The Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears girl’s basketball team made a southeast statement during Friday’s 37-34 win over the visiting Ketchikan, if not to the Lady Kings then to themselves.
The Crimson Bears can play under control, at least in the second half with the game on the line.
“We were down at one time 23-16 in the third quarter,” JDHS head coach Dee Boster said. “Then we just bounced back and controlled the rest of the game enough to come up with the win.”
This was the first meeting of the season for the two schools.
Ketchikan (5-4), after Friday’s game, has beaten Houston, Grace Christian, Skagway, Kodiak and Lathrop. The Lady Kings have lost to Sitka, Dimond, Lathrop and JDHS.
JDHS (5-5), after Friday, has beaten Thunder Mountain, Colony, Sitka and Kayhi. The have lost to Wasilla, Lake Washington (Wash.), Kentlake (Wash.), and Colony.
In the past, the Crimson Bears have seemed to play frenetic, forcing passes and committing multiple fouls when not needed, an allowing second or third shots by opponents.
“Before the game we talked about keeping them off the boards,” Boster said. “We also talked about not giving the lane to them for drives.”
Nicole George and Kayla Bolovich were assigned the task of keeping Kayhi’s leading rebounder, Mikayla Brown-Harrison, off the glass. They responded by limiting Brown-Harrison to grabbing just three missed shots.
JDHS’ guards were assigned the task of thwarting Shiree Sells and Jayley Taylor from dribbling through the key. While Taylor had a game high 14 points and Sells added nine, the Ketchikan offense overall was forced to play an outside game, allowing JDHS to dictate action
“We did play sluggish in the first half,” Boster said. “We were outhustled and once again allowed turnovers to plague us.”
The Crimson Bears handled the Lady Kings press easily.
“But once we broke it we would rush and try to force things,” Boster said. “And we were a little slow recovering on defense in the first half. We pretty much gave them uncontested jump shots from the wings.”
In the second half the Crimson Bears had a season low eight turnovers.
“That is a big step in the right direction,” Boster said. “It is a small step, most teams goal is less then 12 a game, but it is a step.
The Crimson Bears continued to struggle from the charity stripe, hitting 12-22, while Ketchikan went 8-14.
“Once again our defense and rebounding won the game for us tonight,” Boster said. “Not so much in forcing turnovers, but in forcing rushed shots and hustling after rebounds.”
Balovich had 9 rebounds, Ari Gross and Marissa Brakes seven apiece.
After a slow first half in which the Crimson Bears could muster only 14 points, they notched 13 in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth.
Trailing 20-14 starting the third period Esra Siddeek went three-for-three from the field and Brakes went perfect from the free throw line as the Crimson Bears made their run.
The Lady Kings scored just 14 points in the second half and when they made a small push in the final minute of play the game rested once again in the soft shooting touch of sophomore Kaitlin Fagerstrom.
With five seconds remaining Fagerstrom hit two free throws to put the Crimson Bears up by three.
“It was a huge confidence builder for her,” Boster said. “And a great way to end the night for the team.”
Siddeek led JDHS with 12 points, Gross had seven, George five, Brakes four, Fagerstrom three, T Jae Garcia and Sierra Tagaban two apiece, Balovich and Amberli Fitka one apiece. Melissa Elliot added six for the Lady Kings, Lizzie Carson three, and Hannah Carson two.
The JDHS JV topped Kayhi JV 34-26. Fagerstrom led with 12 points, Balovich five, Rachelle Roldan four, Tori Fogg, Isabelle Watts, and Fitka three each, Dominique Stitt and Rolonda Scaife two apiece. For KHS JV Cassidy Patton and Sonja Christensen led with eight points.
On Saturday night the Crimson Bears improved to 6-5 with a 44-33 win over the Lady Kings.
The game saw four lead changes, the biggest coming at the end of the third period when Sierra Tagaban hit a three to give JDHS a 23-21 advantage that they never relinquished.
Fagerstrom again showed a reknewed confidence by taking command of the game in the fourth quarter.
Fagerstrom hit a deep trey and tallied nine of her team-high 12 points in the stanza, including two more clutch free throws.
Esra Siddeek added 10 points, George eight, Roldan seven, Garcia three Balovich and Gross two apiece.
JDHS hit 13-23 at the charity stripe, Kayhi went 10-16.
Jayley Taylor led the Lady Kings with 14 points.
The Crimson Bears only had seven turnovers in the second half.
“We are slowly improving in that area,” Bosert said. “That makes a huge difference. Kaitlin had a great game, Ari led us in rebounds, Marissa had five assists and a freshman went into the game in a critical situation and held her own. I am very pleased.”
The JDHS JV fell 34-27 and the C team lost 29-19.
Crimson Bears 39, Sitka Wolves 35
On Thursday night the Crimson Bears varsity had their hands full with 3A power Sitka before clinching a 39-35 win from the charity stripe.
The Wolves have been at the state tournament the past three years and feature 6-foot-3 center Sariah Ady. This season they have claimed victories against Ketchikan, South Anchorage, Grace Christian and Houston. Losses have been to Dimond and now JDHS.
“Ari (Gross) had her hands full,” JDHS head coach Dee Boster said. “Not only is she tall but she is pretty strong. We tried fronting and helping and sagging, and she still got 19 points on us.”
The game was fast paced from the start, with the Crimson Bears again being plagued by turnovers against a scrappy Sitka defense.
“When we were patient and would settle down we handled the ball well,” Boster said. “But when we tried to rush we got ourselves into trouble.”
The Crimson Bears played all out for four quarters. Brakes and Siddeek tallied four points apiece in the opening period to stay tied with Sitka. JDHS trailed 16-15 at the half.
The Wolves went to Ady in the third period and she responded with eight points and drew Gross’ third foul. Tagaban netted two field goals and Fagerstrom hit two from deep to keep the Crimson Bears close at 27-25 starting the final period.
Five different Crimson Bears found themselves at the free throw line in the fourth quarter and JDHS went 8-13 to take the win.
“The kids were really excited about being able to finish a close game with a win,” Boster said. “Tonight our defense won the game for us. Our team defense is a strong point and even though there was some break down in some help defense, we adjusted well and kept enough pressure to end up with the win.”
Siddeek led JDHS with 15 points, Tagaban six, Brakes and Fagerstrom five apiece, Balovich and Fitka four apiece. After Ady’s 19, Sitka’s Megan Reed tallied seven points. JDHS hit 11-21 from the line, Sitka went 8-18.
The Sitka JV topped JDHS JV 43-22. Kovi Sitani had 19 points for Sitka. JDHS’ Toni Kelly led with six, Stitt four, Monica Rivera, Adriana Pintang, and Samantha Heidersdorf three each, Emily Reyes two, and Kathryn Vandor one. JD hit 4-15 at the line, Sitka 5-8.
Up next for JDHS is a rematch with Ketchikan on the road Jan. 27-28.