A big rebound by Juneau-Douglas High School senior point guard Jackson Lehnhart in the fourth quarter drew the fifth foul on Ketchikan’s hot shooter Brien Auger and the Crimson Bears survived a 60-58 nail biter in the loser-out game of the 4A Region V Basketball Championships at Mt. Edgecumbe’s B. J. McGillis Gymnasium on Thursday.
Senior Gary Speck’s seven rebounds in the fourth quarter and Ainsworth’s first free throw of the game with five seconds left sealed the win.
“We had a great team effort on both sides of the ball against a very determined opponent,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “The Ketchikan kids had a lot of heart and play extremely hard the entire game and today was no exception.”
The Crimson Bears drew two quick fouls on Ketchikan mainstay Malik Alamenzor with just a minute gone in the first quarter but the Kings rallied to take a 16-12 lead at the break seven minutes later.
Back-to-back baskets by Kayhi’s Brien Auger gave the Kings a 21-12 advantage in the first moments of second quarter action.
Keith Ainsworth hit a deep triple and Bruce Jones blocked a Kayhi shot off the glass.
Ketchikan stretched a lead to ten 28-18 with three minutes remaining in the first half when Phillip Fenumiai took a rebound and drove the length of the court to draw a foul and sank both shots at the charity stripe.
Aquino Brinson hit two of his own from the line to bring the Crimson Bears within three points at the break, 30-27.
“I believe the difference in the game was that we were willing and able to match their competitive drive for a full 32 minutes,” Casperson said. “It was truly and entire team effort with everyone contributing at some point throughout the game, which is what we talked about pre-game.”
Fast paced action pushed the third quarter score to 36-32 Kings with just two minutes gone.
Gary Speck followed a Brinson miss to close within two points. After a Kayhi free throw, Brinson scored underneath on a tip pass from Speck and Ainsworth drew a charging call against the Kings for ball possession with 3:36 left in the period.
Ainsworth then cut back door and received a lob pass from Fenumiai for the Crimson Bears’ first lead of the game, 38-37 with 2:39 left in the period.
Brinson drew his third foul of the game to join Speck and Fenumiai on the danger list.
Kable Lervick gave the Kings a three-point lead and Fenumiai drove the floor to cut that margin to one with less than a minute in the third. Kayhi’s Auger was called for his fourth foul on an offensive drive but JDHS could not get off a final shot and trailed 41-40 starting the fourth quarter.
Fenumiai hit two free throws to give the Crimson Bears a one-point lead. Pusich hit two more for a 44-41 advantage for their biggest lead of the game.
In one 10 second stretch Lervick buried a triple for the Kings, Ainsworth dunked on a base line drive to pull the crimson Bears within one and Alex Pihl drove right down the middle to score for the Kings and draw Ainsworth’s fourth foul and a 49-46 Ketchikan lead.
A deep three by Ainsworth off the glass tied the score at 49 but Isaiah Navales came right back to score and earn Adam Empson’s third foul and a Kings lead.
Fenumiai scored on his own follow, Speck on a Fenumiai miss to pull within one and to tie game at 52 from the line with three minutes remaining.
Speck followed with two more charity stripers to give JDHS the 56-54 lead with 2:43 remaining.
Speck hit another free throw to give JDHS the 58-54 lead with 20 seconds remaining and Ketchikan’s Navales drove the floor to cut the lead to two with 11 seconds left.
Ainsworth was fouled and hit two free throws to seal the win and a last second shot by Kayhi’s Malik Almenzor at the buzzer notched the game’s final basket.
“I am proud of our guys,” Casperson said. “But our job is not finished. We will have to replicate today’s focus and desire against Thunder Mountain.”
Ainsworth led the Crimson Bears with 18 points, Fenumiai added 13, Speck and Empson nine apiece, Brinson six, Pusich and Jones two each, and Lehnhart one.
Lervick led the Kings with 12 points, Auger and Navales had 10 apiece, Phil eight, Gass seven, Almenzor six, Colton Paulsen and Mo Bullock two each and Erwin Malabanan one.
The Crimson Bears will play Thunder Mountain at 4:45 today in the championship game. A win for JDHS means both teams will battle again on Saturday. A win for TMHS will be the Falcons first Region V basketball championship.