It's a true homecoming this weekend for the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team.
This weekend's basketball games at Juneau-Douglas High School:
Varsity: Girls 6:15 p.m.; Boys 8 p.m.
JV: Boys 9:45 p.m.; Girls 4:30 p.m.
C: Boys 8 a.m.; Girls 2:45 p.m.
Varsity: Girls 6:15 p.m.; Boys 8 p.m.
JV: Boys 2:30 p.m.; Girls 4:15 p.m.
C: Girls 10:45 a.m.; Boys 12:30 p.m.
After six weeks of playing teams from across the state and the country, the Crimson Bears return to competing against familiar Southeast rivals as they face the Ketchikan Kings in a pair of homecoming games this weekend.
The varsity games will begin at 6:15 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gymnasium.
"It's always competitive between Southeast teams," Juneau coach Lesslie Knight said. "Everyone plays harder when you play region games.
"There's always been a tough Ketchikan-Juneau rivalry. We're anxious to play them."
Juneau (7-5 overall, 0-0 region) is coming off a two-week break; the Crimson Bears last played a hard-fought game against East Anchorage in Anchorage on Jan. 25. The Crimson Bears finished that road trip with a 2-2 record against tough competition - beating Colony twice while losing close games to Chugiak and East.
Now their attention turns to Region V-Class 4A games - the ones that really count on the road to the region and state tournaments.
"It's early in the season," senior forward Amy Neussl said. "We're just getting to the important games."
Knight said the Crimson Bears have been reviewing tapes from last season to re-familiarize themselves with Ketchikan's style of play.
"Historically they have zoned us a lot, so we've been practicing our zone offense," Knight said.
The combination of homecoming and region competition should provide the Crimson Bears with a lot of incentive to do well.
"We usually play more as a team at this time of the season," junior forward Letasha McKoy said.
Ketchikan roared out of the gate to a 9-0 record to begin the season, earning them a spot in the top five of the Alaska Sportswriters' State Basketball Poll.
Since then the Kings (10-2 overall, 1-1 region), who are still ranked fifth, struggled in a region split with Sitka two weeks ago and last week Kayhi dropped 53-48 decision to Class 3A Petersburg.
Ketchikan coach Doug Nausid said the Kings are largely a young team, and missed a lot of easy shots and free throws in their two losses.
"We had lots of opportunities, but when you have young kids you have to learn to finish," he said.
The go-to player for the Kings is senior Anne Elliott, who has been Ketchikan's leading scorer in nearly every game and was named MVP of the Lady Kings Invitational tournament in December.
Other key players for Ketchikan this season are senior posts Maria Swaim and Whitney Hofstedt, and sophomore guards Raquelle Pahang and Lindy Hendrick. Pahang scored a game-high 17 points in the Kings' loss to Sitka last month.
Nausid said Ketchikan is looking forward to facing the Crimson Bears - and will probably be even more anxious to play after taking a long ferry trip to Juneau for this weekend's games.
Knight said that in addition to dealing with Kayhi, the Crimson Bears will have to contend with a lot of friendly diversions surrounding this weekend's games.
"The hard thing is for the kids to not get distracted by homecoming activities," she said. "We need to stay focused and not get too excited by all the other activities. ...
"We feel we've had a lot of tough competition and we're hungry after not having a game this past week."
In addition to the varsity games, the Juneau girls junior varsity and C teams will also play a pair of games against their Ketchikan counterparts this weekend. The JV teams will play at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, and the C teams will face off at 2:45 p.m. on Friday and 10:45 a.m. on Saturday.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.