In wins and in losses, the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team has not had many close, down-to-the-wire games this season.
And that inexperience may have cost the Crimson Bears on Wednesday night as they fell on the road to the undefeated Chugiak Mustangs, 51-49.
"It was back and forth, one points, two points, all the way to the end," coach Lesslie Knight said by phone from Anchorage this morning.
Before Wednesday's game, Juneau (5-4) had really only been in one see-saw game this season - a 54-49 victory over Lathrop in December that saw Juneau rally from a five-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
Knight said that against the Mustangs (7-0), the Crimson Bears were a little unsure of how to manage a close game with the clock running down and made some mistakes in the closing minutes. One focus for upcoming practices will be running situational plays in late-game scenarios, she said.
Juneau was led on offense by senior forward Danielle Larson, who started slow in the first half but finished strong in the second for a game-high 24 points, including 8-of-9 free throw shooting. Senior Amy Neussl chipped in 15, including three 3-pointers, but was held in check by the Chugiak defense in the second half. Junior Kendri Cesar scored seven points for Juneau.
Chugiak, ranked second in the state in the first basketball poll of the season, had just one player score in double figures - Elyse Hartman scored 13 points - but a total of nine Mustangs players contributed points. Chugiak hit six 3-pointers in the game, including three by Hartman.
Highly-touted Chugiak senior guard Erica Putnam, a 6-footer who can also play in the post, hit some key shots late in the game, but was held to eight points for the night.
"We held Putnam to eight, so that was a good accomplishment," Knight said. "Heather (Dillon) was instrumental in shutting down Putnam. She and Tash (Letasha McKoy) were in charge of guarding her."
Knight said junior Alida Bus also made some important contributions on defense.
Juneau scored just six points in the first - on two Neussl 3-pointers - and trailed 25-19 at the half. In the third quarter, Larson - who had been held to six points in the first half - scored 11 points as the Crimson Bears narrowed the Mustangs' lead to one.
Chugiak outscored Juneau 18-17 in the fourth for the two-point margin of victory.
The Crimson Bears continue their Anchorage swing with the East Anchorage T-Bird Classic starting tonight. Juneau will play the Colony Knights at 6 p.m.
Knight said Colony was at Wednesday's game to scout the Crimson Bears.
Juneau will play Colony again in the T-Bird tourney at 6 p.m. Friday, and the teams will conclude the road trip with a Saturday night game against East.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at email@example.com.
MUSTANGS 51, CRIMSON BEARS 49
Wednesday's girls boxscore from Chugiak High School
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (49) - Alida Bus 0 0-1 0, Julie Heard 1 0-0 2, Kendri Cesar 3 1-1 7, Heather Dillon 0 0-0 0, Mary Rehfeld 0 0-0 0, Amy Neussl 5 2-2 15, Danielle Larson 8 8-9 24, Letasha McKoy 0 1-2 1, Ashley Larson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 12-15 49.
CHUGIAK (51) - Courtney Waters 2 1-3 5, Amanda Sack 0 2-2 2, Heidi Bjornstad 0 0-0 0, Elyse Hartman 4 2-2 13, Naomi DuCharme 1 0-0 3, Kelsey Griffin 3 1-2 7, Tenee Williams 1 0-0 3, Ashley Adams 2 0-0 4, Amber Starbard 3 0-1 6, Erica Putnam 2 3-4 8. Totals: 18 9-14 51.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 6 13 13 17 - 49
CHUGIAK 10 15 8 18 - 51
3-point goals - Juneau-Douglas 3 (Neussl 3), Chugiak 6 (Hartman 3, DuCharme 1, Williams 1, Putnam 1). Fouled out - Juneau-Douglas 1 (Neussl), Chugiak 0. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Juneau-Douglas 14, Chugiak 14.