Midway through the fourth quarter of the Juneau-Douglas girls basketball team's Thunderbird Classic game against Wasilla on Thursday at East Anchorage High School, it looked like the Crimson Bears would claim their seventh straight victory of the season.
The Crimson Bears took a nine-point lead off Michael Kohan's 3-pointer with just under six minutes remaining in regulation. But Wasilla didn't give up and came back to win the game 53-46 in overtime.
Juneau began the game slowly, but still managed to hold onto a slight lead until early in the second quarter when Juneau's Hilary Rehfeld and Wasilla's Brittney Kroon were called for a double-foul under the basket. It was Kroon's third foul and Wasilla's 6-foot, 4-inch center was forced to sit the rest of the half.
The Bears took advantage of Kroon's absence on the floor and quickly jumped out to a 23-14 halftime lead.
"I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half, but they went inside hard in the second half," Juneau head coach Jim Hamey said.
The Warriors scored the first five points of the second half, but the Bears held off the charge and continued to hold the lead.
Amy Neussl was on fire, burning Wasilla for six points in the third quarter and when Kohan hit her 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to make it 40-31 Juneau, the Bears looked in complete control of the game.
But from that point on, Juneau would only score four more points in regulation and Wasilla slowly cut into Juneau's lead.
Kroon, who just returned to action two games ago after being sidelined with a rare liver disease (she's awaiting a transplant), scored 10 of her 11 points in the second half and her sheer size gave Juneau trouble under the basket.
"She (Kroon) really made a difference in the second half," Hamey said. "They got the ball into her deep and she kept scoring. She's a really big girl and we had trouble with her."
The Crimson Bears still looked like they would hold on for the win when Rehfeld hit two clutch free throws to give Juneau a 44-40 lead with just over a minute to play.
But Wasilla's Amy Jenks nailed a jumper and Kroon stole the inbounds pass and put in a layup to tie the game at 44 with 22 seconds to go.
Juneau turned the ball over one more time with 4.6 seconds remaining, but Jenks just missed a shot a the buzzer, sending the game into overtime.
Wasilla went on to outscore Juneau 9-2 in the overtime period to claim the victory.
"They played a very aggressive half-court, trapping defense," Hamey said. "They shouldn't have been able to do it with the size of their team, but they did."
Neussl had a great game for the Bears in a losing effort, scoring 15 points although she had to leave the game bloodied not once, but twice.
Early in the game, Neussl dove to save a loose ball and came up with a bloody nose. And in the second half, Neussl was unknowingly cut on the head by someone's tooth and blood began to trickle down her cheek.
"Both of them were her fault," Juneau assistant coach Jer Hamey said. "The dive loosened her front teeth and bloodied her nose and the second one was a small cut that didn't even need any treatment and we sent her right back out on the court."
Micheal Kohan scored 11 points and Rehfeld added eight in another balanced scoring attack by the Bears, but Hamey expressed disappointment in his team's inability to consistently put points on the board. "We again spent most of the game with difficulty scoring points," Hamey said. "We're just not the offensive team I thought they would be."
Things will not get any easier for the Bears tonight as they face Bartlett, which lost to East Anchorage 79-45 in Thursday's other girls first-round game. Tonight's game begins at 4 p.m. and will be broadcast by KJNO, AM-630.
WARRIORS 53, CRIMSON BEARS 46, OT
Thursday's girls boxscore from the T-Bird Classic at East Anchorage High School
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (46) -- Kari Parr 2-4 0-0 4, Suzanne Parr 0-2 0-0 0, Michael Kohan 5-14 0-0 11, Courtney Mason 1-10 0-0 2, Kendri Cesar 1-3 0-0 2, Anna Capacci 0-0 0-0 0, Amy Neussl 6-12 3-3 15, Kaci Murphy 0-2 2-2 2, Hilary Rehfeld 3-11 2-4 8, Danielle Larson 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 19-61 7-9 46.
WASILLA (53) -- Tonya James 3-8 0-0 7, Kelly Tompkins 0-3 1-2 1, Amy Jenks 3-9 1-1 7, Marsha Schirack 7-14 3-7 17, Christie Hayes 3-6 0-0 6, Amy Jillson 0-5 0-0 0, Malorie Egger 0-0 0-0 0, Mellisa Mayse 0-0 0-0 0, Nancy Wininger 0-6 4-6 4, Brittney Kroon 4-9 3-6 11. Totals: 20-60 12-22 53.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 8 15 12 9 2 -- 46
WASILLA 7 7 15 15 9 -- 53
3-point goals -- Juneau-Douglas 1-13 (Kohan 1-3, Cesar 0-1, Neussl 0-2, S. Parr 0-2, Mason 0-5), Wasilla 1-4 (James 1-3, Tompkins 0-1). Rebounds -- Juneau-Douglas 42 (Rehfeld 9, Kohan 5, Larson 5), Wasilla 45 (Schirack 6, Kroon 6). Assists -- Juneau-Douglas 8 (Mason 3, Kohan 2), Wasilla 11 (James 8). Turnovers -- Juneau-Douglas 18 (Kohan 7, Rehfeld 5), Wasilla 13 (Kroon 4, James 3, Hayes 3). Blocked shots -- None. Steals -- Juneau-Douglas 10 (K. Parr 5, Rehfeld 2), Wasilla 9 (James 3, Jenks 3). Fouled out -- Juneau-Douglas 1 (Rehfeld), Wasilla 0. Technical fouls -- None. Total fouls -- Juneau-Douglas 20, Wasilla 15.