Juneau girls basketball players spent much of their weekend home games against Bartlett as researchers, trying out new offensive plays and defensive schemes.
But the Crimson Bears' biggest discovery may have been the need to maintain their intensity, regardless of the opposing team's record.
Juneau demolished winless Bartlett 73-27 on Friday behind 29 points from senior Mary Rehfeld. But the Crimson Bears lapsed a bit on Saturday, beating the Golden Bears 52-35 in a game that stayed close into the fourth quarter.
"If you're going to go anywhere, you can't lighten up," Juneau coach Lesslie Knight said of her team's effort on Saturday. "Your second day has to be as good as your first day. You don't get second chances."
Juneau (4-1 overall) used the weekend series as a warm-up for tough games yet to come against Anchorage schools.
"It was a good chance for us to work on different defenses," senior Kate Potter said. While the Crimson Bears can experiment in practice, it's never the same as a game because "when we practice against each other (everyone) knows the plays."
Friday's big lead allowed the Crimson Bears to run new plays at will. But Saturday's game was, at times, a struggle by Juneau to stay out in front.
The Crimson Bears led 16-5 after the first quarter and were ahead by as many as 15 points - 21-6 - in the second period. But Bartlett clawed back into the game with three 3-pointers in a 90-second span, capped by senior Tiffany Gann's trey with 3:18 to go that cut Juneau's lead to six, 23-17. The Crimson Bears led 25-17 at the half.
The Golden Bears stayed close through the third quarter, as two free throws by senior Lauren Lewis cut Juneau's lead to 28-25 midway through the period. Juneau led by seven entering the fourth.
"Everyone was on top of their game last night," Potter said Saturday. "(Today) it was up and down."
Rehfeld gave Juneau more security in the final period with successive 3-pointers - the first from the right corner, the second from the left, both off assists from sophomore Talisa Rhea - that put the Crimson Bears up 44-35 with 4:20 to play. Juneau went on an 11-0 run to end the game, including a layup by Rhea after she stole the ball and ran the length of the court.
Rhea finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals for Juneau, while Rehfeld scored 12 points and junior Jordan Harvey chipped in 10. Rehfeld, senior Ashley Larson and freshman Nicole Fenumiai had five rebounds apiece for Juneau. The Crimson Bears won the team rebounding battle 41-24.
Juneau players see Bartlett's persistent play as a precursor of games to come.
"The Anchorage schools are going to be very intense this season," Rehfeld said. "They're going to keep going until the buzzer."
Bartlett coach Karine Wheeler was pleased with the way her team responded on Saturday after Friday's loss.
"They had a lot more confidence (and) they got their shots off," Wheeler said of her players, adding that they needed to build more endurance to stay with the Crimson Bears. "Ashley Foe picked it up, and the defensive play by Jessica Jeans made the whole difference."
Foe, a 5-foot-1 sophomore, led the Golden Bears (0-4 overall) with 15 points in Saturday's game, while junior Shay Honeycutt chipped in seven points.
On Friday, Juneau jumped to leads of 17-7 after the first quarter and 32-15 at halftime, and sealed the game with a 24-2 run in the third quarter.
Rehfeld drilled three 3-pointers on her way to 29 points in the game, the highest total for a Juneau player since Danielle Larson scored 27 points in December 2002.
"My shot felt better than it had in a long time," Rehfeld said. "We were just getting open, and our teammates were looking (to pass). We were really aware."
Harvey added 16 points for Juneau, including a 3-pointer at the final buzzer. With time running down - and the Crimson Bears still working on offensive plays - Juneau junior Sophia Smith passed outside to Harvey, whose high, arcing shot hit nothing but net.
"I saw the clock at two seconds, and I was thinking I had to shoot it," Harvey said. "I was calm. It was a normal 3-point shot."
Harvey had seven rebounds, while Rhea scored five points and dished out seven assists for Juneau. The Crimson Bears outrebounded the Golden Bears 50-23.
Foe scored seven points and junior Rachele Campbell added six for Bartlett.
Boxscores from this weekend's games are on the Local Sports Page.
The Crimson Bears will get to put their new plays to work this week as the varsity and junior varsity squads head north for a series of games in Anchorage.
The two Juneau teams will play at Service on Wednesday evening before playing in the 20th annual Lady T-Bird Classic at East Anchorage High School from Thursday through Saturday. More details on the trip will run later this week in the Empire.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at email@example.com.