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Thursday December 15, 2011
Crimson Bears tradition, Falcons exuberance - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     The Thunder Mountain High School basketball programs went 0-8 last season against their cross-town rivals from Juneau-Douglas, but their opponent’s graduations and their own maturity seem to play into evening out the competition level this season.

The Juneau-Douglas High School teams are not overlooking their up and coming neighbors, but are buying into two new coaches with old philosophies of basketball wisdom.

The Falcons will host both the girls and boys teams on Friday and the Crimson Bears will return the favor on Saturday.

“Fans will see a brand new squad in a way,” Falcons head coach Tanya Nizich said. “The same faces but, overall, everybody has really come together over the last few years and fans will see some really hard workers out there and a competitive game.”

The TMHS girls graduated Janie White and lost Mellissa Fisher to Mt. Edgecumbe, but return an entire roster of competitors.

Shale Kibby, Kinsey Marshall, Makayla Pierce, Ashley Young, Jonelle Staveland and Ashley Young have the height needed to compete with a traditionally physical JDHS roster. Staveland can also move to the wing, where she led the team in three-pointers last season.

“We have been working hard and running a lot so hopefully we won’t get too tired our first set of games,” “I think this first set of games are very important. They set the stage as how we have been practicing and if we need to make any changes. It gives us a preview on what needs to be done for the rest of the season. Hopefully we have covered all our bases and we can make a strong opening weekend.”

Eyerus Tingley, Shayla Reeves, Kylie Ibias, Michaela Demmert and Sarah Morris will be perimeter threats.

“As a ball club I definitely notice that everybody seems a little bit more mature in the sense that we are a little bit more court smart,” Nizich said. “Most of the girls have been together since freshmen and we finally have the chemistry down, we know where we are on the court.”

The JDHS girls graduated a talented arsenal that included Hannah Swofford, Taylor Larson, Maria Weyhrauch, Sara Tarver, Nani Ostrom, Olivia Henderson and Karli Brakes. Coach Leslie Knight stepped down, but in her footprints is a disciple that came into the JD system in 2003.

“I think our strength is our speed,” JDHS girl’s head coach Dee Boster said. “Hopefully that will make up for our loss of size in the key. We will have to work harder on rebounding and blocking out inside.”

The Crimson Bears return Esra Sideek, Marissa Brakes, Nicole George and Kaitlin Fagerstrom, players who all found time last year; and Ari Gross, Gabi Fenumiai and Kayla Balovich are expected to fill the front line.

“Marissa will be our leader, on and off the court,” Boster said. “I don’t expect her sister, I expect Marissa. She makes very good decisions on the court.”

Fagerstrom is a raw sophomore who only lacks confidence; all the other skills are in the Crimson Bears’ uniform.

Sideek will be the first option on offense, and the first person the defense keys on, so Fagerstrom, Gross, Fenumiai, lightning guard T Jae Garcia and senior Sierra Tagaban will be vital.

Replacing the speed, off-guard, and forward components will also come from Tori Gogg, Kymberlee Kelly, Rachelle Roldan, Amberli Fitka and Rolonda Scaife.

“We don’t want to change the program,” Boster said. “It has been successful for a long time. We are a really young team. I am a little nervous, a little excited. There are big shoes to fill, the expectations of keeping that success alive.”

Boster said she expects her kids to wear the Crimson Bears uniform with pride.

“The girls work hard in practice and are excited to be here,” Boster said. “Their expectations, and ours, are high.” The Falcons’ boy’s graduation of John Correa, Josh Jones and Jimmy Mota will not affect their athleticism on the court of nine returning players.

“The first series for us is going to be much like Juneau’s first game last weekend,” TMHS head coach John Blasco said. “It will probably be a little sloppy at first until we settle down from the adrenalin of the first game and of playing our cross-town conference rival. We have had three good weeks of practice and I am excited to see how we perform in these games and how we react to facing a very tough opponent.”

Third year players Ty Grussendorf as a shooting wing with range and Sam Jahn in the pivot are impact players. Junior Keith Ainsworth, a varsity player since his freshman year, is the team leader. Travis Johnson is a hustler on the court and the Tupou brothers, Josh and Vili, are a competitive point guard combo.

Throw in Matt Seymour and Ben Jahn, who saw significant minutes as freshmen, and Avery Stewart and Coltin Lanz who know the program, plus football quarterback Camden Thomas with athletic leadership qualities, and the Falcons will hunt bear. Mike Uddipa will see back up point guard duties and Allen Shaw is a defensive workhorse off the bench.

“We got to see them play against Ketchikan and we know that they have a lot of strong players,” Blasco said. “We know we will have our hands full Friday. We haven’t beaten them yet but that is definitely on our minds. They have a strong senior class and size in side. They will be tough. I think fans will see, as they have the past two years, our group of young guys that are not going to quit until the buzzer goes off. We will play hard every possession and play an up-tempo kind of game. They are an exciting group for sure.”

The Crimson Bears’ boys graduated Ryan Baldwin, Nino Crisostomo, Travis Godfrey, Colin Gozelski, Eddie Hurtte, and De’Andre King but seem hardly affected. They too lost a retiring legend in Steve Potter, but JDHS filled the hole with a 12-year assistant.

“I think it is going to be a fun season,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said. “It will be a little bit more of a traditional look, a little more high school size and a rededication to doing the work.”

Lance Ibesate and Tony Yadao are two of the state’s top guards and have quality postman Evan Gross to work around, plus big men bench play from Jeffrey Pusich, Taylor Swofford, Bruce Jones and Gary Speck.

“We are very excited,” Ibesate said. “New coach, new system, it’s going to be fun. I am just going to try and be tough this year, be pesky and in people’s grills playing good defense. I just want us to learn from every game.”

Added Yadao, “We are looking to have good chemistry this year. As seniors we have to lead by example and bring our strengths to help make the team do better.”

Alec Calloway and Darien Stanger were starters at Ketchikan last weekend but Ryan Kelly, Jesse Miller, Austin Shoemaker and Aquino Brinson found time on the court. Calloway can go inside or outside and, being left handed, makes it hard on defenders. Phillip Fenumiai is still involved in all-star football practices each weekend in Anchorage, but when he joins the team he will be a starter at basically any position. Jackson Lehnhart is recovering from an ankle injury.

“A lot of guys did more off-season work than before,” Casperson said. “We talk about what it means to be a Crimson Bear and the responsibility that comes with it. When we passed out the uniforms you could see that light in their eyes, they are excited.”

Sunday December 11, 2011
Crimson Bears devour Ketchikan's Kings by Klas Stolpe and Richard Larson
     JDHS sweeps season opening hoops series 69-55 and 75-60

Trailing by one point entering the fourth quarter of the first game in the 2011-12 season on Friday night, the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team needed to make a statement that they were still going to be the class of the southeastern conference.

A barrage of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter triggered a 20-4 Crimson Bears run that turned a tense game into a big 69-55 win over Ketchikan on Friday at the Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.

“Definitely it was great to hit some shots,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said. “But we put some pressure on their defense that created those shots with dribble penetration. Lance (Ibesate) was able to get into the paint quite a bit.”

With the score tied 43-43 early in the fourth, Ibesate penetrated multiple times and was either fouled, made a layup or kicked out to teammates for open jump shots.

JDHS’ Austin Shoemaker, playing in his first varsity game, drained an open look from outside to start the run. Ibesate added his own triple, and Tony Yadao drained two more clean looks from outside to finish off the scoring streak by the Crimson Bears senior guards. Juneau scored 20 points in four minutes to break the game open.

“We started to get guys open. We started taking higher percentage shots,” Yadao said. “We worked the ball around more and were getting open.”

Ketchikan coach Eric Stockhausen said the focus of the Kings was to stop penetration and then close out on the outside shooters.

JDHS coach Robert Casperson stated point guard Ibesate was instrumental in the comeback and the attitude of the Crimson Bears was always up beat.

“Our guys are buying in to playing the type of basketball that the community will enjoy watching,” Casperson said. “We had instances where guys were taking charges.

Six-foot-seven, 220 pound Evan Gross keyed the momentum swing late in the third quarter by taking a charge in the lane.

“All four of his teammates ran over to pick him up,” Casperson said. “All four. It was awesome. The game was still tough and back and forth at the time.”

Casperson also mentioned the Crimson Bears’ unselfishness, especially on the receiving end of assists.

“We have been working a lot in practice on thanking the passer,” Casperson said. “And the screener. When Tony buried that three in the fourth quarter on a kick out from Lance you could here him yelling and complimenting Lance for that pass. That is stuff that is important if we are going to continue to build and do the things we want to do this year. To see that in the first game is encouraging.”

Continued Casperson, “Ketchikan is a tough place to play. It certainly is a big win. It’s the opener, but I don’t want to downplay it too much, because these are conference games.”

Added Yadao, “Most of us have been playing together since fifth grade and I think that will help us a lot this year.”

Despite numerous turnovers, foul trouble, and horrendous shooting from the foul line, the Kings kept battling back from deficits in the first three quarters. The Kings took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter on Fred Seludo’s 3-point basket, but then were overwhelmed by Juneau’s outside shooting in the fourth.

Juneau-Douglas had four players in double figures, led by Ibesate, who scored 20 points. Yadao added 16, Alex Calloway 13, and Shoemaker 11. Gross added four points, Jeffrey Pusich and Gary Speck two each, and Darien Stanger one.

Kyle Day led the Kings with 18 points, sparking several key runs in the first three quarters with strong drives to the basket. Day’s outside shooting wasn’t falling, however, and like most of his teammates, he struggled from the free-throw line. Ketchikan guard Mark Dulay tallied 13 points.

Juneau hit just 19 of 30 at the charity stripe, while Ketchikan was a dismal 7-19.

Despite six turnovers and seven fouls in the first four minutes of the game, Kayhi held a 7-4 lead before Juneau went on an 11-3 run to end the quarter. Yadao scored six points in less than a minute to key the run.

Ketchikan battled back to jump in front 18-17 in the second quarter on a layup by Auger, but again Juneau responded with an 8-2 run to go up by five. The Crimson Bears held a 28-23 advantage at the break.

The Crimson Bears looked like they might pull away early in the third quarter, claiming a 35-28 advantage after a three-point play by Shoemaker, but once again Ketchikan responded. The Kings finished the quarter on an 11-3 run, taking a 39-38 lead on a 3-pointer by Fred Seludo after a flawlessly executed offensive series.

“It’s a Stockhausen-coached team,” Casperson said. “You know they are going to come back on you, that they are never going to give up. That’s how he coaches them.”

The game was tied 43-43 with 6:14 left to play after Day hit a floater on a good drive down the lane, but Juneau-Douglas took over from there.

“I would imagine after the first-game nerves are out of the way, the teams will settle in a little more and it will be a little cleaner brand of basketball,” Casperson said.

