It wasn’t a pretty game but it still counts as a Region V Championship for the Juneau-Douglas High School girl’s basketball team as they over came some first quarter jitters and stopped the host Ketchikan Lady Kings 35-20 on Friday night.
“The first half was awesome,” JDHS coach Dee Boster said. “We played a great game, defensively and offensively.”
After Ketchikan opened the game with a basket by Mikayla Brown-Harrison out of the Lady Kings ‘wheel’ offense, the Crimson Bears went on a 10-2 run to close out the quarter.
Using a smaller and quicker lineup than usual the onslaught started with a Marissa Brakes jumper from the corner, a blocked shot by Kymberlee Kelly on the Lady Kings top scorer Jayley Taylor, and Brakes three pointer followed by a Brakes assist to Gabi Fenumiai inside, a Kaitlin Fagerstrom free-throw and a buzzer beater by Nicole George.
Brakes was crucial in the first half as she, Fagerstrom and Kelly hounded Taylor and minutes into the second period the Lady Kings sharpshooter drew her third personal foul and had to sit down to watch Kelly sink the charity shot.
Esra Siddeek canned another buzzer beater to push the Crimson Bears to 19-6 at the half.
Ketchikan played more aggressive in the second half.
“They picked up their defensive pressure,” Boster said. “But I thought in the second half we handled our selves a little bit better. We proved tonight that we have a couple other kids that can put the ball in the basket and that is important going up to state.”
Kelly buried a three in the third period and Fenumiai notched a pair of hoops inside to offset a scoring binge by Kayhi’s Shiree Sells and Melissa Elliott. Taylor didn’t find the scorebook for the Lady Kings and didn’t get a good look at the hoop until she missed a free-throw at the end of the period with a chance to pull Ketchikan within nine points from a 26-16 deficit.
“We keyed on Jayley (Taylor), Shiree (Sells) and Melissa (Elliott),” Boster said. “I thought we did a heck of a job. We have been working on our jump and help defense and we really did that very well tonight.”
In the fourth quarter Sells came out of the break and buried a three pointer to pull within 26-19. The Lady Kings would only score one more time, a Sells free-throw at the 5:22 mark. Sells’ next shot was blocked by Ari Gross who then followed a missed Crimson Bears shot on the other end for two points. Two more scores inside by Fenumiai, and a Brakes free-throw, the result of Taylor’s fourth foul, put the game out of reach and the Crimson Bears into state.
“It is a great feeling,” Brakes said. “All our hard work paid off. Definitely it was their home court and their crowd was huge and they had a lot of energy, so it was tough to try and stay composed. Usually I don’t’ get to guard Jayley, it was definitely a great opportunity, she has a great shot and it was a challenge.”
Fenumiai lead the Crimson bears with 10 points, Brakes added six, Fagerstrom five, Kelly, Gross and Siddeek four each, T-Jae Garcia three, and George two.
Sells scored eight for the Lady Kings, Elliott, Bailey Lindgren and Brown-Harrison four each.
Ketchikan hit just 2-11 at the charity stripe and JDHS was 4-17.
“Regardless of who we play we have to be ready for it,” Boster said of possible state matchups. “Tonight we are just celebrating on the win and on Monday we will worry about who we play.”
On Saturday the Crimson Bears took southeast bragging rights by stopping 3A champ Sitka 50-44 in the crossover championship game. Fenumiai led JDHS with 26 points, Siddeek added 18, Brakes six, Fagerstrom and Balovich two apiece. Sitka was led by Sariah Ady’s 14, Sid Riggs added nine, Megan Reid eight, Hunter Huddleston five, Kelsie Kubitc and Katina Wathen four apiece.
The Alaska School Activities Association will be announcing brackets, match-ups and game times for all classifications in their March Madness Alaska Selection Show today at 6 p.m. At that time the WPI (winning percentage index) will reveal two at-large teams into each the 4A Boys and Girls State Tournament.
Automatic state berths go to the Southeast Conference winner, the Mid Alaska winner, the Cook Inlet winner and runner up and the Northern Lights winner and runner up. Two additional teams from among the schools in the conferences will be added to the tournament and ranked with the qualifiers using the WPI system.
The WPI measures strength of schedule and how a team does against that schedule. It does not measure margin of victory or game location, only whether a team wins or loses. It is similar to the NCAA’s RPI (ratings percentage index) used in the NCAA tournament selection and seeding. The basic WPI formula is 50% team winning percentage and 50% opponents’ winning percentage. Only games against other Alaskan schools are counted.
At the Region V tournament the Ketchikan Lady Kings were ranked ninth in the WPI and needed to win regions or at least get a win over Juneau in the tourney to be in contention for one of the two At-Large bids to state. The Kayhi loss to Thunder Mountain in the tournament probably dropped them from consideration. The Falcons also needed to win the tourney for a state trip as their WPI was not in the top eight.
The WPI 4A girls standings and overall Alaska won/loss records as of Feb. 29 were: Wasilla 17-1, Dimond 18-0, West Valley 15-3, Soldotna 13-2, Colony 13-8, West Anch. 16-6, Juneau 11-9, Palmer 8-6, Ketchikan 11-8, North Pole 9-9, East Anch. 10-9, Chugiak 10-9, Kenai 8-10, Lathrop 8-10, Kodiak 4-10, Service 8-12, Bartlett 6-13, Homer 1-9, Houston 2-9, South Anch. 3-14, Thunder Mt. 1-15, Skyview 1-9, and Eagle River 1-16.
While JDHS won the Region V title they still may be the eighth seed at the state tourney as the two At-Large selections to be announced today may be higher in the WPI.