After trying to match up with Service's taller lineup Thursday night, the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team went small to pull away for a 69-59 victory at the JDHS main gym.
The Crimson Bears switched to a three-guard lineup in the fourth quarter and the extra speed more than compensated for the shorter lineup. Earlier in the game, Juneau hadn't been able to shake the Cougars when Juneau was using the standard basketball lineup of two guards, two forwards and a center.
The teams swapped leads several times and, other than one brief moment in the second quarter, no team led by more than five points through the first three quarters. Then Juneau outscored Service 29-19 in the fourth quarter after the lineup switch was made.
"It's an advantage," Juneau guard Curtis Lane said of the three-guard offense, which usually features Lane, Junior Cumlat and Clay Brown in the guard spots, Ryan Monagle at forward and James Severin at center. "We can move our feet faster and it really helps, especially the point (guard), to have three people who can bring the ball up the court. Our confidence is up and we're learning how to win."
Juneau started experimenting with a three-guard offense late in a 65-63 loss to Chugiak during last weekend's Palmer Elks Club Showdown, and the extra speed helped Juneau rally from 16 points down in the third quarter to nearly steal the game. Juneau used the three-guard offense off-and-on during victories over Palmer and Homer, which showed off Juneau's depth in the guard positions.
"We went to a zone and they shot us out of it," Service forward Jason Orien said after scoring a game-high 23 points, including 12 points in the fourth quarter. "Their guards took it to the hole really strong."
In the first half, Brown was Juneau's main offensive threat as he scored nine of Juneau's 12 points in the first quarter and had 14 of his team-high 19 points by halftime. Brown said the 19 points was his career high since he transferred to Juneau last year from Sitka.
"I think I had 15 points once last year," Brown said. "My teammates were setting pretty good screens for me and I was able to run the baseline. What this showed is our team has a lot of scoring threats and when someone is having an off night there's someone else who can step up and fill the void."
Severin, who played forward early in the game then switched to center in the three-guard lineup, was Juneau's only other scorer in double figures with 14 points. Lane and Monagle added nine points each for the Crimson Bears (10-6), while back-up guards Joe Ayers and Jon Carlo Malacas had seven and six points, respectively.
"Today our big guys didn't play as much as usual because of the matchups, especially when we went to the three-guard offense," said Cumlat, who helped ignite Juneau's fourth-quarter rally with a couple of big steals. "We still could have played better, though."
Brown was Juneau's main scoring threat in the first half, especially as Juneau's usual top scorers Severin and Lane both struggled to find their range. Service led 15-12 at the end of the first quarter, but Juneau took a 31-30 halftime lead after scoring the final eight points of the second quarter. Both teams had an extended scoring drought late in the third quarter, but Juneau started its run when forward Jake Miller blocked a shot then scored the last three points of the quarter to tie the game at 40-40.
"Miller's block was a momentum changer for us," Brown said. "We kind of got tentative in our shooting before that."
Juneau is off until next weekend, when it hosts Ketchikan for its homecoming games on Friday and Saturday. Those are also Juneau's last home games of the season, with the Crimson Bears hitting the road after that.
"These Southeast games are really important, especially the early ones because they decide the seeds in the tournament," Brown said. "These next six games are really important for us."
Charles Bingham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRIMSON BEARS 69, COUGARS 59
Thursday's boys boxscore from Juneau-Douglas High School
SERVICE (59) -- Ollie Zidek 0 0-0 0, Jason Orien 10 3-8 23, Dustin Grimes 3 0-0 6, Stefan Novotney 1 0-0 2, Brandon Barter 3 3-4 10, Michael Auelua 2 3-4 7, Jimmy Wheeler 3 2-3 9, Tyler Moor 1 0-0 2, Zach Leliever-Joseph 0 0-1 0. Totals: 23 11-20 59.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (69) -- Joe Ayers 2 3-3 7, Jon Carlo Malacas 3 0-0 6, Ryan Monagle 3 3-4 9, Junior Cumlat 1 0-1 2, Curtis Lane 3 2-2 9, Craig Kitka 0 0-0 0, Sterling Henderson 0 0-0 0, Leon Bus 0 0-0 0, Clay Brown 5 7-8 19, Bryan Hamey 0 0-0 0, Jake Miller 1 1-2 3, James Severin 6 2-4 14, Byron Wild 0 0-0 0. Totals: 24 18-24 69.
SERVICE 15 15 10 19 -- 59
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 12 19 9 29 -- 69
3-point goals -- Service 2 (Barter 1, Wheeler 1), Juneau-Douglas 3 (Brown 2, Lane 1). Fouled out -- Service 2 (Grimes, Auelua), Juneau-Douglas 0. Technical fouls -- None. Total fouls -- Service 15, Juneau-Douglas 19.