Bruce Jones led the JDHS JV with 13 points in a tough 71-49 loss to Ketchikan JV on Friday and Adam Empson added 12. The Ketchikan junior varsity used a 13-1 run at the end of the second quarter to take a 38-25 halftime lead, then pushed the advantage to as much as 25 points in the second half. Empson also scored 13 points as the JDHS C team lost to the Ketchikan C 51-49.

“It is still pretty early in the season,” Casperson said. “We are still figuring things out. And when I say ‘we’ that is myself included in terms of rotation and which groups and combinations play best together. We were able to put runs together and Ketchikan responded right back with their own. In order to create separation on someone we have to have consistency defensively during those runs. I think more so down the stretch we were making the shots and getting the stops.”

On Saturday the Crimson Bears took Casperson to heart and made all the right defensive choices, taking a lead in the first quarter and stretching it into a 75-60 win. Juneau-Douglas took control with a 13-0 first quarter run, then kept the Kings at bay the rest of the game. The Kings led 8-6 early, but then Juneau-Douglas went on a 13-0 run to take command. Juneau-Douglas led 28-14 at the end of the first quarter and Kayhi never got closer than seven points the rest of the night.

Juneau-Douglas seniors guards Lance Ibesate, Tony Yadao and Austin Shoemaker combined for 40 points, and senior forward Alex Calloway added 11 points, as the experienced Crimson Bears had the upper hand in both games. Juneau-Douglas used a 20-4 fourth-quarter run to win 69-55 on Friday.

Ibesate lead JDHS with 21 points, Yadao had 13, Alec Calloway 11 and Gary Speck eight.

“He did everything he needed to do to help us win tonight,” Casperson said of Ibesate. “As a team, the things we have worked on in practice are being executed on the court...and the things we haven’t worked on we handled very well.”

Kayhi played Juneau-Douglas relatively evenly after the first quarter, but it wasn’t enough for the Kings to seriously climb back into the game. The Kings scored the first five points of the second half, and had a chance to cut the lead to four points, but a 3-point attempt from Day went in-and-out. Following the 3-point miss, the Crimson Bears went on a 12-2 run to push a 48-41 lead up to 60-43.

The Kings never gave up, and the crowd cheered them on each time they got the score under 10 points, but the veteran Crimson Bears didn’t allow Kayhi to put together any long rallies.

“They’ve got two all-state guards that have started for three years for them, and it showed,” Stockhausen said. “Besides Kyle, all of our guards just got done playing their second varsity game.”

Ibesate and Yadao have had starting roles or major playing minutes since they were sophomores.

“A lot will start with our guards,” Casperson said. “Lance and Tony have a considerable amount of basketball knowledge. They know how to control situations.Once we got that early lead it was important to keep it. We know what the Ketchikan guys can do. They keep coming at you, they are not going to quit.”

Juneau-Douglas hit three 3-point baskets in its first-quarter explosion, but also did a better job of rebounding the ball and scoring on offensive putbacks. Yadao drained a 3-point basket from the right corner 40 seconds into the game, a sign of what was to come from the Crimson Bears.

“We definitely made a few more shots today than we did yesterday,” Casperson said. “But so did Ketchikan. It was a cleaner game, which I was expecting, but that spurt we had in the beginning I wasn’t really expecting.”

In the first quarter, it looked like the Kings might get run out of their own gym. Kayhi regained its composure, but showed it still has some growing to do to get to where Juneau-Douglas is right now.

Shoemaker scored only six points for the Crimson Bears, but is an explosive presence off the bench for a JDHS team with three quick, talented guards and a deep rotation of solid big men.

“We are definitely blessed to have the quickness at guard that we do,” Casperson said. “Then we have a guy like Austin coming off the bench. He is a very dynamic player as a sixth man. He wants to lead the team in rebounding and I think he did that tonight. Alec also rebounded very well. I can see that rebounding and the players coming off the bench are going to be key for us this season.”

“We’ve got three strong teams in Southeast. Thunder Mountain is going to be tough, too,” Ibesate said. “I think the (Southeast) teams will surprise some people this year.”

Friday December 09, 2011
Scouting - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Coach Robert Casperson says the JDHS boys, who play in Ketchikan tonight and Saturday, played the Kings 7 times last year for an overall record of 5-2. The Crimson Bears beat them at the Dimond Prep Shootout (1-0); Twice at home for conference wins (3-0, 2-0 conf); Lost to them two times down in KTN (3-2, 2-2 conf).

JDHS got the #1 seed going into the Region V Tournament on a coin flip or blind draw from a hat or something after multiple tie-breakers were employed.

JDHS was then 2-0 against them in the Reg. V Tournament (5-2 overall).

Our JV’s were 4-0 against Ktn. last year and a lot of those players have moved into varsity roles for both teams.

Thursday December 08, 2011
H.S. Hoops - Juneau Empire by Klas Stolpe
     Nothing struck such excitement, and fear, in my youth along the panhandle in Alaska as the opening of the high school basketball season.

As elementary age lads carrying physical education class red rubber balls larger than our torsos we were drawn to the extreme squeaks and squeals of old converse high tops on freshly polished floors, the sound of which would escape out through cracked gymnasium doors and windows as the high school boys practiced.

In middle school we wrapped double scarves around our necks and walked through snow drifts to one of the only outside courts, shoveled it off, and played until our toes felt like thumbs; and then crammed along the side lines of the high school gym to watch our local Vikings team against a variety of behemoths and wizards and shape-shifters that left our mouths agape.

When it was finally our turn, when the first whiskers of adolescence and pimply maturity was upon us, we knew what had to be done and why.

We had to practice; at all times, at all hours, and in all weather. Why? Because in my day… well basketballs were still round, but the league was all one smorgasbord of hoops. Small schools played large schools, and more often than naught, the competitions were even and fierce and came down to the final minutes.

And the largest school was Juneau.

With Juneau, we knew what would come. We saw it when we traveled as ‘middlers’ to Floyd Dryden and Dzantik’I Heeni.

We knew the Crimson Bears would be physical inside and fast outside, that they would have a man inside your uniform on defense as soon as the referee put the ball into the center jump circle.

That center jump begins again on Friday in Ketchikan. If you could see me now you would notice the horned Vikings helmet is pushed forward on my head, my converse are double knotted, and my inseams have been let out a notch or two over the years.

But the excitement and fear is still there.

The Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain teams are part of a new fangled triangle of schools seeking an automatic bid to the state basketball tournament in Anchorage. To do that they have to win the region tournament or amass the newly implemented Alaska Scholastic Activities Association’s WPI schedule.

The WPI, or Winning Percentage Index, is decided by a team’s win-loss record against 4A teams and their opponent’s win-loss record. If you balance your checkbook as bad as I do, this is roughly what can happen:

Beating a team with a bad record can hurt your ranking; Losing to a team with a good record leaves you safe on the surface; and beating a team with a good record helps you move to the top of the heap.

Now, the champions of the Southeast, and the Mid Alaska, and the top two teams in the Cook Inlet and Northern Lights automatically qualify for state. The remaining two berths, which had previously gone to third place teams in the CI and NL, are awarded to the two teams with the top WPI’s that don’t automatically qualify.

The Crimson Bears have been snatching regional titles left and right, boys and girls, since James Naismith dreamed up this kooky game in 1891 (FYI, he was Canadien and is also credited with inventing the first football helmet).

The Falcons are just on the verge of making a point as to where the round ball rolls best.

JDHS travels to West Anchorage, Service, Wasilla and Palmer; and hosts Chugiak, Kodiak and Mt. Edgecumbe. Don’t giggle, the MTE Braves pulled a number on “us” during the regional championships crossover game last season, remember? The Braves are considered a power. They may not factor into the WPI but they still pack some OMG.

The Falcons travel to Anchorage Christian and Kodiak and host Palmer, West Valley and West. Yes, ACS is a 3A school (but refer to OMG above).

The JDHS boys are the team that I feared growing up. Tony Yadao and Lance Ibesate will be in your shorts 24-7. A week from any game you play against the Crimson Bears it will still feel like 10 games. Yadao can shoot as well, and at 5-foot-11 he can post if needed on smaller guards. And here is just a giggle: they could start 6-foot-9 Taylor Swofford, 6-foot-7 Evan Gross (both over 230 pounds),6-foot-5 Bruce Jones, 6-foot-4 Alec Calloway, and 6-foot-3 Phillip Fenumiai. And have four more 6-foot-somethings ready and waiting. By the way, Jones is a freshman. It has been a while sine a freshman has made the adjustment to varsity ball.

New head coach Robert Casperson has brother Kevin, Steve Houlihan, Greg Huebschen and Akeem Micheli to assist.

Oh, and did I say fast? Like in your shorts? Just wanted to make sure you were listening Thunder Mountain.

The Falcons meanwhile, are no slouches. Think football, minus the helmet and pads and there you go. Coach John Blasco has Camden Thomas, Josh and Vili Tupou, and Sam and Ben Jahn looking pretty darn smooth off the grass and on the hard wood. Keith Ainsworth, Ty Grussendorf and Matt Seymour are three of the streakiest shooters on the planet and will present an interesting matchup in southeast.

The girls are another matter. JDHS graduated what should have been the second straight state championship team. Their final game at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena last year was just a total miscue. It happens.

This season new coach Dee Boster features Nicole George and Sierra Tagaban as the only graduates to be, and George brings the competiveness of lots of time spent watching what to do right. Junior Esra Siddeek is possibly one of the top shooters in the state and classmate Marissa Brakes brings breakneck speed and leadership. Surprises loom as the season progresses and two to keep an eye on are rapidly improving sophomore post Ari Gross and lighting quick T Jae Garcia.

The Falcons’ girls are also young, but heavy on experience. Shale Kibby and Kinsey Marshall are the lone seniors; Jonelle Staveland, Eyerus Tingley, Shayla Reeves and Kylie Ibias are juniors with plenty of game time; Michaela Demmert and Makayla Pierce are impact players; and Ashley Young and Sarah Morris are freshman that have made the cut. Coaches Tanya Nizich, Arnold Ibias and Danielle Larson are at the helm.

The JDHS boys are in Ketchikan this weekend. On Dec. 16 the Falcons host the Crimson Bears in a double header boys and girls games, then travel down Glacier Highway to the JD gym on Dec. 17. If you can’t wait until then, check out the middle school madness beginning today at Floyd Dryden and Dzantik’i Heeni; or check out the junior varsity and ‘c’ team games at JD beginning tommorrow.

Don’t forget your calculators though. There is something to find exciting about each of our four teams. It may be size, speed, hustle, ball control, or just the colors blue and silver and red and black.

What matters is when the color maroon comes to town. Then I can wear my black/blue/silver/red armbands high enough to cover my old PHS Vikings tattoo…and I can start to figure out the WPI index, because only one of my two teams gets the automatic bid.

Monday December 05, 2011
Holiday Happiness...
     Get into the swing of things and do your holiday shopping on line with the Crimson Bears. Be sure to click on the "Gear Up for Game Day" image to buy that special someone all the latest and greatest team apparel.

