West Valley presents homecoming hurdle

Posted: Friday, January 29, 2010

Juneau-Douglas is hosting West Valley this weekend in a boys' and girls' basketball doubleheader on Friday and Saturday during homecoming festivities, though both teams' coaches don't think the festivities will be much of a distraction this year.

"The good news is that we were gone on Sunday when the stuff first started," girls' coach Lesslie Knight said of her team, which just returned from a Colorado road trip. "Usually, the homecoming and spirit week is a huge distraction, but I have not seen it this week, which is nice."

Boys' coach Steve Potter said homecoming is a special time for all of the kids.

"Sure, it's some mode of adistraction. But that's part of what makes it special," he said. "The kids get excited all week and it builds up. There will be a big assembly on Friday before the games. Homecoming is the week after finals, so there's that relief ... of being done with finals. Hopefully, we won't use up all our energy before the game."

Neither coach knew much about the teams of West Valley, but they both are prepared for anything.

"We've only seen them in the airport in Fairbanks, and they were leaving when we were going in. And we haven't played them," said Potter, whose Bears are 6-7, 0-2 on the year. "They have a full-court trap they use and a half-court trap. They'll try and scramble you up, force the game to be up-tempo, which is not necessarily what we're trying to do, but it's certainly something that we have to handle.

"Their roster has a couple 6-4 and 6-2 guys but in high school, 6-4 can be anywhere from 6-2 to 6-6."

Junior guard Luke Carson runs the show for the Wolfpack, and at 5-foot-11, could present a problem for the Bears' vertically challenged backcourt. But what the JDHS guards lack in height, they make up for in speed.

"I think for us, guard play is always key," Potter said. "We have four guards that are getting pretty regular minutes and they're all playing pretty close to the same amount. When they're out there busting their butts on the defensive end, the offense is coming a lot easier for us."

William Vealy, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, Willie Clark, a 6-foot senior wing, John Renfro, a 6-foot-4 junior forward, and 6-foot-4 senior Hayden McKenzie play the bulk of minutes for a balanced West Valley (4-6, 1-4) squad.

Hannah Madsen, a 5-foot-9 freshman point guard, keys the Wolfpack girls' team, which likes to run and press, something that suits JDHS just fine.

"That sounds perfect," Knight said. "That sounds like Ketchikan."

Knight said the Bears are ready for just about anything at this point in the season.

"We've practiced hard the last couple of days and ran a lot," she said. "We're ready to go."

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