ANCHORAGE — Oh, to avenge a 54-38 mid-season loss! That was the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears’ goal as they took to the court late Thursday evening in the first round of the 4A Girls state basketball championships at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena against the WPI No. 2 Dimond Lady Lynx.
And that was what they celebrated in a 50-44 shocker that tore the Lynx from the undefeated ranks in Alaska basketball.
“We came out and we had nothing to lose,” Brakes said as her teammates celebrated next to her. “I think we came out and played as a team. We worked hard all week on our defense and our offense and remembered that loss a month ago.”
That “loss a month ago” was seemingly a world away as the Crimson Bears didn’t have a healthy Kaitlin Fagerstrom and Gabi Fenumiai. They did on Thursday night, and they had a fired up Marissa Brakes to lead them and sharpshooter Esra Siddeek finding space on the perimeter.
Fenumiai scored seven points in the fourth quarter and Fagerstrom six as the Crimson Bears gave the Lynx their first loss of the season.
“It was great,” Fagerstrom said. “I heard a lot about them. This is just great. We gave it our all.”
With 24 seconds remaining in the game, senior Sierra Tagaban blocked the shot of Dimond’s Tara Thompson and Kymberlee Kelly hit a free throw for a 48-41 advantage.
With 17 seconds left, the drama continued as Dimond’s Alexis Rogers was fouled on a 3-point attempt. Rogers hit just one of the three foul shots but the Lynx’ Thompson rebounded and was fouled, netting both to pull within four at 48-44.
With 13 seconds remaining Siddeek nailed two charity stripe shots for a game-high 22 points and a 50-44 win.
“Oh my gosh,” Siddeek said after the win. “I am just totally shocked. We gave it our all and that is what really won this game. We played defense and were able to handle the pressure. They beat us earlier in the year. We wanted revenge, definitely.”
After a slow start in which both teams totaled eight turnovers, Fenumiai hit a free throw to break the ice and let loose a floodgate of movement on the court.
Esra Siddeek hit two baskets in a row; Dimond countered with two deep 3s to take a 10-7 score into the second period.
Fagerstrom and Kymberlee Kelly put a spark on the court in the second period, helping Brakes pressure the all and trap in the corners and putting the Crimson Bears on top 21-20 at the break.
Brakes opened the third quarter with two break-a-way layups and Kelly hit three baskets in a row to stay with a hot-shooting Lynx team.
Tied at 32 all with 30 seconds left Siddeek drew a foul on a lay in and hit the free throw to put the Crimson Bears up 35-32 starting the final period.
Fagerstrom was everywhere in the fourth quarter; chasing loose balls, finding rebounds and tying up the Lynx on the dribble. When Dimond tried to double down on Fenumiai, Fagerstrom made them pay from outside.
Fenumiai blocked a shot with six minutes remaining and the Lynx threatening to score inside. Fagerstrom capitalized on the change of possession by nailing her second three of the period.
“Kaitlin is one of our four position players,” JDHS coach Dee Boster said. “And she is a shooter.”
Fenumiai scored again and was fouled and Siddeek hit a layup off a Brakes steal as the Crimson Bears pushed out to a 45-37 lead with 2:35 remaining.
Ione Fischer nailed back-to-back three’s to bring the Lynx within five but Fenumiai scored inside again for a 47-40 advantage.
Clinging to a six-point lead after a Dimond free throw, Fenumiai pulled a key rebound and the Crimson Bears spread the court for a foul with 37 seconds remaining.
“We did exactly what we worked on for a week and a half,” an elated JDHS coach Dee Boster said. “We ran on them because they only have eight players. We attacked the basket and we rebounded well. We did exactly what we worked on.”
The Crimson Bears out-rebounded the Lynx 28-25 and hit 10-of-20 from the charity stripe. Dimond went 9-for-15 from the line.
Fenumiai added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Crimson Bears. Kelly and Fagerstrom scored six apiece with three rebounds; Brakes tallied four points, four rebounds, seven assists and six steals; and Gross two points.
Ione Fischer scored 11 for the Lynx. Karenna Liggon added nine points, Sierra Afoa eight, Thompson and Cole six and Alexis Rogers four. Cole pulled a game-high 14 rebounds.
The Crimson Bears (14-9) play West Valley (24-3) in a 5 p.m. semifinal today. The Wolfpack beat West Anchorage 48-32 earlier on Thursday. The Wolfpack have beaten the Crimson Bears three times this season; 55-29, 44-35 and 39-31.
“Each game was getting closer,” Brakes said. “We can do it again. We can play as a team and win.”
The JDHS boys (18-4) play Lathrop (11-7) at 8 a.m. today with the winner advancing to the fourth/sixth place game on Saturday.
• Contact Sports Editor Klas Stolpe at 523-2228 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.