It doesn't matter what sport they like, each item and design is almost 100% customizable. Pick the style, color, logo, and team of your desire. Then wear you Crimson cool to the gym for home games with pride!

Sunday December 04, 2011
Varsity Team Selected
     As the Crimson Bears prepare for an early season match-up against conference foes in Ketchikan December 9th and 10th, you can see the group of young men that will represent Juneau's Red and Black this year.

Click on the link in the drop-down menu above to see a list of this season's varsity team members. Junior varsity will follow, as will team photos...

Monday November 28, 2011
Alaska High School Basketball Has Officially Begun
     Check back often to view news and other information on the 2011-2012 Crimson Bears, such as rosters and photos of this season's varsity, JV, and C teams.

Friday October 21, 2011
New Fast Break Club Membership Drive... Join the Team!
     It’s time to become a member (or renew your membership) in the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears Fast Break Club. The club’s purpose is to give financial support to the Bears boy’s basketball teams while helping other Bears activity groups.

This year the FBC has three membership levels.

White: $50.00 includes 1 FBC Crimson Bears window decal.

Black: $75.00 includes 1 FBC Crimson Bears window decal & 1 FBC apparel item of your choice.

Crimson: $125.00 includes 2 FBC Crimson Bears window decals & 2 FBC apparel items of your choice.

In addition, each paying member will receive his/her name on the Fast Break Club banner located above the basketball office in the main gym and on the FBC link on the team’s website showing your personal support to the program. Names will be posted two times during the season. Payments received by December 10, 2011 will be posted before the first home game against TMHS on Saturday, December 17th. Payments received after December 10, 2011, but before January 13, 2012 will be posted before the January 20th games. Any membership payments received after January 13, 2012 will be posted as time allows.

Remember, your paid membership provides opportunity to our youth in many ways and is also tax deductible!

Click on the "Fastbreak" link in the above drop-down menus for the new registration form.

Thank you for your membership to the Fast Break Club. Your support is very important and very much appreciated. We look forward to seeing you around town and at our home games.

Please visit Facebook and look for Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears Boys Basketball to keep up with the team!

Monday October 17, 2011
Holy Cow, the Bears are on FACEBOOK!
     That's right, we've gone "high-tech" and joined the 2000's with our very own Facebook page. Please visit Facebook and look for Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears Boys Basketball to keep up with the team!

Tuesday September 27, 2011
New Schedule Released
     Catch all the action with your 2011-2012 Crimson Bears this season. You won't want to miss a single minute of game time as the team takes on regional and statewide opponents under first year head coach Robert Casperson. With a strong group of varsity candidates working hard in the off season, this year should be an exciting one to watch.

Click on the "Printer Friendly" version to get your copy and mark your calendars so you can show your support at all the home games.

See you at the gym!

Wednesday September 21, 2011
JDHS announces the appointment of Robert Casperson to the head coach position of the Crimson Bears Boys Basketball team
     For Immediate Release 9/21/11:

It may seem as though Robert Casperson was destined to become the head coach of the Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears Boys Basketball team, but look a little closer and it is easy to see that it was hard work and dedication that got him here.

Born and raised in Juneau, Casperson follows a strong family tradition on to the JDHS basketball court. His parents, JDHS graduates, both spent their fair share of time in the gym. His father, Bruce, played high school basketball for Juneau in the 50’s and mother, Christine, was a cheerleader for JDHS. Bruce even spent time coaching Junior Varsity basketball and teaching history at JDHS.

The youngest of five children, Casperson grew up watching his older brothers play and coach the sport of basketball. His oldest brother, Kevin, was the Crimson Bears Boys Basketball Junior Varsity coach for 12 years.

“As someone that was born and raised in the capital city, I am honored and humbled to be chosen as the new head coach for the boy’s basketball team at Juneau-Douglas High School,” says Casperson, “I could not have reached this point without the support of my family, friends, and the community, and for that I am very thankful.”

The family ties come full circle - one of the players on Bruce’s JV team in the 60’s was George Houston, who then became Robert’s high school coach. When Robert got into coaching at JDHS (under Coach Houston), he had another well-known basketball name on his team – Thunder Mountain Head Basketball Coach John Blasco.

While playing under Coach Houston, Casperson and the Bears were 93-15, including a since unmatched 25-2 season his senior year. He graduated from JDHS in 1996, a three-year letterman in basketball and two-year varsity letterman in baseball.

Robert Casperson began working with the JDHS basketball program in 1999, and took over the freshman team in 2000, amassing 85-12 win-loss record. He has led the JDHS JV team since 2006-2007, and has a cumulative record of 92-20. During that same tenure, Coach Casperson had been the head Boys Basketball Coach at Floyd Dryden Middle School until 2009, and worked with the local Hooptime organization in an advisory role during its formative years.

Coach Casperson is proud to be a part of the program that he grew up with and enjoys the opportunity to give back to his community. “Throughout the years, Juneau basketball has established a long history of young men focused on dedication, discipline, and teamwork. It is my intent to build upon these pillars of success. I look forward to the continued support of the community as we work together to maintain a program that Juneau will be proud of on, and off the court,” he says.

Casperson takes over from Coach Steve Potter who spent 18 years with the JDHS basketball program – five of those as head coach. Potter enjoyed a 91-45 record and led his team to five consecutive Region V 4A Tournament Championships.

Coach Casperson is a Member of the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches. He earned his Associates in Arts and Sciences at Shoreline Community College, and Bachelor of Liberal Arts Degree with an emphasis in Social Science from the University of Alaska Southeast. He also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of Alaska Southeast. He is a 6th grade Language Arts/Social Studies teacher Floyd Dryden Middle School. Casperson is married and has two children.

Sunday September 18, 2011
JDHS Boys Basketball Gives Back
     Varsity candidates recently participated in the Juneau Parks & Recreation 2nd annual Day of Play. 12 student-athletes donned the Crimson and Black and played basketball with community youth. This free, community based event was well received by the city of Juneau and the session that the Bears participated in was well attended by children of all ages.

Thursday March 17, 2011
JDHS faces tough task in Round 1 - Juneau Empire by Shaun T. Cox
     The Juneau-Douglas boys’ basketball team tips off in its sixth straight state tournament appearance Thursday, but the Crimson Bears haven’t exactly had the best of luck in recent years.

Since 2006, JDHS has lost five straight opening-round games, with four losses coming by an average of just 3.5 points, one in overtime. Wasilla rolled to a 69-46 win in the first round last year and edged the Crimson Bears for the No. 3 tournament seed this season, even though JDHS swept the Warriors in a weekend series Feb. 4-5.

Joining fourth-seeded Juneau-Douglas, who plays No. 5 North Pole on Thursday at 11:30 a.m., on the top half of the bracket in the 2011 ASAA/First National Bank Alaska State High School Basketball Championships is No. 1 Bartlett against No. 8 Kodiak.

No. 2 West faces No. 7 Palmer and No. 3 Service takes on the aforementioned Warriors in the bottom of the bracket.

“I think that it’s pretty much wide open,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said of the tournament draw. “As long as we weren’t coming in as the seven or eight seed, then we’ve got to be pretty happy with what we got.”

North Pole boasts All-State first-teamer Jesse Ward at forward, second-team guard Eli Sponseller and forward Kody Broderick, an All-State Honorable Mention, as its top players.

Potter said the Patriots aren’t very deep, but Ward, who puts up 17.7 points per game, is a southpaw stud at 6-foot-6 who can run the floor and shoot from the perimeter.

“They have some big guys that are pretty talented, but they don’t play a lot of guys. It’s going to be important for us to be sound defensively, first and foremost,” he said. “Jesse Ward ... is a 6-6 left-handed kid and he’s a shooter — not just big, but he shoots it, too.

“We’ll probably start with Colin (Gozelski) on him because he can go out on the floor and guard guys,” he continued. “We’ve seen him before because he’s been starting for them since he was a sophomore, but he’s still good. Just because we’ve seen him before doesn’t mean it’s any easier.”

The 6-foot Sponseller, who averages 8.1 points and 4.2 assists, is the Patriots’ big threat out of the backcourt.

“The word that we’ve gotten is he’s pretty good if you let him go right, so we’ll try to limit that,” Potter said of defending Sponseller. “They have some other guards that aren’t renowned for their ball handling abilities, so hopefully we can put some pressure on them.”

Broderick, a 6-foot-6, 190-pound post who averages 11 points and eight boards, controls the lane for the Patriots and is a good rebounder, Potter said.

“He’s a double-figure rebound guy (most nights) and it’s important to stop him,” he said. “We certainly have the size to (control the glass). It will be different for us after playing so many games against Ketchikan and Thunder Mountain. It’s the opposite end of the spectrum — they’re small and North Pole is not small.”

The Patriots beat the visiting Crimson Bears 54-46 last season.

“We play them once every three years or so,” Potter said. “The times that we’ve played them in the past (their style of play) was trapping and pressing, change defense every possession and try to confuse you. I think this year they’ve backed off that and they sag like Ketchikan and Thunder Mountain were doing this year. The difference is they’re sagging with bigger guys on the inside.

“Hopefully we can get some stuff in transition, but we’ve just got to make sure we’re patient on the offensive end. We’ve got to make them work,” he continued. “As long as we’re moving well, making hard cuts and doing our best to keep them off the boards, then we’ll be alright.”

The Crimson Bears will face either Kodiak or Bartlett in the second round, and JDHS has already put a 75-54 thumping on Kodiak this season.

“We played Kodiak at their tournament this year and beat them by around 20,” he said. “They tried to up-tempo everything. The first time you could see the basket was a good shot. And they had some kids that could shoot the ball, but the game they won to get in the (state) tournament, they won 32-30, so apparently they’ve altered that style a little bit.”

JDHS has not played Bartlett this season.

“They’re super athletic, they play a lot of guys and are definitely up-tempo,” Potter said of Bartlett. “It would be exciting for us to get the opportunity to go up against those guys.”

Wednesday March 16, 2011
Hurtte takes leadership role - Juneau Empire by Matthew Tynan
     The roles of individual players on a basketball team are ever-evolving entities, especially when you consider how fleeting a student-athlete’s varsity career can be.

Players come, players go. Others unexpectedly grow into contributors and leaders, as is the case for Juneau-Douglas guard Eddie Hurtte.

The final buzzer had just sounded as the Crimson Bears capped a two-game sweep of then-No. 4 Wasilla, and the JDHS senior guard was celebrating his 18th birthday the best way a player could — with a win — but the night would only get better.

Hurtte was elevated to captain by his teammates immediately following the game, validating a year of hard work he had dedicated himself to after not playing much on last year’s Southeast Conference championship team.

“That was a good birthday for me,” Hurtte said with a smile spreading across his face.

Last year’s squad had a logjam in the backcourt with Victor Wilson and Alex DeRocher, now college freshmen, playing a lot of minutes with up-and-coming guards Lance Ibesate and Tony Yadao.

