Juneau-Douglas upped its win streak to eight games while improving to 6-0 in Southeast Conference play Tuesday with a 55-35 win over cold-shooting Thunder Mountain at JDHS.
The Crimson Bears, on the other hand, started out hot from the field, making 63 percent of their first-half field goals, including 4 of 6 from the perimeter.
“That’s a positive for us. Sooner or later we’re going to have to figure out how to play against a sagging zone,” JDHS coach Steve Potter said. “They came out of (the zone), played a little man and then we started working on some other stuff.
“But it was a good game for us,” he continued. “We got a lot of floor time for our seniors and everybody contributed. They’ve contributed all year but this time, they got a chance to do it on the floor.”
Senior Kyle Barry, seeing his first-ever varsity action, scored inside off a Lance Ibesate drive and dish to get things started. Ibesate drove the lane for a score and a 4-0 lead as the Falcons turned it over on four of their first five possessions.
“We weren’t quite ready to go and I think it started with the JV game. Our energy level was down from the start,” TMHS coach John Blasco said. “I think we kind of woke up in the second quarter, but once you’re already down to a top team, it’s hard overcome.”
Ibesate made a 3-pointer and senior Eddie Hurtte scored an old-fashioned 3-point play before Ty Grussendorf netted the Falcons’ first points with a triple. Nino Crisostomo scored the final basket of the first quarter from behind the arc, and JDHS held a 12-3 lead after a period.
The Crimson Bears surged ahead with a 9-0 run early in the second quarter. Travis Godrey splashed a triple from the wing and an Ibesate steal led to two free throws for Tony Yadao. Alec Calloway came off the bench to add another 3-pointer to make it a 20-5 game, Yadao made another free throw and De’Andre “Jazz” King scored inside off an inbound play before Keith Ainsworth stopped the run with a bucket at the 5:38 mark.
Ben Jahn made it a 23-9 game but Yadao got a steal and two free throws, and two Ryan Baldwin buckets inside sandwiched a Matt Seymour triple for Thunder Mountain. The Falcons closed the half with a free throw to head into the locker room trailing Juneau-Douglas 29-13.
The Falcons got back into the game with a 5-0 run to start the third quarter, but the Bears answered with a 6-0 run to push their lead back to 17, 35-18.
“We talked about coming out strong (to start the second half), and I was really proud of how they did come out and competed,” Blasco said. “But then JD made a couple of buckets and we got stuck in the hole again. From start to finish, I’m proud of the way we competed. We just have to find ways to score.”
An old-fashioned 3-point play for Ainsworth and two free throws for Sam Jahn made it a 35-23 game with 3:03 left to play in the third quarter.
The Bears continued to attack the basket inside and took a 44-26 cushion into the fourth quarter, and Thunder Mountain got no closer than 18 the rest of the way.
“We didn’t want to come out flat and we had a goal to finish undefeated on our home court,” said Ibesate, who scored 12 points with five boards to lead the Bears. “That’s what we were looking for the whole game, to finish undefeated (at home).”
JDHS has upped its record to 16-4, 6-0 on the year after losing three straight games.
“We wanted to get our rhythm back,” Ibesate said. “We were obviously really flat up in Anchorage. We’re figuring out what we need to do to get the wins.”
The Bears have just two games left at Ketchikan the weekend of Feb. 25-26. Thunder Mountain hosts the Kings Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. The Southeast Conference Tournament is March 4-6 in Juneau.
The JDHS JV team pulled off a 53-36 win behind 18 points from Darien Stanger and 14 from Jeffrey Pusich. Ben Jahn scored 10 points for the Falcons, and Matt Seymour added nine.