From the opening tip to the sound of the final buzzer an army of swarming Juneau Douglas High School boys basketball players pressured visiting Colony into two non-conference losses on homecoming weekend, sweeping the Knights 75-69 on Friday and 67-54 on Saturday.
“Definitely everybody played hard,” JDHS head coach Robert Casperson said after Friday’s win. “It was the culmination of a big week at school for these kids with all the activities going on during the week. It was a great crowd with great fan support.”
That support showed with five minutes remaining in the third quarter as the Crimson Bears, trailing 38-35, went on a 21-5 run to end the period.
Senior guard Lance Ibesate started the onslaught with a break-a-way layup, then turned around to draw Colony’s Nathan Umbarger into his third foul and hit two free throws for a lead the Crimson Bears never relinquished.
Ibesate’s backcourt classmate Tony Yadao hit a free throw, Ibesate drew Umbarger’s fourth foul to hit two more free throws, and Alec Calloway scored on a put back and again on an Austin Shoemaker steal for a 46-40 lead at the 2:49 mark.
Shoemaker stole the next possession from Colony and hit a streaking Ibesate to make it 48-40 and the duo repeated the same scenario 15 seconds later for a 10-point advantage.
Ibesate created his own larceny on the next Colony possession and fed Calloway for two, Evan Gross notched two free throws and Ibesate finished the period with a breaking layup on an assist from Phillip Fenumiai for a 56-43 lead.
Ibesate scored 12 of his team high 20 points in the run.
“The crowd got excited,” Casperson said. “It seemed to fuel our guys. A lot of guys came in and did some nice things for us. That is a nice luxury to have as a coach.”
After Friday’s game, Casperson said the Crimson Bears would have to defend better if they wanted to repeat the win.
JDHS allowed Colony’s leading scorer, Hunter Eisenhower, to connect for a game high 22 points and the Knights’ guards Tim Smith and Jared Turner added 11 and 10 respectively.
Colony’s guards combined for five connections from beyond the arch to keep the Knights in a close first half game. JDHS trailed after the first quarter 16-13
The second period saw solid efforts off the Crimson Bears bench as six different players scored including reserves Ryan Kelly and Fenumiai from deep and Jeffrey Pusich inside. In addition the JDHS rotation allowed Austin Shoemaker to spell hard-working Darien Stanger and Taylor Swofford to grab two of the game’s most emphatic rebounds in his brief stint on the floor.
Ibesate scored on a lay in with two seconds remaining but Colony’s Eisenhower took the inbounds pass and threw a length of the court three-pointer to put the Knights on top at the break 30-29.
The Knights were forced to turnover their entire line up as well due to JDHS’ full court man pressure.
Yadao especially made life unbearable for the opposing backcourt as he chested dribblers for 84-feet. The result carried over to the second wave of defenders who could pick off errant passes or double team.
“I really enjoyed Tony’s defense,” Casperson said. “I thought he put a lot of effort on the defensive side of the ball and that is going to pay off for us. We have three or four guys who can put that kind of pressure on. We just have to commit to doing it and build the trust that our teammates are behind us if we get beat.”
Calloway netted 16 points for the Crimson Bears, Yadao and Fenumiai 10 points apiece, Gross had nine points, Stanger and Kelly three points, Pusich and Shoemaker two apiece. Calloway and Gross, who were selected to the 2010 State Tournament Good Sport Team, showed they had more meanness now as seniors, each totaling nine rebounds in the game.
JDHS hit just 17-35 from the charity stripe while Colony connected on 15-22.
Saturday’s first half was the calm before the storm for the Knights.
The Crimson Bears chose not to implement their full court man press, but instead rotated through the entire roster in a patient offense.
Each Crimson Bears jersey wearer had an opportunity to score.
Notched at 13-13 after one period of play, both teams ran patient sets for a 28-27 Colony first half lead.
As the third quarter began, so did the Crimson Bears press, the fan enthusiasm, the student body yell section, the pep band and half of downtown Juneau.
“We ratcheted up our defense,” Casperson said. “We started pressing and trapping like we normally like to do.”
Yadao and Ibesate prevented each ballhandler from getting farther than five feet during a dribble.
Help defense from Calloway, Fenumiai, Stanger and Shoemaker filled the gaps.
Strong boards from Gross, Jeffrey Pusich and Jesse Miller stopped any second shot attempts.
When the third period ended the Crimson Bears had a 52-39 advantage.
Calloway led the Crimson Bears with 12 points, Shoemaker added 10, Ibesate and Yadao nine each, Fenumiai eight, Pusich six, Stanger three, Jackson Lehnhart, Aquino Brinson, Gary Speck, Gross and Miller two each.
JDHS hit 11-18 from the charity stripe, Colony was 19-23.
Hunter Eisenhower led the Knights with 14 points, 10 of which came from the free throw line as he was unable to get clean, open looks at the basket under the JDHS pressure.
“Everybody contributed in the time they got,” Casperson said. “I told our guys they are not on the team because they look good in travel gear, they are on the varsity because they can play. I was very pleased with our effort this weakend.”
Casperson stated that Calloway had an outstanding defensive weekend.
“As talented as some of our defenders are, like Tony and Lance, he is right in there every night having to guard one of the toughest scorers on the other team,” Casperson said. “He is stepping up to that challenge and it is pretty fun to watch. All of our guys are beginning to take it upon themselves to demand more of each other.”
Casperson also acknowledged the crowd.
“I know I have been preaching to the choir, but, man the crowd great,” Casperson said. “And I think they got to see some great basketball this weekend. I am really proud of our guys. To see the progress we are making from the first four weeks, I think we are heading in the right direction. I appreciate the fans that came out to see that because our guys are fun to watch, and I think the fans are finding that out.”