ANCHORAGE — The champs aren’t ready to move over quite yet. Not after the opening round of the ASAA/First National Bank Alaska Basketball State Championships.
Second-seeded Juneau-Douglas opened defense of its 4A girls’ basketball state title by steamrolling No. 7 South Anchorage 60-22 Thursday morning at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena.
Senior Sarah Tarver showed no ill effects from a severely sprained ankle suffered less than two weeks ago, scoring a game-high 14 points on 7 of 14 shooting while pulling down nine rebounds in 19 minutes.
The Crimson Bears opened with an 18-0 run and led 18-4 after a quarter, though coach Lesslie Knight said the team didn’t play well early on.
“We actually felt kind of sluggish — didn’t hit an outside shot until the fourth quarter — so we were very fortunate the score turned out the way it did,” she said. “The good thing was we got a lot of kids in, so it was a good warm-up game.”
The Bears (26-1 overall) face No. 3 Colony at 5 p.m. today in the semifinals. The winner advances to Saturday’s championship game.
On Thursday, South never had a chance.
Juneau-Douglas scored the game’s first 18 points, keeping the Wolverines off the board for more than six minutes. Once again, the Bears forced a slew of turnovers and converted them into easy baskets. The Wolverines committed 33 turnovers, giving away 26 points.
JDHS controlled the glass, outrebounding South 52-32 to earn a 14-0 advantage in second-chance points.
After taking a 30-14 lead into the locker room at halftime, Juneau-Douglas opened the second half with a 12-0 run, eventually building the lead to more than 30.
The Wolverines shot 6 of 31 from the field and managed just eight points in the second half, including three in the fourth quarter. South scored almost half of its 22 points at the free throw line, where they made 10 of 13.
Knight credited Tarver, who also had six steals, two assists and a block, for contributing at both ends of the court.
“She was able to cover the basket, hit some key inside shots and grab rebounds,” she said of her All-State forward.
Fellow All-State selections Taylor Larson and Karli Brakes also played key roles.
Larson added 12 points, eight rebounds and three steals in just 16 minutes, and Brakes had four points, seven assists and 10 steals. Eight of the 11 players who stepped on the floor scored for the Bears, with the bench chipping in 16 points.
Sophomore forward Gabi Fenumiai scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds in just seven minutes.
Malae Afualo scored a team-high six points for the Wolverines, who face Soldotna in the consolation bracket at 9:45 a.m.
The first-round victory puts the Bears two wins away from their second state title in as many years.
With eight seniors and a favorable draw — powerhouses Dimond and Wasilla meet at 3:15 p.m. today on the other side of the bracket — the pieces are falling to place for Juneau-Douglas.
Tarver said the Bears must keep focus on Colony, a team they’ve beaten 43-21 twice this year.
“We can’t underestimate anybody,” she said. “We have to be ready for every game and we have to keep believing in each other.”
The games are being webcast at www.asaa.org.