Friday night’s matchup between the Crimson Bears and Falcons might have been closer than anticipated but on Saturday, Juneau-Douglas showed why many consider it the gold standard of Southeast Conference hoops in 2011.
Holding a 12-10 lead after the first quarter, JDHS broke the game open in the second with a barrage of points off turnovers that left Thunder Mountain reeling in front of the raucous Crimson Bears student section in a 54-29 blowout at Juneau-Douglas High School.
The Bears took advantage of nine Thunder Mountain turnovers in the second quarter alone and outscored the Falcons 23-6 in the frame behind nine first-half points from senior swingman Colin Gozelski and forward De’Andre “Jazz” King. Gozelski finished with 17 points to lead all scorers, while King finished with 13 of his own.
“We weren’t ready for their zone (Friday) night,” Gozelski said. “Saturday night we were able to execute better inside and out, and we had a better shooting percentage.”
The Falcons’ zone defense gave Juneau-Douglas fits on Friday night and for most of the first quarter on Saturday. This time, the Bears were able to make the right adjustments.
“We moved the ball quicker and made more cuts to the middle to open everything up and get the guys moving — catch them off guard,” Gozelski said.
JDHS coach Steve Potter said it’s always nice to play in front of the home crowd, especially after winning a close one Friday night at Thunder Mountain.
“We feel better playing in this gym — our guys just feel more comfortable. We came out, we looked for each other and we went inside and drew some fouls,” he said. “Even though we were missing our free throws again, we still stuck with the plan and it ended up paying off.”
But on Saturday night it was the Bears’ defensive pressure that was the difference. The inexperienced Falcons were never able to recover after being outscored by 17 points in the second quarter.
“Our press really got to them. I think they got comfortable in the first half, and then we started putting a lot of random presses on them,” Gozelski said. “They just weren’t able to get the ball around us.”
Juneau-Douglas switched from a zone to man-to-man defense in the second period and the change seemed to work. After committing just one turnover in the first quarter and finding holes in the Crimson Bears’ zone, the Falcons struggled mightily with Juneau-Douglas’ man-to-man press in the second period.
“(Juneau-Douglas) came out way more aggressive in the second quarter, obviously, looking at the 23-6 run,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “We didn’t step up and stop them, and we just let them take complete control for those eight minutes.”
Blasco said his team did not come out prepared on Saturday as it had the night before on its home court, and the Crimson Bears took advantage.
“You can’t settle for one game the night before. You have to show up to play day in and day out. JDHS showed up to play and we did not,” he said. “That’s one thing we have to learn. This is a competitive league and you better be ready to play.”
Sophomore swingman Keith Ainsworth was the only player in double figures for the Falcons with 10 points. Freshman Matt Seymour was the next closest with seven.
As for whether or not the rowdy environment at Juneau-Douglas affected his young players, Blasco said the atmosphere around the court shouldn’t matter.
“It’s a tough loss because they beat us hard. The environment didn’t bother me at all and I don’t think it should have bothered them,” he said. “JDHS straight up took it to us tonight in every facet of the game. We can’t settle for that.
Juneau-Douglas hits the road next week for an Anchorage road trip Jan. 19-22. Thunder Mountain has the week off.
JDHS edges TMHS
It was the closest game between the two teams in the brief history of the crosstown rivalry, but the result was as familiar as the previous five.
With the score knotted up at 37-37 late in the fourth quarter, the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears went on a key 7-0 run and held off a late Thunder Mountain rally to beat the Falcons 47-43 Friday night at Thunder Mountain High School.
“It was a great game. I mean, obviously, we competed until the very end. I don’t think anybody in town expected a four-point game, and I told the guys before the game that’s how it was going to be,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “We just needed to go out and prove ourselves, and we executed our gameplan perfectly. A couple of plays here and there and it’s our ball game.”
But it was the Bears who executed the best down the stretch. With the game tied at 37 apiece, sophomore forward Phillip Fenumiai came off the bench and promptly hit a baseline jumper from the left side, and followed it with a big 3-pointer that turned a tie game into a five-point contest with five minutes remaining.
A De’Andre “Jazz” King tip-in and driving lay-up from Colin Gozelski pushed the score to 44-37, and that would be enough for the win.
“Any win is a good win. Like I said before, (Blasco) gets his guys to play hard and when you play hard you have a chance,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said. “They had a little better chance than I wanted.”
The Falcons came out in a zone defense to help negate the interior presence and size of the Crimson Bears, and it worked well for most of the game, forcing Juneau-Douglas away from its strong suit.
Thunder Mountain fed off the energy from the crowd, taking a 10-9 lead into the second quarter, but the Bears responded.
Gozelski and King took over in the second, combining for 13 of the team’s 15 points. The two totaled 14 and 11 points on the night, respectively.
“We came out excited, but they took advantage of the opportunity they had and almost had it,” King said. “But we started playing at our own pace, making our moves and calming ourselves down. Simply, we just played our game.”
The Falcons took a one-point early in the fourth quarter on an Ainsworth floater, but Fenumiai’s baseline jumper gave the Bears the lead for good.
Ainsworth scored 11 for the Falcons while freshman Ben Jahn led Thunder Mountain with 13 points.
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