The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team had its chances to beat the Wasilla Warriors during Thursday's opening round of the Alaska Prep Shootout at Anchorage's Dimond High School.
But turnovers and missed shots kept the Crimson Bears from winning as Wasilla claimed a 57-50 victory.
"We had some chances in the fourth quarter, but I think we rushed some shots instead of working for a better look," Juneau coach George Houston said. "We turned it over 17 times to their nine, and we had some shots that didn't fall."
The loss was Juneau's first of the season and it dropped the Crimson Bears into the consolation side of the tournament bracket. Juneau (4-1 overall) will play Colony at 4:45 p.m. today with the winner advancing into Saturday's 3:45 p.m. fourth-sixth place game and the loser dropping into the 2 p.m. seventh-eighth place game. The championship game is at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday.
Against Wasilla (3-2), a team considered one of the favorites to win the state title this year, Juneau jumped out to an early 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. But the Warriors started chipping into the advantage, finally taking a 27-26 lead into the halftime intermission after 7-foot center Ray Schafer dunked a shot at the buzzer.
Wasilla extended the lead to 45-37 at the end of the third quarter as Schafer received help on the perimeter from Aaron Roth's two 3-pointers and a 3-pointer by Buddy Bailey. Juneau trailed by five to nine points for most of the fourth quarter, but the Crimson Bears closed the margin to 53-50 with 1 minute, 43 seconds to go when Bryan Hamey hit a pair of free throws.
The Warriors worked about a minute off the clock, only to have Juneau's Adam Nelson make a steal with 38 seconds left. But after a timeout, Roth stole a Juneau pass by Joe Ayers intended for Nik Hura, and Bailey made two free throws to make it 55-50. Sterling Henderson missed a 3-pointer for Juneau, Schafer made two free throws for a 57-50 Wasilla lead, and then Ayers and Nelson both missed 3-pointers at the end for Juneau.
"Bailey took over in the fourth quarter," Houston said. "He was only 5-for-18 for the game, but all of that was in the fourth. He set some screens for Schafer and he came off screens with open looks. We were outscored 18-11 in the third quarter and that hurt us because we were always fighting back."
Schafer, who will play for the University of Oregon next year, scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Wasilla, which will play Bartlett in today's 7 p.m. semifinal. Bailey had 15 points and Roth scored 11 for the Warriors.
Alex Heumann scored 13 points to lead Juneau, while Hamey added 10 points and six rebounds and Byron Wild scored eight points and grabbed six boards. Despite facing a Wasilla frontline that went 7-foot, 6-7 and 6-7, the Crimson Bears were only outrebounded 33-32 for the game. Juneau's two tallest players - Wild and Nelson - are both 6-5.
"They adjusted their size more to us than we adjusted to them," Houston said of Wasilla, which frequently went with a three-guard lineup while alternating between 6-7 forwards Luke Schafer and Mason Heibel.
"I hate to lose, but if we're going to lose I'd rather do it now while I can still teach from it," Houston said. "You learn some things about your team in close games. The kids worked really hard. They played really hard."
Juneau split two regular-season games with Wasilla last year, then beat the Warriors 56-53 in overtime in the Class 4A state tournament semifinals. The Crimson Bears also played Colony three times last year, beating the Knights twice in Juneau (70-52 and 57-50) and again 51-38 in the first round of the state tournament.
On Thursday, defending state champion Bartlett crushed Colony 78-48 behind 18 points from Zack Bowman, 15 points from Doug Hardy and 14 points and seven steals by Mario Chalmers. Landon Swank scored 18 points to lead Colony, with Clay Hotchkiss adding 12 points and Joe Reza grabbing seven rebounds. Colony forward Jason Christensen, who had been averaging a double-double earlier this season, was not in the lineup.
"Colony is really a better team than it showed tonight," Houston said. "They got down early against Bartlett and just rolled over. Bartlett can do that to teams with its press."
In Thursday's other first-round games, the host Dimond Lynx edged the Class 3A Anchorage Christian Schools Lions 42-39 and the East Anchorage Thunderbirds knocked off the Lathrop Malemutes 69-51.
Bennie Holt had 22 points and nine rebounds to lead East, the only team in the tourney that didn't make the state tournament last year, while former Angoon player Ozelle Jamestown had 16 points and four steals. Willie Blackburn scored 13 points to lead Lathrop.
Warren Lewis led Dimond with 12 points, while Kris Hodges had nine points and David Lindoff added eight points and six rebounds. Zack Madren scored 16 points to lead ACS, while Todd Alden had 13 points and Hunter Hegge grabbed 10 rebounds.
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WARRIORS 57, CRIMSON BEARS 50
Thursday's boys game from Dimond High School
WASILLA (57) - Cody Schierman 1-5 2-2 4, Buddy Bailey 5-18 4-4 15, Aaron Roth 3-9 2-2 11, Robbie Champion 0-0 0-0 0, Greg Gray 0-1 0-0 0, Ricky Cunningham 0-2 0-0 0, Adrian Furman 0-0 0-0 0, Matt Crane 0 0-0 0, Luke Schafer 3-4 0-2 6, Mason Heibel 1-1 0-0 2, Ray Schafer 8-12 3-7 19. Totals: 21-52 11-17 57.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (50) - Sterling Henderson 2-9 2-2 6, Alex Heumann 4-8 2-2 13, Nik Hura 2-5 0-0 4, Bryan Hamey 3-5 3-4 10, Joe Ayers 1-7 1-2 3, David Jones 0-2 0-0 0, Byron Wild 4-6 0-0 8, Kolt Garvey 1-1 0-1 2, Adam Nelson 2-4 0-0 4. Totals: 19-47 8-11 50.
WASILLA 7 20 18 12 - 57
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 14 12 11 13 - 50
3-point goals - Wasilla 4-11 (Roth 3-5, Bailey 1-4, Schierman 0-1, Gray 0-1), Juneau-Douglas 4-19 (Heumann 3-6, Hamey 1-2, Nelson 0-1, Jones 0-1, Hura 0-2, Henderson 0-3, Ayers 0-4). Rebounds - Wasilla 33 (R. Schafer 12, L. Schafer 5), Juneau-Douglas 32 (Wild 6, Hamey 6). Assists - Wasilla 9 (Schierman 4), Juneau-Douglas 11 (Hamey 3). Turnovers - Wasilla 9 (Bailey 3), Juneau-Douglas 17 (Hamey 4). Blocked shots - Wasilla 1 (R. Schafer 1), Juneau-Douglas 3 (Henderson 1, Hamey 1, Wild 1). Steals - Wasilla 11 (Schierman 4, R. Schafer 3), Juneau-Douglas 5 (Wild 2, Nelson 2). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Wasilla 15, Juneau-Douglas 16.