The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team wanted to expunge some of the memories of last year's playoff loss to Colony with a solid showing this weekend. Instead, the Crimson Bears experienced a painful instant replay Sunday.
Not only did Colony come back from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit, but the Knights' Doug Gray once again provided the dagger with a go-ahead 3-pointer. Colony, ranked fourth in the Alaska Sportswriters Prep Basketball Poll, defeated JDHS 53-47 in a finish nearly identical to last year's 54-51 state quarterfinal victory.
Last year, Gray's 3-pointer capped a rally that saw Colony down 12 in the last quarter.
"Watching the tape of the game from last year it was almost identical, even to the body language of the guys," JDHS coach Steve Potter said.
JDHS led 45-33 with 4:12 left in the game after making seven 3-point shots and successfully navigating Colony's full-court defense.
The Knights, however, turned up its full-court press to spark a game-closing 20-2 run to win.
Down 47-46, Gray repeated his heroics from last season by knocking down a 3-pointer at the top of the key with 40 seconds left in the game. Last year, Gray's 3-pointer came with 24 seconds left and happened on nearly the exact same spot on the court.
"When it was in my hands it was like deja vu and I was like, 'Oh no, I'm going to miss,'" Gray said. "But I got a good pass from a teammate in the key and made it."
The Bears tried to fight back but a pair of 3-point shots fell short as Colony's Gray and Josh Moseley made two free throws each to finished off a stirring comeback.
Colony scored the final 14 points of the game after trailing 47-39 with 1:48 left in regulation.
The majority of Colony's points during the run came off steals. Jaron Murphy had two steals and Gray recorded one during the decisive final 4:12.
"They ran the same press against us in the first half and we got lay-ups," Potter said. "Pressure does weird things to you. We need to build a little more trust in each other to help alleviate some of the pressure."
To start the game, JDHS came out with focus and intensity.
The Bears took a 13-6 lead by ending the first quarter on a 11-0 run. Ryan "Bubba" Larson, Dominique Brinson and Cody Grussendorf all hit 3s during the run.
JDHS extended its lead to 18-6 in the second quarter before Colony fought back to tie the game with a 12-0 run. JDHS hit three of four free throws in the final minute, though, to take a 23-22 lead.
Brinson then ignited Juneau in the third quarter, making three 3-point shots as JDHS surged to a 39-29 lead. The senior had a team-high 12 points, as did junior forward Eric Gross.
The Bears couldn't close out the game, however, as Colony's trapping defense took control in the final 4½ minutes of play.
"Our press really helped us today," Gray said. "It wasn't working early. Near the end we were getting a lot of steals and we just executed and made our free throws."
Colony made 15 of 22 free throws while JDHS connected on 8 of 14 attempts.
The Bears (6-8) open Southeast Conference play Friday as they travel to top-ranked Ketchikan (14-1) for a weekend series.