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Everything wound up the way it was meant to be Saturday for the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team.
On a night dedicated to seniors Danielle Larson and Amy Neussl, with a large, raucous crowd cheering them on for their last home game, the duo led the way on offense as the Crimson Bears beat the Sitka Wolves, 49-26, to complete a weekend sweep.
On Friday, Juneau defeated Sitka, 45-36, in match that remained close into the fourth quarter.
While Sitka focused its defense on Juneau's senior standouts all weekend, Larson - on her 18th birthday - still managed 12 points Saturday, and Neussl added 10. And with plenty of assistance from the Crimson Bear underclassmen, Juneau had the game wrapped up with a 26-10 lead at halftime.
Junior Kendri Cesar added nine points for Juneau, while juniors Letasha McKoy and Alida Bus had six points apiece.
"We played a lot better," Larson said after Saturday's game. "We played to out potential. ... The juniors took a big step up. Sitka knew what to expect from the seniors, but (the juniors) were able to take the load of us."
"It was a definitely a team win," Neussl said. "It was great to have support from the underclassmen."
Juneau disrupted Sitka's offense all night, while the Wolves hurt their own cause with several turnovers on traveling calls. The Crimson Bears' goal on defense was to hold Sitka senior Sidney Wyman under 10 points, which they accomplished both nights. On Saturday, Wyman led the Wolves in scoring, but had just seven points.
"Our kids did a great job defensively," Juneau coach Lesslie Knight said after Saturday's game. "We're getting better at communicating on their screens. ... We're looking to shut down their big scorers and make other players step up."
Knight said she was also pleased to see the Crimson Bears maintain their intensity in the second half, extending the 16-point halftime lead to as wide as 25 points before ending up with a 23-point margin of victory.
Larson and Neussl were honored in a ceremony prior to Saturday's game, and every basket they made was met with wild applause from the stands.
In Friday's game, Juneau never trailed, and with help from its juniors, the Crimson Bears built a 10-point lead two minutes into the second quarter.
"We struggled scoring," Knight said after Friday's game. "We didn't get the ball inside for Danielle, and Neussl wasn't hitting. But our juniors did a good job working together. They stepped up tonight."
McKoy and Neussl led Juneau with 10 points apiece, while Larson added eight, Cesar scored seven and junior Julie Heard chipped in six points.
Knight said she was pleased with the even distribution of scoring among her players.
"That's what it's going to take if we're going to go somewhere," she said.
Sitka managed to hang in Friday's game with a few big plays in the second half. After being held scoreless through most of the first three quarters, Wyman turned a four-point play with 1:08 left in the third to narrow Juneau's lead to eight at 34-26.
With 5:40 left in the fourth, Sitka sophomore Joy Ribao stole the ball and drove the length of the court for a lay-in to bring the Wolves to within six, 38-32, drawing loud cheers from the Sitka contingent.
But Sitka's rally efforts were thwarted by a number of traveling calls in the third quarter, and in the fourth quarter the Crimson Bears were able to run huge amounts of time off the clock as they kept pace with the Wolves on offense.
Sitka was led on offense Friday by a trio of players with eight points - Ribao, Wyman and Ashley Norman.
Juneau's varsity squad is off next weekend as the JV travels to a tournament in Hoonah. The varsity's next games are at Ketchikan Feb. 28-March 1, and the region and state tournaments beckons not far beyond that.
"It was a nice ending to our last home game, but our season's not over," McKoy said Saturday. "We've got Southeast, we've got state - we've got to keep pushing on."
Juneau JV/C teams
The Juneau JV and C teams swept their games with Sitka this weekend.
On Friday, Juneau's JV beat the Sitka JV, 39-20. The Crimson Bears were led by 12 points from Ashley Larson and seven from Mary Rehfeld. Morley Gordon led Sitka with eight points.
The Juneau JV beat Sitka's JV again on Saturday, 37-23, led by Larson's 11 points and Rehfeld's 10. Gordon scored nine for Sitka.
Juneau's C team beat the Sitka C team on Friday, 38-19. Tori Powers led Juneau with 10 points, while Jordan Harvey chipped in eight. On Saturday, the Juneau C team beat Sitka's C team, 45-10, with Jillian Hahnlen's 13 points leading the way for the Crimson Bears. Jordan Harvey had nine points for Juneau, and Kerstin Kimlinger added eight.
Andrew Krueger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRIMSON BEARS 45, WOLVES 36
Friday's girls boxscore from Juneau-Douglas High School
SITKA (36) - Joy Ribao 3 1-2 8, Chelsea Young 1 0-0 2, Ashley Norman 3 2-4 8, Miranda Whitson 1 0-1 2, Kim Dodson 1 1-7 3, Natalia Potrzuski 2 0-0 5, Sidney Wyman 1 5-6 8. Totals: 12 9-20 36.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (45) - Alida Bus 2 0-0 4, Julie Heard 3 0-0 6, Kendri Cesar 3 1-2 7, Heather Dillon 0 0-0 0, Amy Neussl 2 5-6 10, Danielle Larson 4 0-2 8, Letasha McKoy 2 6-9 10, Ashley Larson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 12-19 45.
SITKA 9 12 8 10 - 36
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 12 15 9 9 - 45
3-point goals - Sitka 3 (Ribao, Potrzuski, Wyman), Juneau-Douglas 1 (Neussl). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Sitka 17, Juneau-Douglas 17.
CRIMSON BEARS 49, WOLVES 26
Saturday's girls boxscore from Juneau-Douglas High School
SITKA (26) - Joy Ribao 3 0-0 6, Tawny Hoyt 0 0-0 0, Brit DelMoral 1 0-0 2, Chelsea Young 1 2-2 4, Ashley Norman 0 0-2 0, Miranda Whitson 2 1-2 5, Kim Dodson 1 0-0 2, Natalia Potrzuski 0 0-0 0, Sidney Wyman 3 1-1 7, Morley Gordon 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11 4-7 26.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (49) - Alida Bus 3 0-0 6, Julie Heard 0 0-0 0, Kendri Cesar 3 3-4 9, Bianca Carpeneti 0 0-0 0, Heather Dillon 2 0-0 4, Mary Rehfeld 0 0-0 0, Amy Neussl 2 5-6 10, Jordan Johnston 0 0-0 0, Kate Potter 0 0-0 0, Danielle Larson 5 2-7 12, Letasha McKoy 1 4-8 6, Sophia Smith 0 0-0 0, Ashley Larson 0 2-2 2. Totals: 16 16-27 49.
SITKA 5 5 10 6 - 26
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 13 13 9 14 - 49
3-point goals - Sitka 0, Juneau-Douglas 1 (Neussl 1). Fouled out - None. Technical fouls - Sitka 1 (Coach Rich Krupa 1). Total fouls - Sitka 17, Juneau-Douglas 12.