Hurtte said he knew he’d have a shot his senior year.

“I guess in the offseason I noticed there would be some playing time left, so I knew I needed to step up,” he said. “It feels good to actually be helping out the team, to contribute.

“Going from last year where I’d play scarce minutes to being in there, knowing you can have a big game and affect how the team does, that’s a motivator.”

And Hurtte has contributed significantly as one of coach Steve Potter’s first players off the bench. Now his team has recorded its sixth consecutive state tournament bid and will face North Pole on Thursday in the first round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska 2011 State Basketball Championships at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena.

Hurtte said it’s nice to see the process come full circle after playing such a limited role last season.

“It definitely showed if you’re willing to work hard, you’ll be rewarded,” he said. “Hard work really does pay off if you come together and work as a team.”

As for what that moment felt like when his status was elevated to that of team captain, Hurtte said it felt good knowing his teammates supported him in that role.

“It was something the team wanted. They wanted another person to represent the team as a captain,” he said. “I guess they thought I fit that role, so I took it.”

Potter said Hurtte being named a team captain in the middle of the season was certainly out of the ordinary in comparison to his previous years as coach.

“In the past we’ve had the guys pick captains before the season, and we were missing guys at the beginning of the year and I didn’t think we’d be doing it that way,” he said. “As the year progressed, Eddie was certainly giving us a lift. Actually, it was Ryan (Baldwin) who brought it up and the guys all supported it.”

Potter also said Hurtte epitomizes perseverance in high school hoops. He said it didn’t always go well for his senior guard.

“Eddie struggled last year. It was difficult for him,” Potter said. “But if you put your work in you’ll get your opportunity, and Eddie is a classic example of that.”

Next on the captain’s agenda: help prepare his teammates for what lies ahead. But despite the fact they won the conference tournament once again, the Crimson Bears walked off their court for the final time with a bitter taste in their mouths.

After defeating Ketchikan to win the 4A boys’ bracket of the 2011 Region V 3A/4A Basketball Tournament, the Bears were upended by a determined Mt. Edgecumbe team in the 3A-4A crossover game on Saturday night.

A last-second attempt to tie by Colin Gozelski fell short as Juneau-Douglas lost a 44-42 slugfest for its only home loss of the season.

Hurtte said neither he nor his teammates will forget that night.

“It fired us up. That was a big loss, our only loss on our home court,” he said. “I was ticked off. I knew we could have won the game. I definitely felt disappointed but, once again, I definitely think this game fired us up for what we need to do at state.”

Despite the loss, Hurtte said the team played hard that night against a team JDHS had already split two games with during the season. But the Bears have to eliminate mistakes in tight games such as these, he said.

If the Bears are to have a shot at winning the state title, they’ll have to be on top of their game both mentally and physically.

“It showed when we want to play, we can play hard. But if we zone out we can play really bad,” he said. “It’s up to us how well we do in the state tournament.”

Hurtte said the team is confident, not only in its chances to beat North Pole on Thursday, but to win the whole thing. Still, he and his teammates know it will take a lot of preparation and a little luck to accomplish their ultimate goal.

“North Pole is tough and coach has been really focusing our practices on how they play and how we need to come out against them,” Hurtte said. “We’ve been working on communication because when we play poorly, it’s because of a lack of communication.

“That doesn’t bring a unity to the team,” he continued. “When we do talk, we play a lot better.”

Juneau-Douglas’ strength going into the season was its interior size, and it’s remained that way throughout the year. But the Bears will be tested come Thursday morning against the Patriots, a team that boasts a big front line as well. Potter said North Pole will run a sagging zone defensively, hoping to crowd the Bears’ bigs and force the guards to make shots.

He said that style is similar to what Ketchikan and Thunder Mountain like to do against the Juneau-Douglas offense, but the Patriots are much bigger in the paint.

Hurtte said the team has been going full-bore in practice.

“We’ve been practicing with high intensity and playing the best we can so we are focused and prepared for state,” he said. “It just depends on whether this team is ready to get to work.

“I definitely think we can go all the way if we play to our potential. When we play as hard as we can we’re a very good team, but if we zone out it’ll be like the Mt. Edgecumbe game,” he continued. “It all comes down to how we want to play, and it’s a big week ahead of us.

Friday March 11, 2011
Alaska Newspapers/Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches All-State teams announced
     Juneau-Douglas junior point guard Lance Ibesate was named Third Team All-State on the boys’ side, with backcourt running mate Tony Yadao selected as All-State Honorable Mention.

“I certainly think both Lance and Tony had really good years and are deserving of their spots,” JDHS boys’ coach Steve Potter said.

Ketchikan’s Chas Allen was named Second Team All-State.

“That’s nice that guys from Southeast were recognized,” Potter said. “Some years, nobody from Southeast gets on but maybe one honorable mention. It doesn’t always feel like we get the recognition, and there were other guys that if they were playing in Anchorage where they’d be seen more often, might have gotten some looks. Hopefully, they’ll keep playing well.”

The second-seeded Juneau-Douglas girls begin defense of their state title at 8 a.m. Thursday against No. 7 South. The No. 4 boys face No. 5 North Pole at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Anchorage’s Sullivan Center.

All-State Teams Class 4A Boys:

Player of the Year: Devon Bookert, West

Coach of the Year: Tyler Moor, Service

First Team:

Devon Bookert, West; Damon Sherman-Newsome, Bartlett; Jesse Ward, North Pole; Connor Devine, Wasilla; Ryden Hines, Dimond

Second Team:

Eli Sponseller, North Pole; Amu Aukusitino, Service; Chas Allen, Ketchikan; Jalil Abdul-Bassit, East; Brayton Kuiper, Wasilla

Third Team:

Christian Odom, Palmer; Adam Klie, Service; Sean Niekamp, Palmer; Lance Ibesate, Juneau-Douglas; Colby Mitchell, Chugiak

Honorable Mention:

Trenton Anthony, Bartlett; Kody Broderick, North Pole; Treshawn King-Dunbar, Bartlett; Tommy Hobbs, South; Dylan Lauwers, Dimond; T.J. McKinney, South; Ray Streeter, Lathrop; Tony Yadao, Juneau-Douglas; Dominique Queen, West

All-State Teams Class 4A Girls:

Player of the Year: Keiahnna Engel, Dimond

Coach of the Year: Lesslie Knight, Juneau-Douglas

First Team:

Keiahnna Engel, Dimond; Sarah Tarver, Juneau-Douglas; Hannah Mattson, West Valley; Kaitlyn Klapperich, Colony; Alexis Imoe, Wasilla

Second Team:

Karli Brakes, Juneau-Douglas; Sierra Afoa, Dimond; Taylor Larson, Juneau-Douglas; Alyssa Hutchins, Wasilla; Mary Klapperich, Colony

Third Team:

Joanna Garcia, Kodiak; Bobbi Britt, Bartlett; Jasmine Yarde, West Valley; Heidi Pichler, South; Kelsey Cottle, Wasilla

Honorable Mention:

Kate Anderson, Dimond; Josie Broderick, North Pole; Celeste Colegrove, Wasilla; Erin Doherty, Ketchikan; Tia Mason, South; Allison Schoenborn, East; Raquel Young, Kenai

Monday March 07, 2011
4A Boys All-Conference
     Chas Allen (Ketchikan)

Jesse Lindgren (Ketchikan)

Kyle Day (Ketchikan)

Tony Yadao (JDHS)

Lance Ibesate (JDHS)

Keith Ainsworth (TMHS)

Sunday March 06, 2011
Braves edge Bears as last-second tip misses - Juneau Empire by Matthew Tynan
     It might have been just an exhibition with each of the combatants already guaranteed a berth in their respective state tournaments, but both teams played like it was their last.

Juneau-Douglas forward Colin Gozelski jumped in the paint and tipped the ball to the rim off a Phillip Fenumiai full-court pass from the baseline with .3 seconds remaining, only to watch it glance off the iron before Mt. Edgecumbe students rushed the court in celebration of their team’s 44-42 win over the Crimson Bears in the finale of the Region V 3A/4A Basketball Tournament on Saturday night at Juneau-Douglas High School.

The Bears nearly completed an improbable comeback in the final seconds of the game as junior Tony Yadao drilled a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left to cut the Braves lead to 43-42 before JDHS fouled Mt. Edgecumbe junior forward Travante Williams with .3 remaining.

Williams hit the first free throw, but in an effort to miss the second intentionally he missed the rim, giving the ball to the Bears with no time elapsed. Fenumiai’s pass was on point, but a deflection by Alec Calloway and the tip by Gozelski fell short as the Bears fell in their final home game.

“We knew Mt. Edgecumbe was talented, we’ve seen them twice before. For whatever reason we were not locked in,” Bears coach Steve Potter said. “Being down five points at half doesn’t seem like a big deal, but against them it was. We made errors down the stretch. Hopefully this is an eye-opener. We need to focus on the task at hand.”

Juneau-Douglas had several costly turnovers down the stretch of a close game that Mt. Edgecumbe led most of the way. But the Braves never led by more than seven points, and that was in the first quarter.

“We had some mindless turnovers, but I think the guys played hard and maybe it was fatigue that was a factor,” Potter said. “I thought we got a lot out of our matchups, it was an extremely physical game and I thought we eventually got them to do what we wanted them to do, but it didn’t happen quickly.

“We played hard, just not particularly well.”

But this was just an exhibition, and in about two weeks the Crimson Bears will head up north to test their mettle against the best in the state. Potter said he knows what his team needs to be successful.

“We need to be in the game, mentally, and we need to be focused. We can’t have unforced errors,” he said. “Teams are good enough to force errors so we can’t just give the ball away for nothing.

Gozelski led the Bears in scoring with 13 points, but was the only player in double figures. Williams’ 14 points were a game high.

Saturday March 05, 2011
JDHS wins the war against Ketchikan - Juneau Empire by Shaun T. Cox
     Once again, the Crimson Bears are Anchorage bound.

A late 9-1 run propelled Juneau-Douglas to a 61-53 win over archrival Ketchikan on Friday in another classic Southeast Conference clash in the 4A boys’ bracket championship of the Region V 3A/4A Basketball Tournament in Juneau.

Chas Allen banked a shot high off the glass with about two minutes remaining to make it a 50-48 game, and the Bears’ Lance Ibesate answered with a runner in the lane the other way to start the Bears’ big push.

Tony Yadao got a steal and a free throw, and then Ryan Baldwin put back a missed free throw to push JDHS ahead 55-48. Allen was fouled on a 3-pointer but he made just one free throw and Baldwin got another stickback. Two more free throws for JDHS essentially put the game out of reach with less than 20 seconds to play.

Junior Alec Calloway added insult to injury for the Kings by swatting away Allen’s last-gasp 3-pointer at the buzzer, the crowd went crazy and the Crimson Bears celebrated.

