When the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team found itself trailing the Colony Knights by eight points after the first quarter Thursday, Juneau coach Lesslie Knight pulled out just the right motivational tool.
The threat of an early-morning practice today.
"Coach Knight said we better pick it up or else we'd have to get up early," Juneau junior forward Letasha McKoy said.
McKoy and her teammates responded well, as Juneau rallied to tie the game at halftime and pull away in the second half for a 48-39 victory over Colony at the T-Bird Classic at East Anchorage High School.
The Crimson Bears (6-4) were led by 14 points apiece from McKoy and senior Danielle Larson. Senior Amy Neussl added 12.
Colony's Siena Locke led the Knights (5-5) with 14 points.
Knight said the Crimson Bears started the game very passive. She thought it might be due to the East Anchorage gym being dead-quiet compared to a Juneau home game.
"Our kids are used to coming out all fired up," Knight said. "It was a morgue."
But with Knight's motivation Juneau turned the tables in the second quarter, doubling up on Colony by a 16-8 margin to enter halftime in a 24-24 tie with the Knights.
Sophomore Mary Rehfeld said the Crimson Bears got fired up during the intermission.
"At halftime we had this burst of energy," she said. "Everyone was getting pumped up, because we knew we could win the game if our hearts were there."
The Crimson Bears built a 34-31 lead after three quarters, aided by a 3-pointer from McKoy. In the fourth, Neussl scored six points and McKoy added four to help Juneau pull away for its nine-point margin of victory.
Junior Heather Dillon helped spark Juneau in the second half with 12 rebounds, but Knight said the team still has work to do on picking up more boards.
"Everyone is sprinting back on defense because we don't want to give up an easy lay-up, so we don't get many offensive rebounds," Knight said.
Colony had scouted Juneau in their first game of the road trip, a 51-49 loss at Chugiak on Wednesday, and the Knights' game plan shut down much of Larson and Neussl's offensive production.
"It was nice that other people stepped up," Knight said. "In the first half, (junior Kendri) Cesar hit a three and Tasha (McKoy) picked up some slack."
Juneau plays Colony again this evening, and McKoy said she expects better things from her team.
"I think we're going to play four strong quarters," she said. "We'll be more prepared and ready for them."
Juneau and Colony play again at 8 p.m. tonight at East. The Crimson Bears close out the tournament, and their road trip, with a game against East at 6 p.m. on Saturday night.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at email@example.com.
CRIMSON BEARS 48, KNIGHTS 39
Thursday's girls boxscore from East Anchorage High School
COLONY (39) - Kelsey Joynt 0 0-0 0, Ashley Semier 0 0-0 0, Joanna Spoth 0 0-0 0, Shelby Beirsto 0 0-0 0, Teresa Hill 0 2-4 2, Kelsey Johnson 0 0-0 0, Siena Locke 5 1-4 14, Malorie Eggers 2 0-1 4, Margaret Morris 1 0-0 2, Kristina Klapperich 3 2-2 8, Kate Baldwin 0 0-0 0, Jessica Dault 4 1-4 9. Totals: 15 6-15 39.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (48) - Alida Bus 0 0-0 0, Julie Heard 0 0-0 0, Kendri Cesar 2 2-2 7, Bianca Carpeneti 0 0-0 0, Heather Dillon 0 1-4 1, Mary Rehfeld 0 0-0 0, Amy Neussl 4 4-4 12, Danielle Larson 5 4-7 14, Letasha McKoy 6 1-3 14, Ashley Larson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 12-22 48.
COLONY 16 8 7 8 - 39
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 8 16 10 14 - 48
3-point goals - Colony 3 (Locke 3), Juneau-Douglas 2 (Cesar 1, McKoy 1). Fouled out - Colony 1 (Eggers), Juneau-Douglas 0. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Colony 19, Juneau-Douglas 15.