The second-ranked Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team enters the final stretch of its season with two games in Ketchikan on Friday and Saturday. Both games tip off at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast by KINY, 800-AM radio.
The last time the Crimson Bears (15-2 overall, 4-0 region) and the Kings met this season, Juneau rolled to 38- and 39-point wins on Jan. 18-19. However, this time the Bears will be without their leading scorer, Curtis Lane.
Lane rolled over his right ankle in Juneau's last game against Colony on Saturday and will not suit up against Ketchikan. But his prognosis looks promising.
"The doctor wants me to get x-rays to make sure nothing is cracked," Lane said. "It feels all right. I haven't really tried sprinting my fastest, though."
"He's going, but he's not going to play," Juneau head coach George Houston said. "He's a senior and it's his last trip to Ketchikan."
Lane has averaged 14.9 points over 17 games and has been the team's main 3-point threat. Junior guard Joe Ayers, who started one game in Sitka early this month, will get the start in place of Lane.
"Nobody in the state plays like Curtis," Ayers said. "We're going to have to go inside to Byron (Wild) a little more. We have to look to get more points from other players down low."
Wild, Juneau's main scoring threat in the paint, scored just four points in his first meeting against Ketchikan, but broke out for 14 the second night. In his most recent game, Wild exploded for 16 points against Colony.
"Curtis will definitely be a loss to us," Houston said. "But we are deeper as a team to make up for his loss. We will definitely miss his 3-point shot. But a lot of other guys can step up and get the job done. We have to get points and production from other areas, whether it'll be Byron, Ray (Zimmer), Joe or Bryan."
Even though Lane is the leads the team in scoring, other starters have shown they can put points on the board if needed. Co-captian Ryan Monagle has twice eclipsed the 20-point barrier and Juneau's other co-captian, Junior Cumlat, has also shown he can mix up his ball-handling skills with a shooter's touch.
Monagle, arguably the best all-around player on the team, is second on the team with a 12.7 scoring average, third in rebounds with 5.2 and his 2.1 assist average ranks second. Cumlat is third is scoring with 9.3 points and leads the Bears with four assists a game.
The Bears will also look for several other players to pick up some slack, like Bryan Hamey, Craig Kitka and Sterling Henderson, who all have contributed off the bench.
"We're probably not going to rely on 3-pointers because Curtis takes most of them," Cumlat said. "Maybe see who wants to step up some more. Playing in Ketchikan, the atmosphere is so different. These games are important to us."
Ketchikan (12-5, 2-2) is a much-improved team from 2000-01, when it finished 7-17. The Kings have a solid core of players, led by Jesse Richardson, who scored 12 and 14 points against Juneau in the first two meetings between the teams. Other players to watch are Calin Bjur, Russ Miller and Braden Sharp.
The Bears hold a two-game lead over the Kings in Region V-Class 4A competition, but the league title is still up in the air as Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka play each other two more times apiece this season.
"I can't complain about what we've done this year," Ketchikan head coach John Brown said. "Juneau's a step up the ladder from us. But we always look forward to bring them down here. We want to get a shot at them on our home court. You never know. I watched Duke the other night and I thought they would jump all over Maryland -- but you never know. Sometimes everything is going right."
Houston said he's wary of the Kings on their home court and the Bears shouldn't expect the easy wins they got in Juneau last month.
"They're always ready," Houston said. "They play us tougher in their place. They have their fans, support, confidence and a building they shoot good in. All these things will have a bearing. For us, we're coming down to the end of the season. The league is still on the line. We got a lot of things to play for."
Jeff Kasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.