“In the timeout we all just stopped and talked about how we’ve already lost to them by two points in a really close game, and that irritated us,” senior forward Colin Gozelski said of the Bears’ key run. “We said, ‘We’re five minutes away from winning the game, let’s give it all we got, and let’s cut down these nets and win the Southeast.’”

JDHS coach Steve Potter credited the Bears’ defensive effort and overall balance. Ten different players got into the scoring column for JDHS, led by Gozelski’s 16 points. Yadao and Ibesate scored 10 each, and Baldwin added eight.

“(Ketchikan) made some tough shots and they made us look silly a couple of times, but I think it wore on them down the stretch and at the end of the game, we were still big,” Potter said. “Baldwin came up huge down the stretch and I thought Colin played his best game of the year, Lance and Tony were very good. I thought top to bottom, everybody contributed.”

Gozelski also saluted the raucous crowd that rocked the gym for giving the Bears a boost.

“We loved it. We’re 4-0 here and 0-2 there (in Ketchikan), so the crowd has something to do with it,” he said. “You have to love the crowd; both sides. Ketchikan brought like a hundred people to cheer for them. It was a loud gym with no open seats, and you’ve got to love that for a regional.”

Both teams came out firing in the early going, with Allen knocking down a long jumper to start things off. Yadao answered the other way with a 3-pointer from the top of the key for the Bears’ first lead.

Allen hit a free throw and Gozelski scored after two Juneau-Douglas offensive rebounds. Jesse Lindgren went to the cup for a deuce and Allen stuck a triple from the right side. Yadao then buried another 3-pointer to tie the game at 8-all as the teams traded blows back and forth.

Ketchikan finished off the first with a 9-2 run after Lindgren and Allen went straight to the basket for scores, and the Kings made seven straight free throws for a 19-10 lead, but JDHS senior Nino Crisostomo got a stickback to make it a 19-12 game after a quarter.

“I was nervous because whenever we beat them in one game, the next one is always really close,” Gozelski said. “I though we got kind of fat and happy there in the first quarter, but then we came back and made a good push to win the game.”

The teams traded scores to start the second period, and two straight JDHS buckets inside cut into the deficit. Ibesate found Gozelski wide-open underneath the basket for a score, and an Eddie Hurtte jumper tied the game at 25-25 at the 4:55 mark.

Lindgren regained the lead for the Kings with a tip-in the other way, and two free throws by Alex Williams pushed Ketchikan ahead by 3, 29-26.

But it was all Crimson Bears over the final two minutes of the first half.

De’Andre “Jazz” King scored inside and then Yadao made the play of the night, driving and whipping a behind-the-back pass to King for an old-fashioned 3-point play, again sending the crowd into a frenzy. Baldwin then got a score inside and Juneau-Douglas went into the locker room with a 33-29 lead at the break.

Ketchikan oustscored Juneau-Douglas 10-9 in the third quarter.

Allen led the Kings with 15 points and Lindgren added 15.

Friday March 04, 2011
Bears v. Kings... again.
     The Ketchikan Kings defeated the Thunder Mountain Falcons Wednesday for the second time in the tournament to earn another game against the Crimson Bears. This will be the seventh time the two teams have faced off this season. A win for the Bears means a 4A Championship. If the Kings win tonight it will force the "if necessary" game and the two will play for an eighth time on Saturday.

Tip-off is at 8:30 tonight.

Thursday March 03, 2011
Crimson Bears top cold-shooting Kings - Juneau Empire by Shaun T. Cox
     Juneau-Douglas controlled the paint and kept cold-shooting Ketchikan at bay down the stretch for a 53-45 win in Wednesday’s second round of the 4A boys’ bracket of the Region V 3A/4A Basketball Tournament at JDHS.

“We’ve tried to emphasize containing guys and not gambling so much and just doing the work,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said afterward. “I thought we did a fair job with that. Obviously, we broke down there at the end a couple of times late in the game and missed some free throws we don’t want to miss, but I’m certainly pleased with our effort.

“We’re looking forward to Friday’s game.”

Free throw and perimeter shooting were the downfall for the Kings. Ketchikan shot just 3 of 17 from the arc and made just 8 of 19 from the line, and were never able to crack the Crimson Bears’ defense in the paint. The Kings, outsized in the paint, fared well against JDHS underneath this year by taking advantage of their superior quickness.

But not on Wednesday night.

JDHS made better than 41 percent of its shots from the field and 15 of 23 from the stripe.

Junior guard Tony Yadao led all scorers with 20 points after a hot start.

Yadao scored the first 11 points for for the Bears, including a trio of triples, as Juneau-Douglas built a 16-9 lead after a quarter of play. Yadao’s third 3-pointer made it a 9-4 game, and a Ryan Baldwin steal led to a stickback for Alec Calloway and a 13-6 JDHS lead.

The teams traded scores the rest of the way and the Bears led 16-9 heading into the second quarter.

Ketchikan senior Jesse Lindgren made two free throws and Kyle Day scored inside to cut into the Bears’ lead to start the second quarter.

JDHS answered with six straight points to push back ahead by nine after De’Andre “Jazz” King scored inside, Lance Ibesate got a steal and dished across the lane to Yadao for a contested layup. Yadao then whipped a pass from the wing inside to Alec Calloway for a 22-13 Bears lead.

A putback for Day drew the Kings within five points, 24-19, but a loose ball was slapped out to a wide-open Ibesate at the top of the key, where he rose and drained a 3-pointer.

On the Kings’ ensuing possession, Day ball faked, dribbled right and stuck a pull-up jumper.

Senior Colin Gozelski scored a stickback at the buzzer and the Bears took a 29-21 lead into the locker room.

Juneau-Douglas held its lead throughout the third quarter as Ketchikan made just 2 of 9 free throw attempts. The Bears scored just 10 points in the third but took a 39-30 lead into the fourth, and the Kings drew no closer than five points the rest of the way.

Gozelski pulled down 13 rebounds as the Bears beat the Kings 40-29 on the boards and scored 14 second-chance points to Ketchikan’s six. Ibesate chipped in 11 points and five rebounds for JDHS.

Day led the Kings with 17 points, and Allen chipped in 11 points and six rebounds.

Ketchikan plays Thunder Mountain today at 1:30 p.m., and the winner face JDHS at 8:30 p.m.

Tuesday March 01, 2011
Rivals ready for SE tournament - Juneau Empire by Matthew Tynan
     It was a first for each of the current coaches on the boys’ basketball side of the Southeast Conference, not knowing who won Region V outright on the final night of the regular season. But when it came to tournament seeding, even one of the conference’s top team needed a little luck.

Ketchikan, Juneau-Douglas and Thunder Mountain begin their final runs at the conference’s lone state opening following a weekend that saw the Crimson Bears nab the No. 1 seed by way of a blind luck draw after the tiebreakers in place could not determine the top spot in the Southeast Conference Tournament.

Juneau-Douglas fell twice in Ketchikan over the weekend, giving the two schools an outright tie Saturday night. The Bears might have gotten lucky to grab the top spot, but coach Steve Potter said being the No. 1 seed isn’t crucial in this scenario.

“We still have to play the same teams. In a different setting it might be huge, but we know we have to play Thunder Mountain and Ketchikan no matter what,” he said. “But it helps us in that we don’t have that extra game.”

Despite coming off the two losses in Ketchikan, Potter said he feels confident in the way his team performed.

“I think we played pretty well on Saturday. We had a plan and we executed it,” he said. “But in a game where there were fewer possessions because of the tempo of the game, when we made mistakes they were highlighted. Obviously, there are some things we need to shore up, but I don’t think there are any major things we need to change.”

On the other side of the ledger, Kings coach Eric Stockhausen said he felt his team could have been better despite the victories. Still, he believes his group is ready for the chance to come back to Juneau to try and avenge the loss to the Bears in the final game of last year’s conference tournament.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity knowing we have to play better than we did last weekend,” he said. “We’re just happy everybody is healthy and we’re excited to go.”

And while Potter seemed somewhat indifferent about being the top seed, Stockhausen said he’d almost rather it be this way.

“To me it’s no big deal. Last year, sitting around waiting to play on Wednesday wasn’t good for us,” he said. “With the tournament going on it was hard to get quality practice time. So, for us to get out and get some blood flowing through our legs, I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Saturday’s 44-42 Kings victory was a slow-paced, low-scoring tilt, but when asked if he’d prefer a game with a faster tempo, Potter said it didn’t matter as long as his team played the kind of defense he wants.

“At this stage of the game I’m just hoping for a game where we’re locked in defensively and don’t have lapses,” he said. “Slow pace, fast pace, it doesn’t matter as long as we’re guarding people.”

The Bears’ two victories over the Kings this season came when Ketchikan was less than fully healthy. But a full-strength Kings team that just defeated Juneau-Douglas twice in two nights will be ready to try and do what they couldn’t do a little more than two weeks ago: win at Juneau-Douglas High School.

“(Friday) was the first time we played (JDHS) at full strength, so we’re kind of where we thought we’d be,” Stockhausen said. “I don’t think we played particularly well last weekend, and a lot of credit goes to Juneau(-Douglas) for what they did defensively to us.

“We’re just hoping to be a little sharper next game out and try to build on that.”

The Bears will sit and watch as the first round of games is played out, but the Kings must match up with Thunder Mountain today at 6:25 p.m. at JDHS gym for the chance to play Juneau-Douglas on Wednesday night. Falcons coach John Blasco said he hopes is young team can have its best run of the season with so much at stake.

“Everybody is going to be elevating their game because everybody wants to go to state. Even though we’ve seen these teams four times each, we can’t underestimate anything they may or may not do,” he said. “I fully expect both coach Potter and coach Stockhausen to make some adjustments that could potentially catch us off guard, and we have to be ready for it.”

Though Thunder Mountain’s young group is relatively inexperienced when it comes to Southeast Conference Tournament play, Blasco said his kids are preparing with the focus of keeping the game close from the start. If they can do that, he said, there just might be a chance at an upset this week.

“With a young group like this we’ll break down the opponent for each game, but the focus for us is purely on what we’re trying to do as far as getting ourselves established in the game from the tip: keeping our defense strong but also getting our offense going early because that seems to be a lagging point for us,” he said. “There will be small adjustments, but at this point in the season you can’t throw in anything off the wall because there’s not enough time to prepare.

“So there’s no time to try anything brand new, but you can tweak what you have going. I just want my guys to be ready to compete for 32 minutes, and if we do that we’ll give any opponent a good challenge,” he continued. “You never know what can happen in a tournament like this because everyone’s playing for their lives, essentially.”

As for the girls’ bracket, Juneau-Douglas looks like a lock to make it to the state tournament in a bid to repeat as Alaska state champions. While nothing is certain, the Bears have been a dominant force all season in conference play.

Juneau-Douglas has lost only once all season — and that was to one of the state’s top teams, Wasilla — but its conference record is unblemished. The Crimson Bears are 8-0 in conference with an astronomical margin of victory. In those games, JDHS outscored its Southeast opponents by an average of 44.25 points and never won a game over Thunder Mountain and Ketchikan by less than 37 points.

