The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team stuck around a lot longer Saturday night than it did Friday.
But in the end the two-time defending state champion East Anchorage Thunderbirds proved too much for the Crimson Bears as the T-Birds completed a two-game sweep with a 62-46 victory Saturday night at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gym. East won 70-52 on Friday night.
"I felt we played better tonight," Juneau center Leon Bus said. "It was a lot closer than the score. They're one of the best teams in the state."
The Crimson Bears (3-2 overall this season) appeared tentative during the early minutes of Friday's game, as they tried to counter East's taller and more athletic players. But things were different on Saturday.
The Crimson Bears seemed to be much more aggressive, matching East (3-2 overall) in rebounding after being dominated on the boards Friday. The Crimson Bears were able to occasionally get a second and even third shot from each trip down the floor on Saturday, a rare occurance on Friday.
"Definitely, they came out strong," East coach Geno Morgan said. "(Juneau coach George) Houston's a good coach and I knew he'd make some adjustments. They were limited to one shot a lot yesterday, but they were getting second and third tries tonight."
Juneau still fell behind early. But this time instead of spotting their opponents their usual 12-15 points to open the game, the Crimson Bears only trailed 7-2. Juneau eventually took its first lead of the weekend, 16-14, on a pair of free throws by Ryan Monagle early in the second quarter. Juneau also led 18-16 before East went on a 9-0 run. But Clay Brown scored the next six points to put Juneau back in the game, making it 25-24 East.
It was 28-25 East at halftime, but Juneau took leads of 29-28 and 31-30 early in the second half. Then it happened. It was 37-35 East late in the third quarter when the Thunderbirds went on a 20-4 run through the middle of the fourth quarter, a run sparked by a breakaway slam dunk from Ricky Brown.
"We stuck with them in the first half, but then we had another letdown," Brown said. "All we can hope for is a chance to meet up with them again next week at the Dimond tournament (the Alaska Prep Shootout on Jan. 11-13)."
"I think in both games we hung with them," Juneau forward James Severin said. "But then they'd go on a run, and both times they'd get dunks to start the run. They're on the opposite side of the bracket at Dimond, but we really want to play them again. They're a good team. But we're going to have to find out what it is that leads to these letdowns."
East used its press on defense for most of Friday's game and the first half Saturday, but Morgan switched to a 2-3 zone defense in the second half Saturday. Juneau struggled with the change, many times passing up an open cutting lane or taking an extra pass when a player had an open 3-pointer.
"We didn't attack the zone at all," Severin said. "We didn't do our plays. We had no one flashing to the basket, and nobody working underneath."
"I think we were more hesitant instead of attacking the zone," Clay Brown said. "A couple of games like this puts everything in reality. It showed us what we need to do to get better, and it makes sure nothing goes to our head. These games were way closer than the scores. People up north will look at the scores and think they were blowouts, but they really weren't."
Clay Brown scored 12 points to lead Juneau and Severin added 11 as the Crimson Bears had a more balanced offense than it did on Friday. Only Curtis Lane, who's been fighting the flu, and Byron Wild, who rolled his ankle before the game, didn't score for Juneau and both of them made significant contributions in other parts of the game.
Ricky Brown, who Morgan said is his best overall player, led East with 18 points Saturday. G.J. Macon, East's 6-foot-8 center, added 15 points with a pair of 3-pointers, and Stevie Moss chipped in with 14 points.
"Coach (Morgan) said a couple of words at halftime, but since we're all seniors we knew we had to pick it up in the second half," Brown said. "They (the Crimson Bears) were working hard, but it's just my jumper started falling tonight after I went something like five for 18 last night. It feels real good to get a couple of wins in a place like this."
T-Birds 70, Crimson Bears 52
In Friday's game, Juneau fell behind 11-2 and 13-4 early in the first quarter. The Crimson Bears stayed close -- about seven to 10 points behind -- until the end of the third quarter, when they trailed 50-40. But East went on an 11-0 run to open the fourth quarter, keyed by a dunk from G.J. Macon, to effectively put the game out of reach.
"I think it started in the beginning," Juneau forward Jake Miller said. "They went on that 12-2 run and we weren't ready for them. It took us awhile to get into the flow. We won't win if we keep spotting teams 15 points. And the 11-0 to open the fourth really took the wind out of our sails."
