Three years removed from a state title, two from a state title game, and one from upsetting an undefeated powerhouse in the first round of the state tourney, this season’s Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears should be the toast of the region.
With 11 returning lettermen there is no reason the 2012-13 Crimson Bears do not capture another Region V Championship.
JDHS went 17-13 last season. Of those 13 losses, three were against Wasilla, three against West Valley, one against Dimond, one against Colony, and one against Ketchikan. All state tourney teams and one that just missed.
At the state tourney the red and black upset undefeated Dimond in the first round 50-44, lost in the semifinals to West Valley 42-35, and then fell to Colony 47-28. West Valley lost to Wasilla in the title game.
The Achilles heels that plagued the first half of last season were turnovers and foul shooting. JDHS was an overly ambitious team committing to passes too quickly and playing a bit out of control. They had stretches of inconsistancy at the charity stripe as well. These were slow fixes through the year and were resolved by the regional and state tournaments. Many naysayers believed JDHS could not compete last season due to prior graduations (8 varsity players and 5 starters), but the Crimson Bears showed that they were more than capable. More improtantly, they began to believe in themselves.
Five returning seniors will help JDHS seek another northern trip. Three were starters and All Conference selections: Esra Siddeek, Gabi Fenumiai, and Marissa Brakes. Siddeek is key to the team as the best shooter and has improved defensively. Fenumiai, who missed the first 11 games of last season with an injury, is nearly unstoppable inside and as a rebounder. Brakes became the top ball handler and controlled the offense. Siddeek and Fenumiai also were selected to the All State team.
Classmates T Jae Garcia, Amberli Fitka, and transfer Emily Winters round out the stellar class. Garcia is quick and a pest on defense and can be an offensive threat. Fitka is a more physically aggressive defender. Winters, who played for Thunder Mountain last season, is a tough defender and not afraid to shoot.
Junior forwards Kaitlin Fagerstrom and Kmberlee Kelly will be depended on for fierceness inside. Fagerstrom should be more offensive minded this year and Kelly more dominant defensively, both will need to be strong rebounders.
Junior posts Ari Gross and Kayla Balovich are prime rebounding threats and junior guard Tori Fogg is tough defensively.
Lone sophomore Rachel Roldan has a well-rounded game and has stepped up as a vocal leader while playing with confidence in her second varsity season.
Head coach Dee Boster and assistants Mary Rehfeld, Maddie Swofford, Brittany Fenumiai and Jim Carson will have numerous effective options and potent combinations that can go onto any floor in the state.
Coach’s comments - The kids are excited about the season and they are a little more confident starting this season than last. We have emphasized that even though we ended up with a successful season we still must work hard and improve. Last year teams overlooked us, this year we would guess we are not overlooked with 11 of 13 varsity players back. We had a year of working and playing together. We believe we can compete.
The JDHS Crimson Bears open the season on Thursday at Palmer and play Friday/Saturday at Wasilla. Their first home stand is in the Capital City Classic Dec. 27-29.