Southeast Conference Tournament action begins today at 4:25 p.m. with a clash between the Thunder Mountain (7-16, 1-7) and Ketchikan girls’ teams for the chance to play the Crimson Bears in the second round of the double-elimination tournament. The Falcons (4-20, 0-8) and Kings boys’ teams square off at 6:25 p.m. following the early game, also for the right to challenge the top-seeded Bears.

Monday February 28, 2011
JV and C-Teams close season with wins
     The Junior Varsity and C-Teams finished their seasons in Ketchikan this weekend. Both teams secured victories in their last game of the year. Both groups showed steady improvement throughout the course of the 2010-2011 campaign.

The C-Team made great strides as the season progressed. Despite victories being hard to come by (4-10), this group of young men continued to work extremely hard in practice to improve their fundamentals. They competed in every game and never gave up.

The members of the C-Team should be proud that their dedication paid off at the end of the year. After a tough loss on Friday, they were able to earn a ten-point conference victory in Ketchikan Saturday night, in their last game of the season. This group of players will continue their climb if they keep working on their basketball skills.

The JV team also had a successful year of growth and improvement. They started the season by winning the first-annual Holiday Hoops Tournament, hosted by Thunder Mountain. This was a boys and girls JV tournament that featured teams from across the region.

As the season moved forward, the players on the JV team became a more focused and cohesive unit. They were able to execute the fundamentals at a high level, which lead to a stellar 20-2 season record, driven by a 14 game winning streak to close out the year. The JV team displayed improvement, dedication, and excitement that speaks well for the future of Crimson Bear basketball.

The players and coaches would like to thank all the parents and those in the community that supported their efforts in the 2010-2011 Junior Varsity and C-Team season. Without you none of this is possible.

Sunday February 27, 2011
Kings, Bears finish tied atop SE Conference - Ketchikan Daily News by John Borneman
     Southeast Conference rivals Ketchikan and Juneau-Douglas staged another classic clash Saturday at Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.

Neither team knows exactly when it will play again.

Jesse Lindgren hit a free throw to break a 42-42 tie with 12.5 seconds remaining, Chas Allen scored a game-high 18 points, and the Ketchikan boys’ basketball team beat Juneau-Douglas 44-42 on senior night in Ketchikan.

“It was what a game should be this time of year,” Kings coach Eric Stockhausen said. “It was a grinder and we somehow found a way to win at the end.

“We’ll watch film Monday, practice Tuesday in the morning, and we don’t know when we play.”

With the No. 1 seed — and a first-round Southeast Conference Tournament bye — at next week’s 4A Southeast Regional in Juneau up for grabs, Ketchikan’s two-point win only served to further muddy the conference waters.

The Crimson Bears entered Saturday’s game with a 2-1 advantage head-to-head and a plus-two point differential against the Kings. But Ketchikan’s win gave the rivals matching 6-2 records in region play, and the teams were still tied after head-to-head, point-differential and common-opponent tiebreakers.

According to an e-mail from Ketchikan Athletic Director Lynn Wadley, the final tiebreaker will be a blind draw with the first team chosen seeded No. 1. The Region V secretary in Thorne Bay will conduct the draw Sunday afternoon, and the No. 2 seed will play Thunder Mountain at 6:25 p.m. Tuesday in Juneau.

Ketchikan needed a 10-2 run over the final eight minutes just to make things interesting.

Lindgren got a nice feed from senior Xavier Jones and converted a layup to make it 40-36, Juneau-Douglas, early in the third quarter, but the Crimson Bears’ Eddie Hurtte answered with a basket — the Bears’ only points of the period — to push the lead back to six with 5:45 remaining.

Jones hit Allen for a layup to made it 42-39, then forced a steal at half-court and drew a foul on Juneau-Douglas’ Colin Gozelski in transition. He split a pair of free throws to cut the lead to two, and the score steadied there as the Crimson Bears turned the ball over after a lengthy possession, Juneau-Douglas’ Lance Ibesate missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and Ketchikan senior Keagan Lervick missed a layup.

Allen tied the game at 42-42 with a driving left-handed layup with 44.4 seconds left, drawing a foul but missing the free throw after the Bears’ DeAndre “Jazz” King failed to convert a 1-and-1 chance at the other end.

Lindgren gave Ketchikan a 43-42 lead with a free throw. On the next JDHS possession, Gozelski was called for traveling on the wing with 2.1 seconds left and Ketchikan senior Alex Williams made it 44-42 with another 1-for-2 trip to the line.

When a deep 3-pointer by Lance Ibesate hit the back iron at the buzzer, Ketchikan escaped.

“We were a little flat for about 28 minutes,” Stockhausen said. “We just weren’t sharp. ... We didn’t shoot as well as we knew we were capable, and a lot of that credit goes to Juneau.”

Juneau-Douglas went 5-for-17 from the free throw line in a 62-50 loss Friday and 4-for-7 with two big misses late Saturday.

“We missed our free throws,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said. “Really, we make one of those free throws, it’s a completely different game. It changes the whole end-game scenario.”

Allen came up big in his final home game, scoring seven points in the first quarter and five in the fourth to finish as the only player on either team in double figures. Junior Kyle Day added eight points and Williams had seven. Lindgren had averaged 19.8 points per game in his previous five contests, but finished with five Saturday.

JDHS utilized a balanced scoring attack led by Ibesate and Ryan Baldwin’s eight points each, King added seven, and Tony Yadao and Gozelski each had six.

Ketchikan drops JDHS

62-50 on Friday

Jesse Lindgren continued his strong play of late with a team-high 20 points, senior Chas Allen added 15, and Ketchikan took a big step toward earning the No. 1 seed at next week’s 4A Southeast Conference Tournament with a 62-50 win over the rival Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears on Friday at Clarke Cochrane Gymnasium.

Ketchikan led for most of the first three quarters until an 11-0 run by JDHS put the Crimson Bears ahead 35-34 with 2:30 left in the third quarter. The Kings responded immediately with a 10-0 run of their own, getting a pair of 3-pointers from junior Kyle Day and a floater from Lindgren to make it 44-35 with 59 seconds left in the period.

The Bears cut the lead to 51-44 on a jumper by Tony Yadao with 3:01 left in the fourth quarter, and the teams traded baskets until Lance Ibesate hit a triple to pull the Crimson Bears within six at the 1:42 mark. Ketchikan turned the ball over and Yadao split a pair of free throws to make it 55-50, but Day earned two freebies on the other end and Ibesate missed the front end of a 1-and-1 on Juneau-Douglas’ next possession.

Wednesday February 16, 2011
Bears up win streak - Juneau Empire by Shaun T. Cox
     Juneau-Douglas upped its win streak to eight games while improving to 6-0 in Southeast Conference play Tuesday with a 55-35 win over cold-shooting Thunder Mountain at JDHS.

The Crimson Bears, on the other hand, started out hot from the field, making 63 percent of their first-half field goals, including 4 of 6 from the perimeter.

“That’s a positive for us. Sooner or later we’re going to have to figure out how to play against a sagging zone,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said. “They came out of (the zone), played a little man and then we started working on some other stuff.

“But it was a good game for us,” he continued. “We got a lot of floor time for our seniors and everybody contributed. They’ve contributed all year but this time, they got a chance to do it on the floor.”

Senior Kyle Barry, seeing his first-ever varsity action, scored inside off a Lance Ibesate drive and dish to get things started. Ibesate drove the lane for a score and a 4-0 lead as the Falcons turned it over on four of their first five possessions.

“We weren’t quite ready to go and I think it started with the JV game. Our energy level was down from the start,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “I think we kind of woke up in the second quarter, but once you’re already down to a top team, it’s hard overcome.”

Ibesate made a 3-pointer and senior Eddie Hurtte scored an old-fashioned 3-point play before Ty Grussendorf netted the Falcons’ first points with a triple. Nino Crisostomo scored the final basket of the first quarter from behind the arc, and JDHS held a 12-3 lead after a period.

The Crimson Bears surged ahead with a 9-0 run early in the second quarter. Travis Godfrey splashed a triple from the wing and an Ibesate steal led to two free throws for Tony Yadao. Alec Calloway came off the bench to add another 3-pointer to make it a 20-5 game, Yadao made another free throw and De’Andre “Jazz” King scored inside off an inbound play before Keith Ainsworth stopped the run with a bucket at the 5:38 mark.

Ben Jahn made it a 23-9 game but Yadao got a steal and two free throws, and two Ryan Baldwin buckets inside sandwiched a Matt Seymour triple for Thunder Mountain. The Falcons closed the half with a free throw to head into the locker room trailing Juneau-Douglas 29-13.

The Falcons got back into the game with a 5-0 run to start the third quarter, but the Bears answered with a 6-0 run to push their lead back to 17, 35-18.

“We talked about coming out strong (to start the second half), and I was really proud of how they did come out and competed,” Blasco said. “But then JD made a couple of buckets and we got stuck in the hole again. From start to finish, I’m proud of the way we competed. We just have to find ways to score.”

An old-fashioned 3-point play for Ainsworth and two free throws for Sam Jahn made it a 35-23 game with 3:03 left to play in the third quarter.

The Bears continued to attack the basket inside and took a 44-26 cushion into the fourth quarter, and Thunder Mountain got no closer than 18 the rest of the way.

“We didn’t want to come out flat and we had a goal to finish undefeated on our home court,” said Ibesate, who scored 12 points with five boards to lead the Bears. “That’s what we were looking for the whole game, to finish undefeated (at home).”

JDHS has upped its record to 16-4, 6-0 on the year after losing three straight games.

“We wanted to get our rhythm back,” Ibesate said. “We were obviously really flat up in Anchorage. We’re figuring out what we need to do to get the wins.”

The Bears have just two games left at Ketchikan the weekend of Feb. 25-26. Thunder Mountain hosts the Kings Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. The Southeast Conference Tournament is March 4-6 in Juneau.

The JDHS JV team pulled off a 53-36 win behind 18 points from Darien Stanger and 14 from Jeffrey Pusich. Ben Jahn scored 10 points for the Falcons, and Matt Seymour added nine.

Tuesday February 15, 2011
Final JDHS v. TMHS contest this week
     The Juneau-Douglas JV and Varsity play Thunder Mountain today at JDHS. The game times are at 4:45 and 6:30 p.m. respectively. The C-teams will square off on Wednesday at JDHS. That game will occur at 6:30 p.m.

Sunday February 13, 2011
JDHS still perfect in SE; JV Bears sweep, C-Team swept - Juneau Empire by Matthew Tynan
     It wasn’t the barnburner Friday’s game produced, but Saturday’s clash was another battle for prime position in Southeast’s fiercest 4A rivalry.

The Kings never pulled closer than seven points over the final frame as Juneau-Douglas was able to hold off rival Ketchikan 56-46 on senior night at JDHS.

