The Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears girl’s basketball team stopped a determined Thunder Mountain Falcons team 61-54 to capture their fourth straight Southeast Region V 4A Girl’s Basketball Championship on Friday at Mt. Edgecumbe’s B. J. McGillis Memorial Gymnasium.
“Hats off to Thunder Mountain,” JDHS coach Dee Boster said. “They came out ready to play and played a heck of a game. I am just proud of our girls for not giving up and not overlooking the Falcons. It was fun to see how we reacted to the competitiveness.”
The Falcons took the opening tip and fought hard and battled true throughout the game.
Deep triples by senior Jonelle Staveland and junior Micheala Demmert helped keep TMHS in a 12-12 first quarter tie.
JDHS senior Marissa Brakes tallied four points in both the first and second quarters and juniors Ari Gross and Kaitlin Fagerstrom score six apiece in the first half and played tough defense throughout to give the Crimson Bears a slim 24-20 advantage at the break.
“Just overall one heck of a game,” TMHS coach Tanya Nizich said. “Our girls played fantastic and left it all out on the floor.”
The Falcons game plan was to get JDHS center Gabi Fenumiai in foul trouble.
“We did that,” Nizich said. “The game was a battle.”
Gross drew praises from coach Boster for stepping up with Fenumiai on the bench.
“She came off the bench, and normally a role player, she had some big shoes to fill,” Boster said. “She played all four quarters. She is overlooked a lot but she really takes the pressure of Gabi inside and tonight she got the job done.”
Gross tallied six points in the four quarter as seven Crimson Bears put the ball it the basket.
With 4:23 remaining the Crimson Bears were still hanging on to a slim 50-42 lead.
A careless turnover gave the ball back to the Falcons.
A carless TMHS pass gave the ball back to JDHS.
Brakes spread the court, pointed where a player should go, drove to the middle and dished off for a score. Falcons Sarah Morris hit a deep three to close the gap again.
Staveland tallied 10 of her game-high 22 points in the final stanza and Ava Tompkins four of her 10 game points, but the Crimson Bears hit 10-13 from the charity stripe in the stanza (15-21 for the game) and held on for the win. The Falcons hit 10-15 at the line. Demmert added eight points, Morris six, Ashley Young four, Shayla Reeves and Noe Maka two apiece.
Brakes led the Crimson Bears with 15 points, Gross added 12, Fagerstrom 11, Fenumiai and Kayla Balovich eight apiece Kymberlee Kelly five and Amberli Fitka two.
“We came out in the second half and the kids decided they were going to play a little harder,” Boster said. “I told them that Thunder Mountain had come out and outhustled us in the first half.”
The Crimson Bears next played the Sitka Wolves in the 3A/4A southeast crossover championship game for trophy-less bragging rights. The Wolves beat Mt. Edgecumbe 35-32 for the region title and trip to state on Friday.
JDHS was hardly slowed down by the over matched Wolves and took a 13-8 first quarter lead and led 21-12 at the half.
The Crimson Bears held the Wolves to just four points in the second and third quarters and were up 32-16 starting the final stanza and cruised into a 45-26 win.
Fenumiai tallied 11 points for the Crimson Bears, Gross seven, Tori Fogg and Kelly six each, Fagerstrom and Fitka four apiece, T-Jae Garcia three, Balovich and Brakes two each. JDHS hit 5-12 at the charity stripe, Sitka went 7-10. Sophia Mudry, Maralelia Romine and Ellie Cagle had six points each for the Wolves, Hailey Denkinger five, Kyla Young two and Kalene Koelling one.
Both teams will now prepare for their respective state tournament brackets at Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena March. 21-23.