charity stripe, TMHS went 14-22.

If the girls game was a barn burner than the boys followed on Friday night with a barn raiser as the visiting Falcons got behind the deep shooting of Keith Ainsworth, Matt Seymour and Ty Grussendorf to open a 16-10 first period lead. The JDHS seniors scored the point total in the first half for the Crimson Bears. Taylor Swofford ripped a board and put in a sky hook off the backboard, Austin Shoemaker drilled a deep three, Alec Calloway followed in a shot, Miller was his pesky put back self, Lance Ibesate and Tony Yadao played their flawless drive and take the foul game and Evan Gross battled inside.

The upset minded Falcons relied on Seymour from the field and senior Camden Thomas and junior Travis Johnson on the boards inside to keep the game notched at the half 22-22.

JDHS senior Ryan Kelly and junior Phillip Fenumiai gave the Crimson Bears a spark in the third period and took a 35-27 advantage into the fourth period. JDHS outscored the Falcons 12-8 starting the final stanza and after a TMHS timeout the Crimson Bears scored the games final five points.

Yadao and Fenumiai led the JDHS with 10 points apiece, Ibesate added eight, Shoemaker seven, Kelly and Miller four apiece, Gross three, and Darien Stanger, Calloway and Swofford two each.

Seymour led the Falcons with a game-high 11 points, Ainsworth eight, Sam Jahn and Vili Tupou five apiece, and Grussendorf and Josh Tupou three apiece.

JDHS hit 11-14 at the charity stripe, TMHS went 4-14.

The Falcons nearly got revenge on their own senior recognition Saturday at the Thunderdome.

Trailing 22-15 at the half the Falcons stormed back to drop a tightly contested 50-44 game to the Crimson Bears.

Final stats were not available by press time.

The Falcons’ girls fell on their senior night 66-30.

Trailing 10-9 starting the second period Kibby hit a shot to give the Falcons their first lead of the game and Tingley followed with a three pointer. The Crimson Bears regained the lead on baskets by Fenumiai, Kelly and Siddeek and never relinquished the lead again, taking a 34-23 advantage at the half.

“This was the best game we played all season,” JDHS coach Dee Boster said. “Everybody contributed in many ways. One of our goals was to make Jonelle (Staveland) work to get her shots, which we did very well. She is a good shooter. Kymberlee (Kelly) really stepped up tonight and played like a veteran.”

The Crimson Bears went on a 19-2 run to open the third period and the Falcons watched defensive standouts Reeves and Young foul out in the fourth quarter.

Siddeek led all scorers with 18 points, Fenumiai added 14 for JDHS, Kelly eight, Balovich seven, Gross five, Tagaban and Brakes four, Fogg, Roldan, and Fitka two each.

Staveland led the Falcons with 13 points, Kibby added six, Reeves four, Morris, Tingley and Young two each, and Demmert one.

JDHS hit 9-23 at the charity stripe, TMHS went 1-6.