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.
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.