One of the most decorated senior classes in recent Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball history plays their final home contests this weekend.
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The top-ranked Crimson Bears host No. 4 Ketchikan today and Saturday in the team's last home series of the season. Both games start at 6 p.m.
"I have to be honest, every time I think about it I get teary-eyed," fifth-year JDHS coach Lesslie Knight said Wednesday.
"For four years and lots and lots of practices, it all comes down to an end. For some of them, high school is the end of their competitive playing, which is some closure, some excitement and some sorrow. ... It's sad, you know?"
This year's senior class will leave Juneau-Douglas (15-3, 4-0 Southeast) with plenty of memories and accolades.
Hannah Buck, Andrea Doerflinger, Veronica Lietz and two-time state player of the year Talisa Rhea will hang up their crimson, white and black jerseys with two state finals appearances, one state championships and three Southeast Conference crowns to their credit.
"Several of them lived here their whole lives," Knight said. "To watch them grow up is fun and exciting - and watching what fine young ladies they've turned out to be."
In addition to their on-court exploits, each member of the senior quartet totes a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Also, the foursome coaches youth basketball teams with Juneau Parks and Recreation.
Crimson Bears girls team
Who? No. 1 JDHS (15-3, 4-0) vs. No. 4 Ketchikan (13-3, 2-2).
When? 6 p.m. tonight and Saturday.
Where? JDHS gym.
What's at stake? The Crimson Bears can secure a top seed in the Southeast Conference tournament with two wins this weekend.
"It's cool that those kids can have them as coaches and watch them in a game," Knight said. "It makes the seniors aware of what they're doing."
This weekend also marks the end of Rhea's time in Juneau.
The senior will play for Oregon State next year after leading the Crimson Bears in nearly every statistic the last few seasons.
Since her freshmen year, Rhea has been a constant presence for JDHS and a force statewide. Able to dictate the pace of a game as a point guard or able to put a team on her shoulders as a scoring guard or forward, Rhea's basketball knowledge and leadership make her one of the great players in JDHS history.
"What she's done is be a presence as a freshman," Knight said. "Most players wait until their a junior or senior to dominate. She's been a significant state player for four years.
"She's provided incredible leadership through her playing. Not necessarily her verbal direction but by controlling the tempo of a game. I think we have younger players that have been thankful to play with her. It's something that's important to them."
While the pregame ceremonies are sure to be special, the actual games have the potential to be intense.
Ketchikan (13-3, 2-2) enters this weekend ranked fourth in the state.
Despite being a young team, the Kings have played fearless ball.
Ketchikan, led by first-year coach Melissa Johnson and freshman point guard Laci Effenberger, is 5-2 against Alaska Class 4A competition. Those two losses both came to JDHS on Jan. 19-20. The Crimson Bears beat host Kayhi 41-37 and 58-52 in that series.
"We value how hard they play," Knight said of Kayhi. "I think you're going to see some real scrappy intensity. I think they dive on the floor, they follow their shots and they work really, really hard."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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