In his first two games against Thunder Mountain High School this year — both losses — Juneau-Douglas senior forward Erik Kelly shot a combined 7 for 20 at the free-throw line.
On Friday night, in a 49-36 JDHS win over TMHS , Kelly made 8 of 9 free throws, all in the second half.
“Home court hoops,” Kelly said. “I’m used to these rims and ever since that series I was like, ‘I don’t want that to happen again so I’ve been working on (my free throws).”
After scoring just two points in the first half, Kelly scored 16 in the second half for 18 points. Luke Mallinger and Kasey Watts added eight points each in the win for JDHS (8-8, 1-2 SEC).
Luke Clark led all Falcons (8-8, 2-1 SEC) with 11 points and Puna Toutaiolepo added eight off the bench.
TMHS managed just three points in the first quarter and 11 in the second.
JDHS hardly took advantage of the Falcons’ slow start though. The home team hobbled into halftime with a one-point lead after a Luke Mallinger triple in the final minute of the second quarter.
“Thanks to Bryson (Echiverri) for making a 3 so we didn’t get shutout in the first quarter — that would’ve been a first,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “I think there was a lot of tension. Both teams were playing really tense to start. It’s crosstown, it’s conference, it’s a lot of emotion in the game. You could see we missed a lot of shots that I would’ve thought we’d normally made.”
After two lead changes, JDHS took the lead for good on a 20-foot jumper by Kelly late in the third quarter.
The basket spurred a 9-0 Kelly run that bled into the fourth quarter, when JDHS shot 21 foul shots. Kelly made all seven of his free throws in the fourth, but his teammates were just a combined 4 of 14.
The JDHS defense in the fourth quarter made up for it though. They shutout all TMHS scorers in the first and last two minutes of the fourth quarter.
“I like that we controlled the turnovers and we just made plays down the stretch to finish the game,” JDHS Kolby Hoover said.
The win broke a three-game losing streak for JDHS. The 36 total points for Thunder Mountain marked a season-low. The Falcons have lost five of their last eight games.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.