Trailing 33-30 late in the third, the Juneau-Douglas broke out of its offensive doldrums and closed the quarter on a 12-0 run that swung the momentum back in the Bears’ favor for good, and a sophomore came up big on senior night.

Swingman Phillip Fenumiai came off the bench late in the third and immediately impacted the game offensively, connecting on two 3-pointers in the final minutes of the quarter. Six of his 10 points came during the 12-0 run, but he also scored the first two buckets of the fourth to keep the Kings at bay.

“Emotions were running high and some of the guys got a little tired,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said. “Phillip was fresh and is aggressive on offense. We had gotten a little tentative — Phillip is not tentative.”

Fenumiai made the most out of limited minutes on the court. He scored 10 points, good enough for second on the team behind junior point guard Lance Ibesate’s 11.

Already without one of the team’s top players, senior Charles Allen, Ketchikan needed someone else to step up. Fortunately for coach Eric Stockhausen’s group, the Kings are well-rounded offensively.

“That was a big run by them at the end of the third – they did a great job,” Stockhausen said. “We played as hard as we could and when we get (Allen) back, I’m hoping we’ll be a little better than we were this weekend.”

Seniors Jesse Lindgren and Alex Williams scored 27 and 14 points, respectively, as the two combined for 41 of the team’s 46 points. Lindgren’s 15-point second quarter single-handedly brought the Kings back into a game appeared over early.

“I think we were feeling pretty good, and then we just didn’t come back in with the same intensity,” Potter said. “I thought we came out better in the second half, but we gave them a confidence that we didn’t want them to have.”

The Kings erupted for 21 points in the second quarter after posting only four in the first. The Crimson Bears looked like they had the game under control, but one night after Kyle Day’s 38-point performance, Lindgren took advantage of the extra attention JDHS paid defensively to his teammate.

Juneau-Douglas’ big men were forced to guard the smaller, quicker Lindgren in the post and the senior forward exploited the lack of speed in the Bears’ interior by taking his man off the dribble repeatedly.

But the Crimson Bears were finally able to establish the kind of defense Potter preaches.

“It feels good to get a couple of wins. Winning on senior night is something I’ve always looked forward to,” Bears senior guard Travis Godfrey said. “I think we’re playing better, but I think we’re progressing each game. We’re really getting the ball inside to our bigs, and against the smaller teams that’s what we have to do.

“They’re a big competitor for this conference, so playing them now and getting those wins gives us confidence.

Though it is a rivalry, each team has mutual respect for the other.

“As a program, they all play hard. They do good things and we can’t try to put our backs to them and get anything done,” Stockhausen said, referring to the Bears’ interior size. “Our best chance is to keep it moving and hope for a breakdown (defensively). Neither team shot the way it did (Friday), but coach Potter always makes adjustments. We’ll make adjustments and we’ll see what happens later in the season.”

The Crimson Bears (14-4, 5-0) face Thunder Mountain at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at JDHS before hitting the road for their final conference games Feb. 25-26 at Ketchikan.

Saturday February 12, 2011
Bears win classic SE Conference clash - Juneau Empire by Matthew Tynan
     Nine ties, eight lead changes, a frenetic second-half pace with a flurry of consecutive baskets, 146 combined points and a would-be game winner at the buzzer — that’s what rivalry games are all about.

And that’s exactly what the raucous crowd at Juneau-Douglas High School got to see Friday night as the Crimson Bears held on to edge visiting Ketchikan 74-72 in a Southeast Conference classic.

“Well, I guess I would say it was an exciting game,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said. “I wasn’t particularly pleased with how we defended. I certainly don’t mind an up-and-down pace because I think that gives our guards an opportunity to shine.

“We got to see some of Lance (Ibesate) and Tony (Yadao’s) better play, but our defense is what we’ve been hanging our hat on all year and it was not acceptable.”

Ketchikan’s Kyle Day led the Kings’ charge with a 38-point, seven 3-pointer barrage, but it wasn’t enough as the Bears were able to hold on down the stretch. Senior Colin Gozelski found De’Andre “Jazz” King underneath for what proved to be the game winner with just 5.6 seconds remaining. The Bears called timeout with 22 seconds left in a 72-72 ball game to set up the play.

“Obviously, we wanted to go inside,” Potter said. “The first look wasn’t there because they took it away. Colin penetrated the gap and they helped up a little bit. I’m sure that’s not what they were supposed to do, and Colin was able to find Jazz underneath. He got the ball up on the glass and finished.

“We always knew one of our strengths would be inside and this was a good example of it,” he continued. “In and up-and-down game, that was a big plus for us. When we needed a bucket, we could get one.”

Ketchikan still had a shot to win at the buzzer even after Jesse Lindgren lost the ball underneath the basket under heavy pressure from Yadao, but Ibesate contested a deep Day 3-pointer at the final horn.

“We haven’t watched it on tape yet but it really looked like Lance, for once in his life, was on top of the ball,” Potter said of his 5-foot-5 point guard. “He’s challenged guys late in games and we’ve been like, ‘What are you doing? The only way we can lose is if you foul that guy.’ I thought Lance got his hand on the ball and it was OK. I think it was a long .5 seconds, but I didn’t believe there was a foul on that play.”

The was game tied at 31-31 with five-plus minutes to go in the third quarter, and that’s when the fireworks began.

Day stuck a triple, but King got a bucket inside with a chance for a free throw, which he missed, and Calloway put the rebound back in for an and-1 and a 36-34 JDHS lead.

Two Lindgren free throws the other way tied things up again at 36-all. Ibesate and Day traded long pull-up jumpers, and then Ibesate went to the cup for a bucket. Baldwin got a tip-in inside and Lindgren answered with a layup.

Ibesate went to the basket again for a deuce and a steal by Hurtte led to a couple of free throws. Calloway reversed the ball for a spot-up 3-pointer for Hurtte, and Ibesate again went to the cup for a lay-in and a 51-43 JDHS lead, but Alex Williams buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it a 51-46 game heading into the fourth quarter.

Yadao scored first to start the final stretch, and Lindgren answered the other way to begin a string of eight straight made baskets by the Kings. An Ibesate 3-pointer pushed the JDHS lead back to 8, 56-48, but a Day triple and a baseline drive and score by Lindgren cut the lead back to 5, 56-51.

Yadao rattled in a runner to start a string of six consecutive made baskets for JDHS as the teams traded scores. A Keagan Lervick putback made it a 69-64 game, and Lindgren cut the Bears’ lead to 3, 69-66, with a bucket inside.

“If they’re making eight shots in a row against us, then they’re getting way too comfortable,” Potter said. “Nobody should feel that comfortable against us. We talked about how we wanted to defend their shooters but we didn’t do it. By the time we did do it, they were comfortable enough that it didn’t really matter. They found the basket and it was really big for them. But I liked the part where we made six in a row.”

Ibesate found Calloway inside for a bucket, but Day answered again with yet a 3-pointer from the wing with 1:30 to play to make it a one-point, 71-70 game.

“He wasn’t supposed to get that look,” Potter admitted. “That wasn’t part of the plan. But we’ve been in a lot of close games this year, and this was the first really high-scoring, close game. Down one or down two or up one or two with a little bit of time left on the clock, we’re OK. We’ve been in that situation enough times that I think sometimes our guys are more relaxed than early in the game when it isn’t clear cut what we should be doing.”

The Kings tied things up for the final time at 72-72 when Evan Gross fouled Day inside after a drive and score, but Day missed the free throw and King got the game winner the other way.

Yadao, who came off the bench with Ibesate as the seniors got the start for senior weekend, led JDHS with 19 points. Ibesate and King each scored 15 points, and Hurtte added 12.

Lindgren added 19 points to Day’s 38.

Wednesday February 09, 2011
Surging JDHS doubles up Thunder Mountain; JV wins too - Juneau Empire by Matthew Tynan
     Juneau-Douglas big man Ryan Baldwin said earlier in the week he and his team hope to finish conference play undefeated.

So far, so good.

The Crimson Bears held Thunder Mountain to just 23 points as they once again reinforced their status as the team to beat in the Southeast Conference on Tuesday with a convincing 46-23 win at Thunder Mountain High School.

“We came out hard and played at our tempo. We were slow at the beginning of the season, but we’re starting to get there,” said Baldwin, who led the Bears with 16 points. “There for a while we didn’t block out and let them back in the game.”

Trailing 35-12 after three quarters, the Falcons stormed out on an 11-0 run over the first three minutes of the fourth. Thunder Mountain freshman Ben Jahn scored a layup, sophomore Keith Ainsworth hit two technical foul free throws. Sophomore Sam Jahn nailed a putback before Ainsworth connected on a 3-pointer and two more free throws to cut a 23-point deficit to 12.

But the Bears regrouped to hold the Falcons scoreless over the final four-plus minutes while going on an 11-0 run of their own, closing out the game. While Juneau-Douglas’ defense was up to the task, Thunder Mountain missed an inordinate number of open jumpers as there was a lid on the basket all night for the Falcons.

“I don’t think you can have much of a worse shooting night,” Falcons coach John Blasco said. “I don’t know what it is because it’s our home floor, and that’s tough. But you can’t win ball games with 23 points, and we were as cold as could be on both ends of the floor.”

Senior Eddie Hurtte was second on the team in scoring with 10 points, while senior Colin Gozelski scored six points after being slowed by a lingering ankle injury he aggravated in last weekend’s victory over Wasilla.

“I think we’re starting to figure some things out. We’re not all the way there, for sure, but we got a lot of guys opportunities with Colin (Gozelski) still nursing that ankle a bit,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said. “We try to guard. Certainly, we know they’re going to go on runs — they’re too talented not to — but we want them to have to work for everything.”

Juneau-Douglas gave up just nine points the entire first half as the Falcons struggled to crack the Bears’ full-court pressure. And whenever Thunder Mountain was able to break the press, the 2-3 zone gave the Falcons fits.

Baldwin was too much to handle inside for Thunder Mountain, scoring eight of Juneau-Douglas’ 12 first-quarter points, while Gozelski scored the other four.

The offensive deficiencies for Thunder Mountain didn’t stop there, however. The Falcons managed only three second-quarter points, but kept the game close by not fouling and playing good defense. Thunder Mountain committed only one foul in the first half. Still, the Falcons scored just three points again in the third quarter before exploding for 11 in the opening three minutes of the fourth to give the Bears a scare. TMHS was relentless on the offensive boards but couldn’t capitalize on second- and third-chance opportunities.

“We were crashing (the glass) really hard tonight, we just have to finish and find a way to put the ball in the bucket,” Blasco said. “That little spurt we had, the guys just woke up for a second. I told the guys it’s a 32-minute ball game. We played about four hard minutes and look what we can do. We cut it to 12 (points) quickly.

“We just have to find a way to do it consistently.”

The Falcons were led by Ainsworth’s 11 points, followed by Sam and Ben Jahn, who scored six points apiece.

In the JV game the Crimson Bears jumped out to a 20-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. When the final horn sounded the first quarter deficit was the final margin, too, 58-38.

