The Juneau-Douglas High School varsity girls basketball team continued their hot play during a rare trip to Anchorage last weekend, downing 4A opponents East Anchorage and Chugiak with a narrow loss to Colony in-between.
The Crimson Bears' record currently stands at an impressive 8-2, but head coach Lesslie Knight is using Thursday's 45-38 defeat to fuel a long string of practices until their next games at home against North Pole on Jan. 23-34.
"Our team's pretty self-motivated but I think a loss now and then keeps them in check as far as the extra work we still need to put in," Knight said. "We're pretty isolated here in the Southeast, so anytime we can get up north and scout some teams, it's a good thing. Overall, we played pretty well."
Two positive trends Knight noticed in Anchorage were that her squad was communicating on defense - an area that the coach saw as their doom in their first loss to Alexander, Ohio - and they drew enough fouls to enter one-and-one situations in both the second and fourth quarters.
"Free throws make a big difference in most games and we did a real good job of drawing fouls against Chugiak and East," Knight said. "The girls know I'm really frustrated if we're not in the one-and-one by half-time."
Juneau-Douglas also managed to hold all three of their opponents under 50 points, which was their goal early in the season. Knight is upping her expectations after the team's hot start, though, and is setting the new bar at 40 points.
The focus in this week's practices will be boxing out and, as usual, defensive communication. In addition, Knight and her staff will be working on how to best match up with their lone Region V opponent this season, Ketchikan, who they will meet up with on Jan. 30-31.
The team also received good news this week when junior Brittany Fenumiai, who sat out after tweaking her knee in the first half of their opening game last week, was cleared by doctors to rejoin the team.
The girls' junior varsity team will be the only JDHS basketball squad in action this weekend, when they host Wrangell at the school's main gym at 7 p.m. on Friday and 6 p.m. on Saturday.