Two visiting Class 1A teams from the Kotzebue-based Northwest Arctic Borough School District claimed close victories over the host Juneau-Douglas High School junior varsity boys basketball team Thursday in the first round of Juneau's small schools tournament.
The Noatak Lynx withstood a late Juneau rally to claim a 47-44 victory in the late game, while the Buckland Sissauni won 59-55 in the early game. In girls action, the Juneau JV needed overtime to beat Noatak 48-45 in Thursday's finale and in the early game the Crimson Bears beat the Sissauni 49-36.
In the late boys game, Noatak led by one at halftime but outscored Juneau 12-3 in the third quarter to take a 36-26 lead. Juneau outscored the Lynx 18-11 in the fourth quarter, helped by Noatak's poor 5-for-13 free-throw shooting in the quarter, but it wasn't enough to reclaim the lead.
"We shot terrible from the line," Noatak coach Stan Van Amburg said. "These are our first games so we're still trying to work out some bugs. We've already been weathered out of three games. I was happy to get a win, but I thought we could play better."
Kevin Luther scored 14 points to lead the Lynx (1-0), despite shooting just 4-for-14 from the line. E.J. Howarth and Chuck Barger both added eight points for Noatak. Jon Andrew Malacas led Juneau with 10 points and Mike Foster scored seven.
In the early boys game, the Sissauni (Sissauni is an Inupiat word meaning beluga whale) jumped out to a 37-25 halftime lead and still held a 50-36 advantage entering the fourth quarter. Juneau rallied in the fourth quarter, outscoring Buckland 19-9, but couldn't quite overtake the Sissauni.
Craig Moore scored 21 points to lead Buckland (2-1), while Jason Hadley added 15 and Mike Hadley scored nine. Foster scored 13 points to lead the Juneau JV, with Alex Heumenn and Adam Nelson scoring 10 points apiece and Rob Carte adding seven.
In the late girls game, Katie Staton scored all nine of Juneau's fourth-quarter points as the Crimson Bears came from behind to force overtime. Staton, who finished with a game-high 30 points, then scored three of Juneau's four points in overtime to help clinch the victory. Louisa Jones scored 17 points to lead Noatak (0-1), while Mary Jones added 14 and Robin Howarth scored eight. Latasha McKoy added nine points for Juneau.
"They just backdoored us and we weren't seeing who we had on defense," Staton said. "They were getting behind us."
"We kind of underestimated them," McKoy said. "I'm kind of glad we won. It kind of sucks to lose on your home court."
In the early girls game, Juneau only led 16-14 at halftime but pulled away in the second half. Juneau's JV girls used a split squad system so none of the players saw action in two games (the boys used the same roster for both games and coach Steve Potter substituted freely).
Alida Bus scored 10 points to lead Juneau, with Krista Staveland adding nine, and the duo of Angie Healy and Kendri Cesar eight points apiece. Corita Thomas scored 17 points to lead Buckland (1-2) and Dora Hadley added eight points.
The tournament continues today with two morning games and two afternoon games. The defending Class 2A state champion Angoon boys open their season against 1998 Class 1A state champ Buckland at 10 a.m. and the Angoon girls play Buckland at 11:45 a.m. The Skagway boys, who are ranked No. 1 at the Class 2A level in the current Alaska Sportswriters High School Basketball Poll, play Noatak at 4 p.m. and the Skagway girls play the Lynx at 5:45 p.m. Juneau's varsity girls host the Service Cougars at 8 p.m.
On Saturday, the Angoon boys play Noatak at 9 a.m. and the Angoon girls play Noatak at 10:45 a.m. Skagway's boys play Buckland at 12:45 p.m. and the Skagway girls play the Sissauni at 2:30 p.m. The Juneau JV boys play Angoon at 4:15 p.m. and the Juneau JV girls play the Eagles at 6 p.m. The Juneau varsity girls again host Service at 8 p.m. Saturday night.