A rebound laden Juneau-Douglas High School boys’ basketball team proved to be too big of an obstacle for the cross-town rival Thunder Mountain High School to overcome this weekend.
The Crimson Bears had a bevy of second shots in the first period of Friday’s 63-40 win over the Falcons.
“We have to find a way to run our defense effectively and box out so they don’t get second shots,” TMHS head coach John Blasco said after Friday’s loss. “They are pretty big inside.”
The wear and tear of battling inside took an early toll on the Falcons as Juneau’s 6-foot-7 Evan Gross, although not making every put back, was active on the glass and opened up the key for his teammates.
Alec Calloway prospered most from attacking the glass, leading the Crimson Bears with 18 points in the game.
The Falcons started in a man-to-man defense in the first quarter, switching to zone midway as rebounding became a factor.
“It was just a different look,” Blasco said. “Something we were trying in the game plan. It had its effectiveness but it can still be improved.”
The Falcons battled inside to stay close 12-10 after one period of play and went into halftime trailing just 23-14.
“The jitters generally play a part in terms of adrenaline,” Blasco said. “It is the first time putting on the uniforms, first time playing in front of the home crowd, it is JDHS. There are a lot of things to put into it but those things all went away after halftime. It is just a matter of getting into a comfortable offense and getting the right looks to score.”
An 18-10 third quarter scoring advantage gave the Crimson Bears the 41-24 cushion that allowed them to coast into the final period of play.
“When they started pulling away in the second quarter we got on our heels,” Blasco said. “Their defense pushed us further from the perimeter than we wanted to be, and we played on our heels at times and had a hard time getting into the flow of the offense. We probably shot a pretty low percentage.”
Tony Yadao added 16 points for the Crimson Bears, Austin Shoemaker 10, Gross seven, Taylor Swofford four, Lance Ibesate and Darien Stranger three apiece and Jesse Miller two.
Sam Jahn 10, Matt Seymour eight, Ben Jahn seven, Avery Stewart six, Travis Johnson four, Allen Shaw and Ty Grussendorf two apiece, and Coltin Lanz one.
JDHS hit 19-25 from the charity stripe and TMHS was 10-17.
“Thunder Mountain is a tough matchup for us,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said. “They play extremely hard. I expect more games like this weekend when we play them down the road.”
On Saturday night it was the Crimson Bears turn to defend their home court and the Falcons were worthy adversaries once again, taking a 19-17 halftime lead.
Gross’ third foul at the start of the third quarter should have meant an advantage to the Falcons but JDHS’ Yadao and Ibesate began to spread the floor on offense and distribute the ball for open jumpers or slashing layins.
“We have a lot of guys that are waiting for the opportunity to step up and support their teammates,” Casperson said. “And that is exactly what happened this weekend.”
Gross drew his fourth foul before the period ended and Gary Speck provided quality relief inside.
After a put back inside by TMHS’ Sam Jahn, the Crimson Bears duo of Ibesate and Yadao scored and assisted on three straight possessions and JDHS led going into the final period 35-32.
Calloway and Yadao pushed the lead to 39-32 at quarter’s start and the tempo on defense was increased to full court.
The Falcons would draw to within four at the 6:08 mark on a Ben Jahn three pointer but a key shot by Calloway on the next possession and a Stanger trey kept the momentum with the Crimson Bears for the win.
“It’s a work in progress for us,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said. “I wasn’t surprised by tonight at all, in regards to how hard they played and how tight it was all the way. In all honesty I was more surprised with the margin of victory Friday.”
Ibesate led JDHS with 15 points, Yadao had 10, Speck seven, Stanger six, Gross five, Calloway four, Shoemaker three, Ryan Kelly, Jesse Miller and Aquino Brinson two each.
The Falcons’ Ben Jahn led with 15 points, Seymour and Travis Johnson eight apiece, S. Jahn had four, Vili Tupou and Stewart three each, Lanz and Grussendorf two apiece.
Thunder Mountain hit 9-18 at the charity stripe while Juneau-Douglas was 14-21.
The Falcons missed guards Josh Tupou and Keith Ainsworth, both out with injuries and awaiting clearance to play.
“Our game plan is effective,” Blasco said. “We just have to make some adjustments to it and utilize the guys we have in the game and continue to be aggressive. The good news is there is room for us to improve and we can get better.”
The JDHS Junior varsity won on Saturday 53-47 behind 23 points from Brinson. Trent Uddipa scored 13 for the TMHS JV.