A wild buzzer beater 3-pointer from the visiting West Valley Wolfpack sent Thursday’s game at Juneau-Douglas High School into overtime, pitting two possible state tournament foes against each other for a barn burner finish in early-season prep basketball.
The Crimson Bears — trailing nearly the entire game — came out on top 77-74 in extra time, marking their second win over the Wolfpack in as many nights.
Building his team “comes down to getting experience like this,” JDHS coach Robert Casperson said. “They learned how hard it is to win against a team like West Valley two nights in a row.”
Up 65-63 with just 10 seconds left in the game, Juneau-Douglas senior guard Ulyx Bohulano split a pair of double-bonus free throws to give the Crimson Bears a 3-point lead.
West Valley leading scorer, senior guard Jaden Whiteside, took the ball down the court and pulled up from distance to tie the game — but his shot bounced off the rim. Wolfpack guard Dylan Erhart recovered the offensive board with just three seconds left and shoveled a pass to senior Isaiah Winfrey on the left wing.
Standing nearly out of bounds, Winfrey put up an off-balance desperation heave over two defenders — his shot arcing nearly to the ceiling and in to tie the game 66-66, pushing the contest to four extra minutes.
“It felt amazing, I didn’t know what was going through my mind,” Winfrey said.
Whiteside, who scored 23 on the night off of four 3-pointers, four field goals and a 3-3 mark from the line, said he loves these kinds of games.
“Playing in these kinds of games is always fun, honestly, though it’s not fun coming out on the losing side,” Whiteside said, adding, “We are going to come together as a team.”
JDHS was led in the scoring column by senior Bryce Swofford with a game-high 26 points off eight field goals, a 3-pointer and a 7-9 performance from the charity stripe. Junior Erik Kelly followed Swofford’s lead with 20, with Bohulano contributing 11 in his most offensively aggressive performance to date.
Behind Whiteside, the Wolfpack were led in defeat by guard Dylan Erhart with 13 and captains Cornelius Mingo Jr. and Isaiah Winfrey with 12 each.
Kelly nailed a couple of and-1 free throws in overtime to steal momentum back and give JDHS a 7-point lead with just two minutes left. A couple free throws and an and-1 play from Whiteside pulled the game within two points before Swofford fouled out with just a minute to go.
A goal tending call on a Whiteside three pointer gave the Wolfpack hope to close the game, but West Valley couldn’t harness the heroics in the closing seconds, with a half court shot just barely missing the net to close the game 77-74.
Possibly overlooked by the wild finish, reserve player Luis Lozada’s crucial effort on a couple of rebounds, buckets and steals at the beginning of the fourth helped the Crimson Bears steal momentum back.
JDHS goes on a “circus road trip,” in Casperson’s words, for games in the next two weeks against Ben Eilson High School, Soldotna, Lathrup, Chugiak, Houston and Palmer before returning for homecoming games against Ketchikan High School at 7:15 p.m. Jan. 27 and 28.
Those will be JDHS’ first conference tilts of the season.
CRIMSON BEARS 77, WOLFPACK 74
Juneau-Douglas 17 7 16 26 11(OT) —77
West Valley 17 13 18 18 8(OT) —74
Juneau-Douglas (77) — Swofford 26, Kelly 20, Bohulano 11, Watts 7, Milligan 5, Hamrick 4, Lozada 4
West Valley (74) — Whiteside 23, Erhart 13, Mingo Jr. 12, Winfrey 12, Ward 4, Fields-Colbert 4, Davis 2, Campbell 2, Peter 1, Keeton 1
Free throws — Juneau-Douglas 22-33, West Valley 15-20
3-point goals — Juneau-Douglas 5, West Valley 7
Team fouls — Juneau-Douglas 18, West Valley 24
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