The Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team travels to Anchorage today in preparation for the Third Annual Lady Lynx Prep Shootout at Dimond High School.
Juneau will face Chugiak in Thursday's first round, in what turns out to be rematch of a game played in Chugiak two weeks ago.
In that game, the Crimson Bears (9-3) could manage only two points in the first quarter against the Mustangs (7-6) but nevertheless won the game 44-36 behind strong team defense.
"They didn't seem to take us very seriously and we kind of took them by surprise early," Chugiak coach Jon Schroeder said. "But coach Hamey, like he usually does, got them turned around and overcame us later in the game."
Chugiak's Krystal Seward was unstoppable, scoring 24 points in a game where only four Mustangs scored.
"We couldn't stop her from scoring," Juneau coach Jim Hamey said. "She made longshots, short shots and medium-ranged shots -- she was on fire. We're going to have to find a way to slow her down."
But it was Juneau's defensive pressure that corralled the Mustangs and enabled the Bears to leave Chugiak with a win.
"Juneau started to press in the second half and we didn't handle the pressure very well," Schroeder said. "Our youth and inexperience hurt us."
Chugiak's other top players are 5-foot-7 guard Elyse Hartman and 6-1 forward Erica Putnam, who scored two and six points respectively in their last game against the Crimson Bears.
Chugiak has played 13 games in the last five weeks and four games in the past six days so they might be a bit tired on Thursday.
"We could be worn out," Schroeder warned. "But there's no sneaking up on Juneau, so we'll have to be at the top of our game to compete with them."
In the Shootout's other games, Lathrop, ranked second in the state Class 4A poll, will play Grace Christian. The bottom of the bracket matches Seward against Service and Monroe Catholic will face host Dimond in Thursday's feature match.
If Juneau defeats Chugiak, the Crimson Bears will play at 7 p.m. on Friday against the winner of the Lathrop-Grace Christian game, otherwise the Bears will play at 3 p.m. on Friday in the consolation bracket.
"I really hope we get to play Lathrop," Hamey said. "And it will be interesting playing Chugiak on a neutral floor."
Looking ahead, these will be the last games the Bears will have so they can fine tune before Ketchikan comes to Juneau on Feb. 16-17 for the last stretch of Region V-Class 4A games.
"We're capable of playing pretty good basketball," Hamey said. "But we're looking and working hard for consistency."
The Bears have played well against some tough competition in winning and losing efforts. Early in the season, points came easy for the girls but until last week's performance at the Thunderbird Classic, the offense seemed to sputter.
"The girls know they need to come out stronger," Hamey said. "But they need to be careful not to come out too high and fizzle out."
Team co-captain Courtney Mason agreed that the team needs to come out stronger in the games to set the tempo early.
"We need to work on pumping ourselves up for the game more," Mason said. "The girls and I are anxious. We need to come out really strong and get out to a good start."
Juneau's game will begin at 4:45 p.m. but no radio broadcast will be offered for the tournament.
Jeff Kasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.