The last time the Juneau-Douglas girl’s basketball team faced Wasilla a state championship was on the line and the Crimson Bears were favored to repeat as all-Alaska titleholders. JDHS had claimed the 2009-10 title 41-35 over Wasilla with basically the same lineup.
Things didn’t go as planned last March as Wasilla won 36-30 in what was a poor shooting effort by the Crimson Bears.
Almost a year later, and after graduation claimed the starting roster, Juneau-Douglas found itself against the Warriors once again, this time at Wasilla on Monday night.
“We played scared,” JDHS head coach Dee Boster said. “And they were bigger than us, we played in the land of the giants the whole game.”
After one quarter it was apparent there were a few things to work on through the young season. The Warriors pounced and pressed to a 25-4 advantage, 39-7 at the half and 51-11 at the start of the fourth period. The largest lead of the game was 51-9 and Wasilla did not score in the final quarter, while the Crimson Bears tallied five points.
JDHS totaled 25 turnovers in the game to Wasilla’s nine.
While all that sounds bad, the JD girls did not give up and only had five personal fouls.
Esra Siddeek scored 10 points for the Crimson Bears and grabbed four rebounds, Marissa Brakes had three points and 10 rebounds, Kayla Balovich scored two points and three rebounds and Ari Gross one point and five rebounds. Nicole George had four rebounds.
JD was 6-11 from the charity stripe and hit just 13. 5 percent from the floor. WHS was 7-8 at the line and shot 40.0 from the field. All-State selection Alyssa Hutchins led Wasilla with 17 points and Kyla Dinkel added 14.
“We had issues with catching the ball and hanging on to it,” Boster said. “Wasilla caused some of that but a lot was just mental concentration.”
On Tuesday the Crimson Bears fell to the Lake Washington Kangs. The Kirkland, Wash. school has a student enrollment of over 1,100 and play in the KingCo 3A/2A conference.
JDHS hung close with the Kangs and trailed 11-5 starting the second period. Lake Washington erupted for 20 points while limited the Crimson Bears to nine and took a halftime advantage of 31-14. The teams played even down the stretch and JDHS trailed 43-24 entering the final stanza before falling 53-31.
“They had 28 points off of our turnovers,” Boster said. “That is huge. And, again, they were bigger than us and we couldn’t get the ball and when we did we couldn’t hold on to it.”
Siddeek again led with 13 points and five rebounds, Kymberlee Kelly tallied eight points and seven boards, Brakes scored four points and grabbed two boards, and TJae Garcia, Sierra Tagaban and George scored two each. Tagaban and Gross had five rebounds apiece, George three, Brakes, Fagerstrom and Balovich two each, and Garcia one.
JDHS had 34 turnovers to 21 for LW. The Crimson Bears outrebounded the Kangs 32-29 but LW hit 38.2 percent from the field while JD notched 28.6.
JDHS was 7-12 from the charity stripe, LW 7-13. Hunter Hopkins scored 14 to lead the Kangs and Peyton Wozeniak added 12.
The Crimson Bears fared better in their final game on Wednesday night against the Kentlake High School. The Falcons, from Kent, Wash., are a 4A power from the Southern Puget Sound League but are currently in a rebuilding year.
“We matched up better will this team height for height,” Boster said. “The other two teams were just bigger than us.”
JD lost 40-35 and were again hit by the turnover bug.
“Our Biggest issue in all three games were our turnovers,” Boster said. “You can’t even come close to winning if you have as many as we did. But we can only use that excuse for so long and then you have to get better.”
Boster said the turnovers came from bad passes, bad choices and keeping control of the ball.
The score was tied at seven’s starting the second quarter but Kentlake upped the pressure to take a 21-12 lead into the break. The Crimson Bears reversed the pressure in the third period to draw within three, 26-23 as the quarter ended. The Falcons outscored JD in the final stanza 14-12 for the win.
“Our posts did a very good job,” Boster said. “Ari was pretty tough, she had her best game of the tournament, maybe not in stats but in being physical inside.”
Siddeek led the Crimson Bears with 21 points and 12 rebounds; Kelly added five points and one rebound, Garcia, Fagerstrom, Gross and George scored two apiece. Balovich and Fagerstrom grabbed five rebounds each and Brakes had five assists. Stephanie Luce and Alyssa Simonson led Kentlake with 11 points each, and Paige Engeland added 10.
JD was 12-40 from the field, 7-13 from the charity stripe; Kent Lake hit 30 percent from the court and 15-23 from the line
“We learned that we can’t just be satisfied with beating our cross town rivals,” Boster said. “We are going to be facing some bigger and stronger teams through the season and we can’t rely on one person to be our scorer. We rotated well this last game and our help defense improved. We need to continue to work on those things.
We are looking forward to the rest of the season. The kids are willing to work hard so we will see what we can do.”