It was a case of too little, too late for the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team in Thursday afternoon's 65-63 loss to the Chugiak Mustangs.
Playing in the first round of the Palmer Elks Club Showdown at Palmer High School, the Crimson Bears fell behind by 16 points midway through the third quarter. Juneau closed the gap to four points entering the fourth quarter only to fall behind again by 10, 61-51, late in the period. The Crimson Bears made a late run, but all Curtis Lane's 3-pointer at the buzzer could do was bring Juneau to within two points in the final score.
"We started making some shots and we played with more aggression," Juneau coach George Houston said. "We kind of ran out of time. We should have been playing all game like we did for the last quarter-and-a-half. This further magnifies our problem with falling behind early in the game."
Juneau, which fell to 7-6 overall with the loss, trailed Chugiak for most of the game. But the Crimson Bears did take a brief 22-20 lead midway through the second quarter. That's when the Mustangs (also 7-6) went on a run to make it 33-26 Chugiak at halftime.
Chugiak continued the onslaught into the third period, stretching the lead out to 16 points before putting in several subs. Juneau closed the gap late in the quarter, but Chugiak's starters were back in by the start of the fourth quarter and the lead increased to 10.
"That's when we decided we wanted to wint his game," Houston said. "We started playing harder and we played better on defense. We hit a couple of threes, and we made some defensive stops. We didn't play with the same intensity early in the game as we did later on."
Chris Devine and Troy Gray both scored 13 points to lead Chugiak, while Adam Fitt-Chappell added 11 and Brandon Hudson scored 10 for the Mustangs.
James Severin scored 19 points to lead Juneau, with Lane adding 13 and Joe Ayers 11 for the Mustangs.
Even though Chugiak had a large height advantage at nearly every position -- the Mustangs started a front line that went 6-foot-8, 6-5, 6-5 -- Houston said the Crimson Bears held their own in the rebounding department and 6-1 forward Ryan Monagle "rebounded exceptionally well." Houston also said Chugiak's press didn't seem to affect Juneau. But in the first half, Juneau shot poorly and the Crimson Bears never fully recovered.
"We had open looks, but we didn't knock 'em down," Houston said. "We had decent, open looks, but we didn't shoot well at all."
Late in the game, Juneau made its run when it went to a three-guard lineup with only Monagle and Severin playing forward. Houston said he may use the three-guard lineup a lot at 6 p.m. tonight when Juneau plays the Palmer Moose in the second round of the tournament. Juneau closes out the round-robin tourney at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday when it plays the Homer Mariners. (Both games will be broadcast on KINY, 800-AM.)
"Palmer is an extremely athletic team," Houston said of the Moose, who beat Homer 80-60 in Thursday's other boys game. "They're quick, and their 6-foot-3 guys are pretty mobile. They really push the ball up the court. They try to get ya running up and down. They'll be a challenge."
MUSTANGS 65, CRIMSON BEARS 63
Thursday's boys boxscore from the Palmer Elks Club Showdown at Palmer High School
CHUGIAK (65) -- Chris Devine 5 3-4 13, Jason Veldhuis 0 0-0 0, Troy Gray 4 5-6 13, Michael John 3 2-2 8, Brandon Hudson 4 1-3 10, James Hanson 1 0-0 2, Aaron Loges 0 0-0 0, Dan Erickson 0 0-0 0, Adam Fitt-Chappell 4 2-3 11, Nate Worrell 3 2-5 8, Riley Fitt-Chappell 0 0-0 0, Brandon Goulet 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 15-23 65.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (63) -- Joseph Ayers 5 0-1 11, Bryan Hamey 0 0-0 0, Sterling Henderson 0 0-0 0, Byron Wild 0 0-0 0, Julius Cumlat 1 2-2 4, Craig Kitka 0 0-0 0, Curtis Lane 5 0-0 13, John Mackie 0 0-0 0, Jacob Miller 0 0-0 0, Ryan Monagle 2 2-4 6, Clay Brown 3 2-2 8, Leon Bus 0 0-0 0, Jon Carlo Malacas 1 0-0 2, James Severin 5 8-13 19. Totals: 22 14-22 63.
CHUGIAK 14 19 13 19 -- 65
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 12 14 16 21 -- 63
3-point goals -- Chugiak 2 (Hudson 1, A. Fitt-Chappell 1), Juneau-Douglas 5 (Lane 3, Ayers 1, Severin 1). Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- None. Total fouls -- Chugiak 17, Juneau-Douglas 20.