Juneau boys basketball coach George Houston has another way of saying ``we're just taking it one game at time.''
After suffering their first home sweep in Houston's eight-year tenure last weekend to Wasilla, the Crimson Bears (4-4) travel to Anchorage to play four games in four days. Tonight, Juneau-Douglas High School takes on rising state power Chugiak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday the Crimson Bears meet Service in the opening round of the Seventh Annual Alaska Prep Shootout at Dimond High School.
This weekend Houston said he got a call from former Juneau-Douglas star Carlos Boozer, who now, of course, stars at Duke. Boozer passed on Blue Devil coach Mike Krzyzewski's take on ``we're taking it one game at a time.''
``It's the last game-next game theory,'' Houston said. ``You don't think about where you're going to be at the end of the season, you think about it game to game. First we focus on Chugiak, then we focus on Service.''
Different wording but the same theory, and Crimson Bears' players said they definitely want to get Wasilla out of their minds and just be ready for Chugiak.
``It's not out of us yet, we'll always be thinking about it,'' said senior guard John Blasco. ``But we have to use it as a builder. We have to build on that and improve on it.''
The Chugiak Mustangs (4-2) feature one of the top players in the state in 6-foot-3 inch senior guard Jason Erickson.
``He's their main go-to guy,'' said junior guard Clay Brown, who played against Erickson and the Mustangs last year when he was with the Sitka Wolves. ``He's a guard who can shoot the ball and handle it, and if he has someone smaller guarding him he can post up. If he gets someone bigger he's probably quicker so he can beat him that way. He's a pretty complete player.''
Mustangs coach Kevin Fullmer estimated that Erickson scores around 22 points a game.
The Mustangs also have size and athleticism up front. Senior guard-foward Zach Divine (6-3), junior forward Riley Fitt-Chappel (6-8) and younger brother Adam Fitt-Chappel, 6-4 sophomore forward, present an imposing lineup. Divine hit a clutch shot last year when the Mustangs came back from a 15-point deficit to shock Juneau during the regular season. At state, Juneau handled the Mustangs in the consolation bracket after losing to East.
Blasco recalled playing in Chugiak last year.
``They'll press us, they run, and they're a big team,'' Blasco said.
Eight teams are scheduled to play in the Prep Shootout, including Wasilla. Should Juneau defeat Service Thursday, and the Warriors win their opening-round matchup against Class 1A Buckland, the teams will meet for the third time this season.
``If we beat Service, that'd be fun to get a little payback,'' said senior Evan Tromble.
Other teams in the tournament are Homer, Monroe Catholic, Grace Christian, and tourney-host Dimond - currently the No. 1ranked team in the state.
Houston said he's rearranging the lineup with senior post Rick Carte still out with an ankle injury. Tromble will play point guard to match up with Erickson, while Blasco will start at shooting guard. Junior John Chapman moves into the starting lineup at post.
Tromble had a tough night in Saturday's loss to the Warriors, going 0-10 from the field and earning no trips to the free throw line.
Tromble, who leads Juneau in scoring with 14.0 points a game, said it was just one of those nights.
``I was a little sick before the game but I don't think that had anything to do with it,'' Tromble said. ``I look at it as just one game. It shouldn't happen again.''
Just one game. Those are words coach Houston likes to hear.