"We weren't ready to play. We came out too easy against them," Bus said. "Maybe we were intimidated. By the end of the game we were ready to play."
East used its height and speed to full advantage Friday. The Thunderbirds controlled the boards most of the night, and their pressure made Juneau work to get the ball up the floor.
"We're blessed with some fine athletes," Morgan said. "Every year we're the team to beat and everyone's gunning for us, all the time. This was a very important game for us because this is a team we might see at state. We've got to beat them to make a statement to the rest of the state."
Once Juneau got to its basket, the Crimson Bears didn't help matters by shooting 16 for 60 from the floor, a miniscule 27 percent. The Juneau players tried to shoot over the top of the taller Thunderbirds only to have several shots swatted back at them.
"They're long," Miller said. "We just have to use fundamentals. We have to pump-fake to get them up in the air, then go around them."
After the first-quarter run by East, Juneau was able to close back to within four points late in the period, 18-14, and even got to within three points early in the second quarter, 19-16. But every time Juneau made a small run to cut East's margin, the Thunderbirds had an answer and extended their lead back to 10.
East was led by Macon, who scored 19 points including hitting two 3-pointers. Jevon Miller, East's point guard, added 15 points while Moss had 11 and Ricky Brown chipped in 10.
Severin scored 16 points to lead Juneau, which suffered its first loss of the season. Lane added 10 points and Monagle had nine.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
T-BIRDS 62, CRIMSON BEARS 46
Saturdays boys boxscore from Juneau-Douglas High School
EAST ANCHORAGE (62) - Stevie Moss 4 6-7 14, Johnathan Zuker 0 0-0 0, Jevon Miller 1 3-4 5, Derek Laws 0 0-0 0, Ricky Brown 8 2-4 18, Quinncey Heartwell 0 0-0 0, G.J. Macon 4 5-6 15, Yannick Evina-Ze 2 1-2 5, Tom Marriage 0 4-5 4, Joe Hamlett 0 1-2 1, Andre Moss 0 0-0 0, Larry Cook 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 22-30 62.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (46) - Joe Ayers 1 1-2 3, Jon Carlo Malacas 1 0-0 2, Ryan Monagle 1 2-4 4, Julius Junior Cumlat 2 0-0 4, Curtis Lane 0 0-0 0, Leon Bus 2 2-2 6, Clay Brown 4 3-4 12, Jake Miller 2 0-2 4, James Severin 4 3-4 11, Byron Wild 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 11-18 46.
EAST ANCHORAGE 11 17 19 15 - 62
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 10 15 12 9 - 46
3-point goals - East Anchorage 2 (Macon 2), Juneau-Douglas 1 (Brown 1). Fouled out - East Anchorage 0, Juneau-Douglas 1 (Severin). Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - East Anchorage 16, Juneau-Douglas 20.
T-BIRDS 70, CRIMSON BEARS 52
Fridays boys boxscore from Juneau-Douglas High School
EAST ANCHORAGE (70) - Stevie Moss 5 1-4 11, Johnathan Zuker 0 0-0 0, Jevon Miller 6 3-5 15, Derek Laws 1 0-0 3, Ricky Brown 4 0-0 10, Quinncey Heartwell 0 0-0 0, G.J. Macon 7 3-3 19, Yannick Evina-Ze 3 2-4 8, Tom Marriage 1 0-0 2, Joe Hamlett 1 0-0 2, Andre Moss 0 0-0 0, Larry Cook 0 0-0 0. Totals: 28 9-16 70.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (52) - Joe Ayers 1 3-4 5, Jon Carlo Malacas 0 0-0 0, Ryan Monagle 2 5-6 9, Julius Junior Cumlat 0 0-0 0, Curtis Lane 3 2-2 10, Leon Bus 0 0-0 0, Clay Brown 2 2-3 6, Jake Miller 2 0-0 4, James Severin 5 4-6 16, Byron Wild 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 16-21 52.
EAST ANCHORAGE 19 14 17 20 - 70
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 14 13 13 12 - 52
3-point goals - East Anchorage 5 (Macon 2, Brown 2, Laws 1), Juneau-Douglas 4 (Lane 2, Severin 2). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - East Anchorage 1 (Macon), Juneau-Douglas 0. Total fouls - East Anchorage 13, Juneau-Douglas 12.