A senior played big inside, a junior dominated from the wing, and a sophomore hit a key shot to extend the game as the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team took powerful Colony to task on Friday night before falling 46-42.
The Crimson Bears’ Nicole George scored 10 points and grabbed seven boards, Esra Siddeek had 15 points, and Kaitlin Fagerstrom hit one of two free throws with five seconds left to tie the game at 37 and force overtime.
“It was cool,” Fagerstrom said. “I have never hit such a big shot before. I was proud of myself for that.”
Fagerstrom also had the unenviable job of defending Colony’s leading scorer, all-state junior Mary Klapperich.
“I just tried to give everything I got,” Fagerstrom said. “It was intimidating no doubt, but I was able to pull through. I felt it was my best game ever. I wasn’t afraid to drive or rebound or do anything.”
The Crimson Bears alternated between a full and half court man pressure, disrupting a Colony team with nearly identical experience, except when Klapperich had to retrieve the ball.
“Kaitlin had her best game of the season, maybe her career,” JDHS head coach Dee Boster said. “She was put on Klapperich for a reason and she limited her to seven points in the first half. Sierra (Tagaban) was also on that assignment.”
JDHS had five players find the net as they opened a 14-10 first quarter lad. Colony’s Izzy Tweed hit two of her three shots from beyond the arch to keep the Knights close. Klapperich went 4-4 from the free throw line in the second quarter as Fagerstrom was hit for two of her four aggressive fouls in the period. The Knights toyed with a half court press and both teams registered a rash of errant passes as they tried to adjust to pressure.
Marissa Brakes hit two free throws with 50 seconds remaining in the half and Esra Siddeek added two more for a 22-16 advantage starting the third period.
“It was different, a different feel,” Colony’s Klapperich said of the JDHS defense. Klapperich has been in the season-ending state tournament since a freshman. “We have a young team and Juneau graduated an entire roster. It was different getting a feel for their, well, their peskiness. They are little and fast and all up in your face and not really giving you room. Which is awesome. It is very admirable to see how they can just get up into you. A lot of us were surprised. It is a test of leadership, both on and off the court, being one of the only upper classmen to try and settle our team down in the first few minutes of a game like this and get them to relax their mental games.”
Colony relaxed and implemented their own full court pressure to slowly pull themselves back into the contests
“It was a tough loss but I am okay with it,” JDHS head coach Dee Boster said. “We made huge improvements, obviously we played a heck of a lot better first half.”
In the second half Colony utilized their full court pressure
The Crimson Bears led 26-19 when Siddeek was hit with her third foul at the 4:12 mark of the third period and Brakes was whistled for her third a minute later.
With the two established JDHS leaders on the bench Colony went on a seven-point run to tie the game.
Kayla Balovich gave the Crimson Bears a two-point lead and Nicole George drew Klapperich’s third foul with 1:27 left in the stanza. Siddeek came in to score on an assist by Brakes for a 32-29 margin starting the final stanza.
Colony would regain the lead by three when Brakes was called for a player control foul and was done for the night with 3:18 remaining in the fourth.
“We really fought it out,” Boster said. “I am really proud of the young kids that went into the game at the end when Marissa and Nicole fouled out. We were doing different subs and rotations.
Boster stated she was impressed by the defensive substitutions by juniors T-Jae Garcia, Tori Fogg, and Amberli Fitka and freshman Rachelle Roldan.
Roldan nailed a three pointer to start the overtime period and give JDHS a 40-37 lead. Tweed matched the shot for Colony.
Ari Gross set a pick for Siddeek who drove and scored along the baseline but Colony’s Jerica Nelson tied the game again with 1:39 remaining.
A jump ball possession went to Colony and Klapperich nailed a three pointer, her second of the game, with 1:12 remaining. The Crimson Bears missed a lay in with 25 seconds left, added another turnover, and then fouled Tweed who notched the final 46-42 score.
“I think the girls realize we have more to work on,” Boster said. “The press break and adjusting is one of them. We didn’t adjust to certain things and if Colony is smart, they are going to press us right from the start tomorrow.”
JDHS committed over 30 turnovers and Colony had 15.
“We had 15 turnovers at halftime,” Boster said. “All of that is just not being able to take control of the press. We just didn’t attack the basket in the second half like we did the first. It is all about experience and it was very good for our kids to see that they could hold their own against somebody like Colony.”
Siddeek led the Crimson Bears with 15 points, George added 10, Brakes and Fagerstrom five apiece, Balovich four, and Roldan three. Klapperich led Colony with 14 points and Tweed netted 10.
Neither team shot well from the charity stripe as JDHS hit 13-24 and the Knights went 10-25.
On Saturday night the Crimson Bears adjusted their press break offense which resulted in an 11-4 first quarter lead. A spectacular second quarter by substitute Fitka, who tallied two big baskets in the period and Garcia with one, in addition to Fagerstrom’s three-pointer, took the Crimson Bears into the half up 21-15 .
Colony would never gain the lead. JDHS controlled the tempo and led 28-20 entering the final period and held off the Knights for a 37-31 win.
George led the Crimson Bears with eight points and nine boards, Gross tallied seven points, Fitka six, Fagerstrom five, Siddeek four, Garcia and Balovich three apiece, and Brakes one.
“Kayla (Balovich) did things that don’t show up in the stats,” Boster said. “Her help side defense was huge for us. And Amberli (Fitka) impressed me a lot tonight. Nicole always does things to help us. We, as a team, just improved so much on the things we talked about improving two weeks ago. Our new press break we put in and worked on for two hours today.”
JDHS was 7-20 from the charity stripe, Colony hit 5-17 and only shot two free throws in the second half.
Stefanski led the Knights with 14 points and Klapperich added seven.