The Juneau-Douglas High School boy’s basketball team improved their season record to 12-1 over the weekend with a series sweep of visiting Kodiak. The wins mean the Crimson Bears have yet to lose to an Alaska team this season.
“That is a pretty nice compliment to our guys,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “We have had some quality wins this year.”
The Crimson Bears speed was put to the test against Kodiak in a down-to-the-wire 59-56 thriller on Friday and a 61-50 win on Saturday.
It appeared the JDHS guard play would be too much for an undersized Kodiak squad on Friday night as Evan Gross scored inside just 10 seconds into the game on a Lance Ibesate assist.
Tony Yadao then tipped a pass in the Crimson Bears press and Alec Calloway tipped in a missed shot for two more.
Kodiak adjusted their press offense by giving guards Jemuel Medina and Josh Obas the dribbling green light and they broke the defensive barrier to feed Austin Frick for two quick scores.
The game became a back and forth affair with JDHS’ Ryan Kelly scoring to end the first period with a 9-8 advantage. Neither team could push the lead past three points and the game was tied 29-29 at the half.
Yadao Calloway collected six of his team-high 19 points in the third period as JDHS held a 45-42 advantage going into the final stanza.
Kodiak’s Tony Will scored all eight of his points in the final period to keep the Bears in the game but bench play from Austin Shoemaker and Gary Speck gave the Crimson Bears a boarding advantage down the stretch.
Ibesate added 11 points for the Crimson Bears, Speck eight, Shoemaker seven, Yadao six, Kelly, Jackson Lehnhart, Phillip Fenumiai and Gross two apiece. Calloway also pulled down nine rebounds.
Kodiak got a game-high 22 points from Jesse Swearingin, Medina added nine, Josh Obas and Elijah Hiner six apiece, Frick four and Josh Bezona one.
Kodiak hit 12-13 form the charity stripe while the Crimson Bears were 11-26 and missed two technical free throws in the final seconds.
After making defensive adjustments throughout the course of Saturday’s game the Crimson Bears stuck with a full court press that took Kodiak out of rhythm.
At one point in the first half JDHS was down by seven and press resulted in a run of three straight scores to close the gap.
“We ended up picking up the tempo a little bit and shot better from the free throw line,” Casperson said. “We had too. They are one of the better high school free-throw shooting teams I have ever seen. They like to beat you off the dribble in the half court, we took that away with our press.”
Kodiak hit 14-16 at the charity stripe on the night while JDHS went 19-26.
With the score tied at 12-12 starting the second period Kodiak outscored the Crimson Bears 12-3 heading into the half.
That was when the Crimson Bears went away from zones and implemented the straight full court pressure. JDHS outscored Kodiak 16-7 in the third period and 30-21 in the final stanza. Crucial to the runs were the board work of Calloway, Shoemaker and Gross. Gross added eight blocked shots to his seven rebounds.
“What Evan doesn’t do offensively for us, he more than makes up for on the defensive end,” Casperson said. “He is the anchor for our defense on that back line. We came out with intensity. We had guys that came off the bench too that really gave us a lift. Gary Speck played huge for us.”
Ibesate led the Crimson Bears with 17 points, Yadao added eight, Shoemaker seven, Aquino Brinson, Fenumiai, and Speck six apiece, Calloway five, Kelly two and Jesse Miller one.
Kodiak was led by Swearingin with 20, Medina added eight Frick and Obas six, Will and Hiner four, and Garcia two.
The Crimson Bears travel north to play at Service on Wednesday, Wasilla Thursday and Friday, and at Palmer on Saturday. JDHS’ lone loss this season has been to Christian Life from Texas.