It was only fitting that on senior night, the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team won against Sitka by showing a veteran's poise under pressure.
JDHS sank 9-of-11 free throws in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game to secure a 53-48 victory. The Crimson Bears (15-2) opened the series with a 51-20 victory on Friday.
"I think it says we're a well-rounded team," JDHS guard Talisa Rhea said. "Everyone stepped up at the end and did what they had to do. Everyone made their free throws and that's what we need to have for us to be successful for the rest of the season."
Holding a tenuous 27-25 lead, Juneau-Douglas' Talisa Rhea started to take over.
Rhea charged the rim with abandon, scoring seven straight points and forcing Sitka to use a time out with 5:09 left in the third down 34-27.
The junior had 10 points and an assist in the quarter as JDHS increased its lead to 42-31.
Rhea finished the game with 21 points and made all 10 of her free throw attempts. She also dished out seven assists, many of them coming off a drive.
"We've been stressing all week to drive and then look to dish if they rotate over," Rhea said. "I think we started to do that more and more and tried to get them in foul trouble. I was just looking to create stuff for people."
Sitka started Saturday's game with considerably more spark, scoring nearly as many points in the first quarter as it did in Friday's entire contest.
Natalia Potrzuski, K.J. Lorenzo and Michelle Martin all hit 3-pointers as the Wolves took a 16-10 lead after the first quarter.
Juneau-Douglas chipped away at the lead in the second quarter before Lexi Garvey's baseline drive with eight seconds left gave the Crimson Bears a 27-25 halftime lead.
Garvey had nine points and four boards for JDHS. Andrea Doerflinger scored eight points.
Potrzuski led Sitka with 12 points while Lorenzo and Kim Dodson had 10 points each.
JDHS started and ended the game with its five seniors - Garvey, Jordan Harvey, Kerstin Kimlinger, Sophia Smith and Maddie Swofford.
On Friday, Juneau-Douglas received terrific contributions from its reserves in a 51-20 blowout.
Kayla Harrison, Doerflinger and Smith all came off the bench to score and provide tough defense for the Crimson Bears.
In the first half alone, Juneau's bench outscored Sitka's substitutes 15-1.
"I thought our bench did an excellent job of coming out and playing confidently," Knight said.
Defensively, JDHS played perhaps its best full game of the year and allowed the least amount of points this season.
Juneau-Douglas frustrated Sitka into just 22 percent shooting from the floor and limited Dodson to only 10 points.
In the second half, Sitka went 8:50 without scoring and managed only six points.
"It was nice that they put two full halves together," Knight said. "We talked about that at halftime. Sometimes you jump out to a lead and you let up."
Rhea led JDHS with 18 points, 12 rebounds and four assists.
The junior scored eight of those points in the first quarter as JDHS seized a 12-8 lead.
Knight inserted Smith to start the second quarter and the move paid immediate dividends.
Smith stole the initial inbound pass and converted with a layup. Smith's defensive hustle sparked an 8-1 opening run. JDHS held Sitka scoreless for almost the final four-and-a-half minutes to take a 31-14 halftime lead.
Juneau-Douglas also received a boost from Doerflinger. The reserve center scored six points and blocked a shot to help the defensive effort.
Juneau put the game away in the third quarter, outscoring the Wolves 13-4 to take a 44-18 lead.
Defensively, JDHS shutdown Sitka's perimeter play which cause the team to sputter offensively. Sitka made just 1 of 14 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc.
"We didn't have a lot of penetration," Knight said. "That meant they didn't have a lot of dishes to Kim inside."
JDHS concludes Southeast Conference regular season play at Ketchikan next weekend.
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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