It didn't take long for Liz Haas to set the tone for the game.
Shortly after the opening tip, the senior guard-forward for the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team dropped down to the left corner of the floor and launched a 3-pointer. The ball swished through the net, the first of eight 3-pointers the Crimson Bears made Wednesday night as they claimed a 59-44 victory over the Chugiak Mustangs at Chugiak High School.
``It's always nice to hit that first shot,'' said Haas, who scored 10 points Wednesday.
Tanya Nizich, another senior guard-forward for the Crimson Bears, nailed five 3-pointers Wednesday, with Haas adding two of the long-range bombs in the first quarter. But the 3-pointer that showed Juneau was living right was a half-court shot by Krystle Llanto that swished through the net as the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter.
``Krystle hit that half-court shot, and it was nothing but net,'' said Nizich, who led the Crimson Bears (9-2 overall) with 17 points. ``She had her hands over her mouth as she came back to the bench. She couldn't believe it.''
The victory over Chugiak (2-4) opened Juneau's four-game road trip that continues with a 2 p.m. rematch today against defending Class 4A state champion Palmer (8-2) in the first round of the East Anchorage Thunderbird Classic. Palmer, which dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 in this week's Alaska Media High School Basketball Poll, split a two-game series in Juneau earlier this month. The Crimson Bears, ranked fifth in the poll, will play top-ranked East Anchorage (6-2, undefeated in Alaska) at 8 p.m. Friday and then conclude the tournament against unranked Bartlett (5-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday. Audio feeds for each game can be heard in Juneau over the Education Access Channel, GCI Cable Channel 6.
``I think it helped us going into the tournament,'' Nizich said of Wednesday's victory. ``I thought we did a good job on defense, although it was a little late. And we were seeming to get our shots to fall.''
``I think we shot the ball reasonably well,'' Juneau coach Jim Hamey said. ``But you could tell we hadn't played in two weeks and they (the Mustangs) hadn't played since Jan. 7. We were both rusty.''
Juneau led the entire game, but Chugiak stayed close through halftime as a couple of Crimson Bears were in foul trouble. But in the second half, Hamey switched from his usual half-court trap and halfcourt man-to-man defenses into a full-court press and Juneau went on a 17-4 run in the third quarter to take a 22-point lead, 44-22, entering the final period.
``I don't think we played our best defensive game, especially in the first half,'' Haas said. ``Overall, we need to work the ball inside more. We needed to drive to the basket more. We did a good job of getting everyone scoring, and Yvonne Harris played a great game.''
Besides the 17 points from Nizich and 10 from Haas, Juneau also picked up eight points off the bench from Courtney Mason and six points each from Llanto, Harris and Erin Mesdag. Mason and Nizich each had four assists, while Nizich added three steals, Harris grabbed five rebounds and Anya Carlson-Van Dort had four rebounds.
``We need everyone to get in high figures (scoring),'' Nizich said. ``That's the only way we can compete with the good teams.''
Chugiak was led by the trio of Krystal Seward, Karen Rabung and Alicia Adams, who each scored 11 points. Krystle Robertson, one of Chugiak's main players on last year's state team, was sidelined with a knee injury.
The Crimson Bears only have eight players with them on this road trip, since the JV girls are scheduled to be in Cordova for another tournament. Hamey said things got a little dicey when the Crimson Bears ran into some early foul trouble against Chugiak. ``We made some silly reaching fouls,'' he said. But he thought it would be better for the program in the long run for the JV players to see some action this weekend in Cordova instead of sitting on the bench in Anchorage.
The Juneau girls JV team was supposed to open play today in the Cordova Elks Tournament, but Wednesday's avalanche and bad weather meant none of the visiting teams had been able to get into Cordova as of noon today. School officials said the tournament hasn't been canceled yet, and teams are still trying to get into town. Besides the Cordova boys and girls teams, the tournament features the Juneau JV girls, the West Valley boys, both Yakutat teams and both Kenai teams.
CRIMSON BEARS 59
Wednesday's game from Chugiak High School
Krystle Llanto 2 1-2 6, Kohan 1 0-0 2, Courtney Mason 2 4-6 8, Tanya Nizich 6 0-0 17, Anya Carlson-Van Dort 2 0-0 4, Liz Haas 4 0-0 10, Yvonne Harris 3 0-2 6, Erin Mesdag 3 0-0 6. Totals: 23 5-10 59.
Jackie Hight 0 1-2 1, Laura Hedum 1 0-0 2, Amber Clodfelter 0 1-2 1, Annie Whitters 0 1-2 1, Jen Wasson 1 0-0 2, Krystal Seward 5 0-0 11, Tania Deisher 0 0-0 0, Karen Rabung 4 3-5 11, Erica Putnam 1 2-2 4, Alicia Adams 3 5-6 11. Totals: 15 13-24 44.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS15 12 17 15 - 59
CHUGIAK 7 1 4 22 - 44
3-point goals - Juneau-Douglas 8 (Nizich 5, Haas 2, Llanto 1), Chugiak 1 (Seward 1). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Juneau-Douglas 20, Chugiak 8.