Two 10-0 runs to close the first and open the third quarters doomed Thunder Mountain on Thursday, as the Mt. Edgecumbe Braves blew past the Falcons 74-47 in Juneau.
Thunder Mountain came up short on the defensive end as Mt. Edgecumbe knifed through the lane for easy buckets in building a 32-22 lead at the half, and extending that lead in the third quarter.
“We had no help-side defense,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “We’re not getting back on defense and we’re not seeing the ball. Guys are sticking to their own man and not opening it up and playing team defense at all, and you’re not going to win unless you play team defense.”
Thunder Mountain took an early 3-0 lead after a pull-up jumper by Keith Ainsworth and a Sam Jahn free throw. The Falcons went up 8-4 after a Jahn banker and a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Ainsworth.
Cody Sherman got a stickback inside for the Braves but sophomore Ty Grussendorf drilled a triple for the Falcons for an 11-6 lead. Kacy Green answered with a 3-ball the other other way. Ainsworth’s free throw at the 3:19-mark was all the offense TMHS could muster the rest of the quarter as the Braves closed with a 10-0 run to lead 19-12 after the first.
Senior guard Josh Jones drove the lane and dished to Ben Jahn for a bucket inside, cutting the deficit back to 5, 19-14, but TMHS couldn’t string together a second-quarter run and Mt. Edgecumbe kept getting into the lane for easy scores inside.
Grussendorf hit another 3-pointer from the corner to cut the deficit back to single digits, 31-22, and the Braves led 32-22 at the half after a Savion Waters free throw.
Mt. Edgecumbe went right back
inside to start the second half. Senior Travante Williams scored a floater in the lane and then two straight putbacks, followed by a bucket inside for Cody Sherman and a lay-up for Waters after a Falcons turnover for a 42-22 Braves lead.
“We tried to make the adjustment at halftime to front and it didn’t work,” Blasco said. “We were too slow to beat guys to the block and once a guy gets the ball on the block, they were able to score every time.”
Jones finally made two free throws at the 4:08-mark, and a third Grussendorf triple made it 44-27, but the Falcons got no closer as Mt. Edgecumbe extended its lead to as many as 28, 61-33, and the teams traded scores the rest of the way. “We can’t give up those two 10-0 runs. You control those and you’re back in it,” Blasco said. “And when you’re trying to claw back into it, you can’t just exchange buckets. You have to have the defensive tenacity to want to get a stop. We didn’t do that enough tonight.
“There were too many second and third opportunities. Loose balls, loose rebounds, they were not ours,” he continued. “We did not go after them with the desire to want to get that ball. It’s a continuing, learning process and the guys have to keep competing.”
Williams had 20 points to lead all scorers. Ainsworth led the Falcons with 12 points and three blocks before fouling out with 2:59 to play.
TMHS opens conference play today at 6 p.m. at home against Juneau-Douglas. Blasco hopes to see a packed house.
“It’s always fun to start conference play,” he said. “You have to love a crosstown rival and hopefully these guys can put this behind them and come out ready to play.”