It is time to start playing.
That was the sentiment expressed by Crimson Bears guard Rachelle Roldan in the Juneau-Douglas High School locker room after the team’s third straight loss, a 40-37 set back to the Galena Hawks, in the Doc Larson Roundball Classic in Wasilla.
“She wasn’t mad,” Juneau-Douglas coach Dee Boster said. “She was just matter-of-fact. She said no more excuses about rebuilding and being an inexperienced team. It is time to start playing at the varsity level.”
Only four of the Crimson Bears are used to the relentless action of varsity basketball play: seniors Kaitlin Fagerstrom, Kymberlee Kelly and Tori Fogg and junior Roldan.
Fagerstrom scored 19 points and had 11 rebounds and two steals. Kelly scored 10 points and pulled 11 rebounds with three steals; Fogg had four rebounds and two steals; and Roldan four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“We need to get more people scoring,” Boster said. “We rely too much on Kaitlin and Kymberlee as the main offense. They will continue to do what they do. We just need more players to step up. We are having a really rough time on getting five players on the court that play aggressive. Two people don’t win basketball games, at least not in our situation at this time.”
Galena led 9-5 after the first quarter and JDHS led 19-15 at the half. The Crimson Bears would take the largest lead of the game at 23-15 in the third quarter before Galena tied the game with eight minutes to play. JDHS was outscored 12-7 in the final period.
The Crimson Bears hit just 13-49 from the field, but connected on 10-11 from the free throw line. Galena was 16-45 from the field and 4-5 from the line.
Kacey Jackson added four points for JDHS, while Maddie McKeown and Monika Rivera had two apiece. Sam Heidersdorf had two rebounds and Kallen Hoover, Kacey Jackson, McKeown and Rivera had one each.
Leading Galena with 12 points apiece were Shaina Burley and Sarah Buchanan. Romay Shayen added eight, and Cameroon Reitan and Courtney Carlo four apiece. Buchanan had six rebounds. Burley had six steals and five rebounds.
The Crimson Bears continue to be “too soft on defense,” Boster said.
“We are not lazy,” Boster said. “The kids work hard but they need to cross the line and be aggressive and take chances. We need to stop playing safe. We work hard but we are not playing collectively aggressive. We had some players who play aggressive every moment on the court and that needs to be contagious.”
JDHS also needs to box out and focus on other fundamentals. As an inexperienced varsity team, they are not used to the tempo and struggled with help side defense.
The Crimson Bears had more points off turnovers (21-19) than Galena, more rebounds (36-24), more second chance points (12-5), more free throws 10-4), and more points off the bench (4-0). However, Galena had more 3-point baskets (12-3), meaning they had more open looks from the perimeter, a strength of the Hawks team.
“We have a lot to work on,” Boster said. “We are not at complete panic emergency mode yet but we are going to get there pretty quick if we don’t start improving as a team.”
The Crimson Bears (1-5 overall) had lost to Wasilla 50-28 to open the tournament on Thursday and fell 45-31 to Soldotna on Friday. JDHS will host West Anchorage on Friday and Saturday at 6:15 p.m.
All-tourney selections were, girls: Shayla Johnson, Amanda Hutchins (Wasilla), Julie Litchfield, Kelci Benson (Soldotna), Shaina Burley (Galena) and MVP Katelynn Kerkvliet. Mens: Malik Harris, Gary Jefferson (Archbishop), Tyreke Jennis, Kyle Carlson (Lathrop), Desmond Johnson (east), and MVP Jourdan Grant (Archbishop).