Darien Stanger netted 19 points for the Bears to lead all scorers, and Phillip Fenumiai tossed in eleven points. The JV Falcons were led by Ben Jahn's nine points and Matthew Seymour's six.

The Crimson Bears (13-4, 3-0) face Ketchikan at 8 p.m. at JDHS on Friday and Saturday.

Thunder Mountain’s (4-16, 0-5) next contest at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Juneau-Douglas.

Sunday February 06, 2011
Bears upend No. 4 Warriors; JV sweeps, too - Juneau Empire by Matthew Tynan
     Two games against the fourth-ranked team in the state this weekend were viewed as a measuring stick for Juneau-Douglas, and two wins would go along way in validating the Crimson Bears.

Consider coach Steve Potter’s club validated.

Juneau-Douglas hit its free throws down the stretch and managed to keep Wasilla at arm’s length as the Crimson Bears won for the second time in as many nights, 48-42 this time, against a team that entered the weekend No. 5 in the Winning Percentage Index, and fourth in the Alaska Basketball Coaches Association Poll.

Wasilla big man Connor Devine fouled out of the contest at the 3:26 to play in a 39-39 ball game, and the Bears took advantage. With the outside shot not falling — JDHS shot just 35 percent from the floor, including 1-for-8 from behind the arc — the Bears weren’t able to spread the floor against the 6-foot-9 Devine. But it was a different story when the big man took a seat for good.

Juneau-Douglas repeatedly attacked the paint when the anchor of Wasilla’s defense was on the bench, and the Bears finished the final 2:42 on a 9-3 run with all points coming in the paint or from the stripe.

“I thought we did a good job getting them to play at our tempo,” Potter said. “I thought we made them play faster than they wanted. We had a tough time with their bigs, but today we were a little more effective.

“We did a better job with Ryan (Baldwin) and (De’Andre) Jazz (King) going at (Devine) instead of going around him.”

Devine scored just five points on the night even though JDHS battled foul trouble as well — Baldwin fouled out in just eight minutes and Evan Gross played only nine minutes, racking up four fouls — but his absence at the end of the game was felt on the defensive end and on the boards. The big man also had nine rebounds and three blocked shots in about 23 minutes.

“Obviously (fouling out) meant a lot because he changes so much defensively. He rebounds the ball, defends, changes shots and he does a great job,” Wasilla coach Ryan Engebretsen said. “Unfortunately, he got called on a couple of things we didn’t agree with, but it is what it is and our guards have to keep guys out of the paint as well.”

Junior guard Tony Yadao paced the Bears with 10 points and junior Lance Ibesate, senior Edward Hurtte and junior Alec Calloway scored seven points each.

Braydon Kuiper led all scorers with 12 points. The Warriors did have their chances throughout the game, but Juneau-Douglas responded whenever Wasilla would make a move.

“Coach just regrouped us at halftime, saying if we wanted to win we had to come out with more defensive intensity. That’s what we did,” said Hurtte, who celebrated his 18th birthday with a win Saturday, and then was elevated to captain by his teammates afterward. “We got off to a slow start this season, but now we’re starting to trust our teammates and we’re really starting to come together.”

Juneau-Douglas once again overcame a slow start to win its fourth game in a row, but the first quarter was anything but a model of offensive efficiency. Neither side could keep control of the ball, and neither was able to capitalize on the other’s mistakes as two of the top six teams in the state labored to score just nine points combined in the quarter, with Wasilla leading 5-4.

Trailing 11-7 after the first 10 minutes of the game, the Crimson Bears found their rhythm during a 7-0 run midway through the second quarter. Two Colin Gozelski free throws, an Ibesate free throw and two layups from Yadao and Calloway sparked a Bears offense that had been stagnant for most of the early going. Still, once again, it all started with Juneau-Douglas’ defense.

The Bears adjusted their press in the second, eliminating Wasilla’s long, diagonal passes downcourt, and trapped the Warriors whenever possible, making Wasilla visibly uncomfortable getting into its offensive sets.

“That’s got to be our calling card — we have to hang our hat on our defense. Apparently we’re not the best shooters in the world,” Potter joked. “We have guys who can hit shots, but if our defense gets us easy opportunities, that’s what we need to do.”

Next up for the Crimson Bears (12-4, 2-0) is the crosstown rival Falcons (4-15, 0-4) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Thunder Mountain High School.

JDHS defense shines through on Friday

Juneau-Douglas played perhaps its best defensive game of the season Friday night in knocking off No. 4 Wasilla 51-44 in Juneau.

“Obviously, we had a couple of lapses but I thought we made it hard for them to get shots,” Crimson Bears coach Steve Potter said. “We didn’t want to foul (Connor Devine) quite as much, but we have to make people work against us and I thought, for the first time, that our guards and big guys were on the same page with their effort. The bigs were there providing backup and making it difficult for where they wanted to go.”

Wasilla led 10-9 at the end of the first quarter, but JDHS scored the first six points of the second after two straight old-fashioned 3-point plays to take a lead the Crimson Bears never relinquished.

Senior forward Colin Gozelski scored on a breakaway layup, made the free throw and then got a steal, passing to junior point guard Lance Ibesate for another layup and-1 for a 15-10 JDHS lead.

Another Gozelski steal led to a bucket inside for senior guard Edward Hurtte off a dish from Ibesate for the Bears’ biggest lead of the first half, 25-16, which was a 25-18 cushion at the break after Devine made a couple of free throws for Wasilla.

The Bears went ahead by 10 points after the 5-foot-5 Ibesate canned a tear-drop runner over the top of the 6-foot-9 Devine early in the third quarter.

Wasilla chipped away and pulled within three, 32-29, after junior Tyler Anderson followed his own miss inside and senior Cole Schierman scored an old-fashioned 3-point play as JDHS missed nine straight shots and two free throws.

Sophomore wing Phillip Fenumiai came off the bench for the Bears and splashed a huge 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Wasilla countered with a Wade Stahle bucket inside.

Junior guard Tony Yadao drove and dished to Hurtte inside for a bucket, and Fenumiai buried another 3-pointer from the wing to push JDHS back out by 7, 40-33. Fenumiai attempted another triple and missed, but sprinted toward the basket for an easy bucket after Gozelski corralled the offensive rebound and fed him for two, and a 42-32 JDHS lead.

“It was (a huge boost). Phillip’s got a nice shot and he’s got an offensive mindset. He’s an attacking player and he’s making the most of his opportunities,” Potter said of his sophomore wing’s instant offense off the bench. “It was a nice boost for us and it gave us just that little bit of cushion where we knew we could defend with confidence. We could be aggressive and gamble a little bit and make things difficult for them.”

Wasilla pulled within 6, 45-39, heading into the fourth quarter and after airballing a couple of 3-pointers, finally got one to drop to make it a 47-44 ball game as Yadao and Ibesate missed the front end of a 1-and-1 three straight times. But there was only 13 seconds left after Brayden Kuiper’s triple, and Yadao made four straight free throws to close the game, much to Potter’s relief.

“I think the guys do that on purpose just to see if they can make me lose all my hair before they leave,” Potter quipped, referencing the missed free throws that allowed the Warriors to make it a one-possession game.

The balanced Bears spread the ball around. Nobody reached double figures but five players scored at least six points. Hurtte led with nine points, Ibesate, De’Andre “Jazz” King and Fenumiai scored eight each, and Gozelski put up six. In all, 10 different players scored for JDHS.

“I think that’s when we’re at our best, when a lot of guys are scoring,” Potter said. “We have guys that are capable of having big scoring nights and when it happens that’s great, but I think part of what makes us potentially a good team is that we have a lot of guys that can score. Depending on how teams defend us, we have guys that are a threat at every position, and guys that can score off the bench.”

Devine, a possible Division I prospect, led all scorers with 14 points, and added 15 rebounds and nine blocks. He made just two field goals as 10 points came from the free throw line. JDHS chose to body him up with strong men Ryan Baldwin, 6-foot-6, and the 6-foot-4 King. Six-foot-7 center Evan Gross, closest in height to Devine, matched up with him for a time after Baldwin drew his fourth foul.

“I thought they all did a pretty good job on him,” Potter said. “He still was the leading scorer in the game but he didn’t get his stuff for free. He had to work for everything he got.”

The JV Bears pulled out a 50-43 win against the visiting Wasilla JV team Friday night behind 12 points from Fenumiai, 11 from both Jeffrey Pusich and Darien Stanger, and 10 from Jackson Lehnhart.

On Saturday the JV team also secured another victory against the JV Warriors behind 22 points from Fenumiai and 19 points from Stanger. The final score was 67-53.

Thursday February 03, 2011
Warriors a tall order for Bears - Juneau Empire by Matthew Tynan
     The season is now more than a month and a half old, but Juneau’s prep hoopsters have yet to be tested like they will be this weekend when Wasilla visits the capital city for a three-game road trip.

The 8-4 Warriors boys’ basketball team, ranked fourth in the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches Poll, will square off with Thunder Mountain (4-12, 0-2) tonight at TMHS before a two-game series with Juneau-Douglas (10-4, 2-0) on Friday and Saturday.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us. They’re ranked above us in the (Winning Percentage Index), they have an elite player and not only that, but they kicked the tar out of us last year in the state tournament,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said. “When you’re highly ranked it usually means you’re doing something right, and I think they do things right.

“They usually play pretty tough man (defense), they cut hard and they rebound well. They play basketball the right way.”

The Crimson Bears’ strength all year has been their size inside, but that’s about to be tested. Wasilla’s two leading scorers, juniors Connor Devine and Braydon Kuiper, stand 6-foot-9 and 6-foot-4, respectively, and are capable of scoring from anywhere on the floor.

While he might not necessarily be larger in girth, at 6-foot-9, Devine is taller than anyone Juneau-Douglas can throw at him. His 16.6 points, 10 rebounds and 4.1 blocks per game also prove he’s more than just a big body inside.

“(Devine) is a talented player. We just have to move our feet and not let him set up where he wants. He can shoot the 3-pointer and he also two-hand dunked on us in the post during the state tournament,” Potter said. “He can do it from wherever he is on the floor, and we just need to make sure we guard him. He’s tough going to the board and if you let him get the ball, he’s going to score.”

But he’s not the only threat Wasilla poses.

“They have another good player (Kuiper) who’s a pretty strong player,” Potter said. “He’s been scoring in big bunches for them this year.”

Kuiper’s numbers aren’t that far behind Devine’s at 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, but he plays the role of swingman for the Warriors. His size on the perimeter will certainly test Juneau-Douglas’ smaller guards, but Potter said he has seen improvement in his squad in recent weeks.

“We played a little better against Mt. Edgecumbe (on Jan. 27). They’re obviously a tough matchup for us, but I thought we defended them pretty well,” he said. “Our offense still has those lulls we’re working hard to overcome, but we’re hoping this weekend will give us a chance to try out a couple of new things we’re working on.

“We’ll see if we can be more effective.”