Fans can expect to see a little more defense in this weekend's Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team's game against visiting Ketchikan.
The Crimson Bears (7-1, 2-0 Southeast) have been working on employing more pressure defense as they try to become one of Alaska's stingiest teams.
"We're really looking to pick up the tempo and be a defensive threat all over the state," JDHS coach Lesslie Knight said. "I personally would like to press and put more pressure on the ball so we have more work to do on defense."
Juneau-Douglas, ranked first state-wide in the first Alaska Sportswriter Poll of the season, is coming off a third-place finish at the Lady T-Bird Classic in Anchorage.
After dropping its first game of the season, 58-51 to Service on Jan. 13, the Bears held East Anchorage to a minuscule 39 points in a two-point victory the following day.
In the loss to Service, Cougars forward Lillian Bullock scored 23 points. In order to prevent that from happening again, JDHS has been concentrating on trying to defend the post area.
"It has been a focus because there are some teams in the state with strong posts, and we'll have to be ready to stop them," Bears guard Talisa Rhea said. "It's just kind of part of the game we're trying to work on."
Overall, Juneau-Douglas has been very solid defensively. The Bears have limited opponents to 42.1 points per game this season.
A key to the Bears' success has been a willingness to employ a pressing defense.
"A lot of times people don't press because they don't want to get their key offensive players in foul trouble," Knight said. "We're willing to take that risk."
One aspect of Juneau's game strategy that should help them succeed has been its willingness to use its entire bench. Knight has routinely used almost everyone on her roster during each game.
"Lexi Garvey, Veronica Lietz, Sophia Smith, Kerstin Kimlinger, Jordan Harvey, they have really long arms and play really hard," Knight said. "Kayla (Harrison), our freshman, she dives on the floor and makes things happen."
With a sweep this weekend of Ketchikan (6-4, 0-2), the Crimson Bears can extend their conference lead to a game over Sitka (6-6, 2-2).
"The region games are important for seeding," Knight said. "Truthfully, the most important thing is to win that final game at regions, whether it takes two games or one, the Southeast will determine it all."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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