The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team hasn't had much experience in close games prior to this weekend's series with Dimond, with all of its wins and losses coming by double-digit margins.
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On Saturday, however, the Crimson Bears experienced a down-to-the-wire finish. They ended up on top as they edged out visiting Dimond 59-57 at the Juneau-Douglas High School gym.
With Friday's 56-45 victory over Dimond, the fourth-ranked Crimson Bears (10-3, 4-0 Southeast) completed a two-game sweep of the top-ranked Lynx (8-3).
"It was intense," Juneau senior Clae Baker said. "The Dimond kids go flying after every single ball."
"They played extremely physical, and I think we responded pretty well," Juneau coach Steve Potter said.
In a back-and-forth game, Dimond cut Juneau's lead to one point as Crimson Bears leading scorer Will Egolf fouled out with 5:05 remaining in regulation.
Juneau, however, got key baskets from junior Faifo Levale and senior Robert Beierly to grab a 58-55 lead with 1:27 to play.
"I was just feeding off my team's energy," Beierly said of his two shots - his only baskets of the game.
With 23 seconds left, the Lynx' Colton Lauwers hit a shot from the right corner - first called a 3-pointer, later ruled a 2-pointer - to again bring Dimond within a point, 58-57.
After a pair of missed JDHS free throws, Dimond got the ball back and Rylan Whilden drew a foul while driving to the basket with 5.2 seconds left in regulation. Whilden missed both shots, sending the already-raucous Juneau fans into a frenzy.
JDHS senior Nico Saldivar added a late free throw and Dimond's last-second inbounds pass got tangled up in a crowd of players as time expired.
"We have big plans for this year," Potter said. "If we're going to do the things we want to do, we have to respond in pressure situations...
"These are the first games of the second half of the season and I think they were better than our first games of the season. Hopefully, when we start the postseason, we'll be even better."
Egolf scored 17 points, Baker scored 11 and Brinson added seven points for Juneau.
The lead see-sawed through much of the first quarter, but Juneau went on a 9-0 run - including an alley-oop dunk by Egolf and a 3-pointer by Brinson - to take an 18-10 edge with 1:22 left.
Dimond took a 25-24 lead when Michael Melendez scored off an offensive rebound with 2:23 left in the second quarter. Juneau jumped back ahead and closed the half ahead 34-29, thanks to a 3-pointer by junior Ryan Larson with 16 seconds left in the second quarter.
The physical game started to take its toll when Egolf was benched after picking up his fourth foul with 6:31 left in the third quarter.
Two of Dimond's starters, sophomores Ryan Hanley and Austin Mallory, fouled out with 3:18 and 2:32 remaining, respectively, in the third.
Juneau maintained a 48-44 lead entering the fourth.
Dimond took a 49-48 lead with 5:55 left in the fourth, but Egolf reentered the game.
The senior made an immediate impact. He scored two baskets in less than 15 seconds, including a dunk of a missed Juneau shot to put the Bears up 52-49 with 5:28 to play. It was a lead Juneau would never relinquish.
Whilden led all scorers with 18 points for Dimond while sophomore Chris Plooy added 16 and Lauwers chipped in 11.
"I'm very proud of my kids," Dimond coach Rob Galosich said. "They gave a great effort (and) played with a ton of heart."
The Crimson Bears head north to the Fairbanks area later this week where they'll play West Valley on Thursday, North Pole on Friday and Lathrop on Saturday.
Juneau-Douglas 56, Dimond 45
Will Egolf posted a triple-double and the Crimson Bears used speed and pressure to wear down the Lynx in Friday's win.
Egolf scored 19 points and, according to team stats, had 13 rebounds and 11 blocked shots. Potter said he believed it was the first Crimson Bear triple-double in his 14 years with the program.
The game stayed close through the first quarter, and Ryan Larson's 3-pointer with 20 seconds left gave the Crimson Bears a 10-7 lead entering the second period.
The Bears, particularly Saldivar and Brinson, relentlessly pressured the Lynx in the second period as JDHS surged to a 27-12 halftime lead.
"Their guards are big, and good scorers," Potter said of Dimond. "Our guards can also score, but they're small and quick. We tired (Dimond) out a bit, and that's our goal."
Juneau maintained a double-digit lead through the third quarter. The Lynx tried to make a run in the fourth, but never got closer than nine points down.
Saldivar added 10 points, Clae Baker chipped in eight and Cameron Cook and Larson had seven apiece for the Bears.
Plooy scored 14 points and Whilden added 13 for the Lynx.
Juneau-Douglas 59, Dimond 57
JDHS 18 17 14 11 - 59
Dimond 13 16 15 13 - 57
JDHS (59) - Brinson 7, Saldivar 3, Larson 3, Clark 2, Beierly 6, Cook 6, Baker 11, Egolf 17, Levale 4.
Dimond (57) - Melendez 10, Plooy 16, Hanley 2, Whilden 18, Lauwers 11.
3-point shots - Juneau-Douglas 2 (Brinson, Larson); Dimond 3 (Whilden 2, Lauwers).
Fouled out - Juneau-Douglas 1 (Egolf); Dimond 2 (Hanley, Mallory).
Free throw - JDHS 21-31; Dimond 12-30.
Juneau-Douglas 56, Dimond 45
JDHS 10 17 11 18 - 56
Dimond 7 5 12 21 - 45
JDHS (45) - Saldivar 10, Larson 7, Clark 2, Cook 7, Baker 8, Egolf 19, Levale 3.
Dimond (45) - Melendez 10, Plooy 14, Hanley 4, Whilden 13, Lauwers 3, Mallory 1.
3-point shots - Juneau-Douglas 5 (Saldivar 2, Larson 2, Cook); Dimond 0.
Fouled out - Juneau-Douglas 1 (Cook); Dimond 1 (Whilden).
Free throws - JDHS 11-23; Dimond 18-29.
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