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Curtis Lane scored a season-high 24 points as the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team buried the North Pole Patriots 78-52 on Wednesday night in North Pole.
The win improves the Crimson Bears' overall season record to 11-1 and solidifies their spot as the No. 2 class 4A team in the state. They remain second in the state's Winning Percentage Index and also stayed in the second spot in the Alaska Sportswriters High School Basketball Poll, behind top-ranked Bartlett.
Lane's season-high was also the individual high score for the Bears this season, surpassing the 21 points Ryan Monagle put up in Sitka on Saturday.
"Before the game, coach (Robert) Casperson said Curtis was due for a break-out game," Juneau head coach George Houston said. "Now we just have to keep it going. They'll be keying on him the rest of the trip."
North Pole was the first opponent in a four-day, four-game road trip. Juneau plays West Valley today at 7:30 p.m., No. 5 Lathrop on Friday and wraps up the trip in a showdown against No. 3 Wasilla on Saturday. Those games will all be broadcast by KINY AM-800.
Although the Crimson Bears blew out the Patriots by 26 points, Houston was not particularly impressed with his team's performance in the first half. Juneau's average margin of victory this year is 20.9 points.
"We played and we came away with a win," Houston said. "We started off a little slow. It was just from the way we were playing. It was 18-8 after the first quarter, but I wouldn't have known it unless I looked at the scoreboard. I felt we could play a lot batter. We talked about it at half-time and they came out strong."
Fatigue from a long day of travel could have affected the Bears. They started their day early at the Juneau airport and traveled across half the state before arriving at North Pole on Wednesday afternoon.
"I try to put them into that type of challenging situation," Houston said. "They got to play in that kind of duress. Everything was on time the planes were all on time. When I put them to bed tonight at 10 p.m., they were dragging."
The Bears led 37-21 at the break with Byron Wild and Lane each scoring eight points in the half. However, Lane really came alive in the third quarter, draining three 3-pointers and leading Juneau to a 26-point third quarter. Lane finished the game with six treys.
"Curtis got it going at the start of the third quarter," Houston said. "He got some that were pretty deep. He's a shooter and he got the job done tonight."
Juneau led 63-37 at the end of the third, enabling Houston to find playing time for all of his players - even Thomas Derbesy, who had the job of filming video for the team, had a chance.
"We got everyone in the game," Houston said. "Tommy was shooting the game in the booth and Junior (Cumlat) volunteered to take his place so Derbesy could play. That's the type of leadership you expect out of your captain."
Behind Lane, Juneau was led in scoring by Bryan Hamey with 10 points and Wild with eight points. Cumlat added seven points and Ryan Monagle scored six.
North Pole was led by Jason Hamphill's 17 points while Chris Cox scored 11, Charles Kokrine scored nine and Kyle Wiltse added eight.
"Bryan Hamey came in and played well," Houston said. "He did some nice things. Wild and (Jake) Miller were both close to double figures on the boards. These are things we can build on for our next games."
Today's foe, West Valley is ranked just above North Pole near the bottom of the WPI, but Houston is always wary of the rankings. West Valley sports a very small lineup with no player over 6-foot-2.
"Sometimes kids look at the WPI and put the scores on the board before the game is even played," Houston said. "But tomorrow's West Valley. We'll get a shoot around in the morning to try to get the kinks out. The next two teams after them are tough. Everyone's been talking about Lathrop since we've got off the plane."
Jeff Kasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
CRIMSON BEARS 78, PATRIOTS 52
Wednesday's boys varsity game at North Pole High School
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (78) -- Junior Cumlat 1 4-4 7, Joe Ayers 2 0-1 4, Ryan Monagle 2 2-2 6, Curtis Lane 8 2-2 24, Sterling Henderson 1 2-2 4, Alex Heumann 0 0-0 0, Nik Hura 2 0-0 5, Bryan Hamey 2 5-6 10, Craig Kitka 0 2-4 2, Byron Wild 4 0-0 8, Jake Miller 2 0-0 4, Ray Zimmer 1 1-3 3, Tommy Derbesy 0 1-2 1, David Jones 1 0-0 2. Totals: 25 19-26 78.
NORTH POLE (52) -- Josh Rutman 0 1-2 1, Chris Cox 5 0-0 11, Kyle Wiltse 3 1-1 8, Charles Kokrine 4 1-2 9, Matt Zanazio 0 0-0 0, Nick Holt 0 0-0 0, Zack Hansen 1 0-0 2, Josh Fiorenzi 0 0-0 0, Max Pananen 0 1-2 1, Jason Hemphill 6 5-8 17, Ryan Duch 1 0-0 2, Jason Dahlke 0 1-2 1.. Totals: 20 10-17 58.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 18 19 26 15 -- 78
NORTH POLE 8 13 15 16 -- 52
3-point goals -- Juneau-Douglas 9 (Lane 6, Cumlat, Hura, Hamey), North Pole 2 (Cox, Wiltse). Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- North Pole (Pananen) Total fouls -- Juneau-Douglas 19, North Pole 19.