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The Crimson Bears took a big early lead Friday before Ketchikan rallied from the free throw line in Southeast Conference girls' basketball, sinking Juneau-Douglas 46-43 at JDHS in the first of four big-time matchups between two of the state's top girls' basketball teams.
Juneau-Douglas (5-1, 2-1) held Ketchikan (8-1, 1-0) to two first-quarter points and just 11 in the first half before wilting in the third quarter. The Bears led 20-11 at the break before the Kings stormed back with 22 third-period points as JDHS struggled to get anything going offensively until the final minutes of the game.
The Bears nearly pulled off a miraculous comeback, though, after trailing by as many as 11 in the fourth quarter.
Down 41-30, senior forward Annette Highley went to work inside, scoring an old-fashioned three-point play, followed by two free throws from junior guard Karli Brakes after a steal. Highley then hit two more free throws, followed by a Kings turnover and a Brakes banker in the lane to make it 43-39, Ketchikan, with less than a minute to play.
Crystal Blair made one of two free throws the other way - the only Kings miss from the line in the fourth quarter - but Brittany Fenumiai stuck back a missed 3-pointer by Mahlet Tingley, and Tingley then got a steal, setting up a third-chance bucket inside by Highley to cut the deficit to one with just eight seconds to go.
On the ensuing inbound, the Bears trapped but didn't foul to stop the clock, and Kathleen Reno broke free for a lay-up at the buzzer to set the final score.
"What we had discussed was to contain them, trap, double team, pull everybody up and just keep one back. If you don't get the ball within five seconds, you foul," coach Lesslie Knight said of the Bears' last-ditch strategy. "The killer for us was that we never got to the free throw line. We never got to the one-and-one in the first half. We went down to Ketchikan last year for regions and looked exactly the same - especially in the fourth quarter - where no one wants to shoot, and no one wants to drive. You gotta want to play.
"It's frustrating when your shooters don't want to shoot the ball."
First-year Kings coach Kelly Smith said his girls kept their cool after struggling early, though he lamented the fact they took just 28 shots compared to theBears' 52.
"We've been focusing a lot on ball control and some clock management stuff," he said. "Twenty eight shots is not enough because our goal is to put up 60 a game. Juneau plays so well defensively. We only had 11 points in the first half, but we just kept plugging away and things started falling for us. Once we go that little bit of momentum, we focused on that clock management."
Taylor Larson was unstoppable early - before she got into foul trouble - scoring the first five points of the game, the first basket coming off a dish from Fenumiai, the second on a stickback of a Sarah Tarver miss before making a free throw.
The Bears took a 7-0 lead after Brakes deflected a pass and went the other way for a stop-and-pop deuce underneath. A Highley steal led to a pull-up jumper for Fenumiai after a nice ball fake for a 9-0 lead.
The Kings finally got on the board after Ciara Patton scored inside off an offensive rebound at the two-minute mark, and the Bears led 11-2 at the end of the first quarter when Fenumiai buried a long jumper from the corner.
Blair turned a Bears turnover into a deuce inside to start the second quarter, but was called for a charge on the ensuing possession. JDHS turned the ball over on its first four possessions of the second period and the Kings came away with four points to cut into the deficit.
Blair worked inside for a tough banker off the glass to further cut into the lead as the Bears' offense struggled to going, and two Edwardson free throws made it an 11-10 game with 4:47 left in the first half.
Hannah Swofford finally scored inside off a Brakes dish at the 4:40-mark, and Fenumiai splashed a 17-footer after a drive and kick by Brakes to push the lead back to five, 15-10, JDHS.
After not scoring for nearly three and a half minutes to start the second quarter, the Bears closed with a 5-0 spurt, including a runner in the lane by Fenumiai and a tough basket inside for Larson off a dish from Brakes for a 20-11 JDHS lead at the break.
Fenumiai and Larson had eight points apiece in the first half to pace the Bears.
JDHS went right back to Larson inside to start the second half, and a stickback by Highley doubled up the Kings, 24-12.
A 6-2 spurt by Ketchikan cut into the lead, but Tingley drilled a long jumper to push it back to eight, 28-20, but the Kings kept coming.
Blair again faked a pass and went up for a score inside, Edwardson stuck two free throws and Patton drilled a 3-pointer from the wing, and it was a three-point, 28-25 game with the Bears clinging to the lead.
Junior guard Olivia Henderson ended the drought with a pull-up jumper, but Edwardson scored four straight to make it a one-point, 30-29, game.
Patton tied the game at 30 with a free throw as the fouls began to mount on JDHS, 8-2 at that point, and Blair drilled a dagger of a 3-pointer just before the buzzer to give the Kings their first lead of the game, 33-30, heading into the final eight minutes.
Ketchikan continued to stretch its lead as the Bears couldn't buy a bucket. Edwardson hit two free throws and Reno scored a lay-up on the break for a 37-30 Kings lead.
Ketchikan was content to play keep away, forcing the Bears to foul with two minutes left, putting the Kings at the line in the bonus.
And they did not miss many, going 9 of 10 from the line in the fourth quarter.
Edwardson led all scorers with 15 points, and Blair added 14.
Fenumiai, Larson and Highley were the only Bears who didn't struggle from the field, combining to score 31 of their 43 points. JDHS shot an abysmal 9-for-31 in the second half, a 29 percent clip, and Tarver failed to score, going 0-for-5 from the field.
"That hurts," Knight said. "They have to be more productive for us to have more success. We missed out (Friday)."
The JDHS JV rolled to a 40-15 victory on Friday night behind 12 points from Karissa Jackson. Nicole George and Malin Murray each added eight.