For six seniors on the Juneau-Douglas High School basketball team, a significant portion of their athletic life will draw to a close this weekend.
The top-ranked Crimson Bears (15-3, 4-0 Southeast) conclude the home portion of their schedule with two games against Sitka (3-15, 0-6). Both games tipoff at 8 p.m. This weekend will be the final home games for Juneau-Douglas' talented class of six seniors.
"I've thought about it a lot," senior point guard Nico Saldivar said. "It'll be exciting, emotional."
Including Saldivar, this weekend marks the final home contests for point guard Bryan Combs along with forwards Robert Beierly, Cameron Cook, Clae Baker and Will Egolf.
The senior class proved instrumental in helping JDHS reach the state's top ranking.
Egolf, a first-team All-State selection last year, currently leads the team in scoring and rebounding. Upon graduation, Egolf will play NCAA Division I basketball for Bradley University next season.
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He'll be the first Crimson Bear since Carlos Boozer to play Division I basketball.
Forwards Cook and Baker, along with point guard Saldivar, have been reliable starters all season. Cook and Baker are both solid interior scorers and rebounders while Saldivar admirably led the team as point guard.
Beierly provided the Crimson Bears instant offense either as a starter or reserve while Combs gave JDHS valuable depth in the backcourt.
"We're a senior-dominated team," Potter said. "As they're playing, that's how we play."
JDHS rides a 10-game win streak into this weekend's series. Also, the Crimson Bears have won their last five games by an average margin of 29.4 points.
Juneau-Douglas will be looking for a season sweep of the Wolves. JDHS beat Sitka 76-53 and 75-49 on Jan. 5-6.
Who? No. 1 JDHS (15-3, 4-0) vs. Sitka (3-15, 0-6).
When? 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday.
Where? JDHS gym.
What's at stake? The Crimson Bears can keep pace with Ketchikan for first place in the conference with sweep of Sitka.
While Sitka doesn't boast the overall height the Crimson Bears possess, the Wolves are quick and have a couple of players who can score in bunches.
Bryn Calhoun knocked down five 3-pointers and scored 25 points in an 80-61 loss to Ketchikan on Feb. 17 while Wolves teammates Ryan Peters and Kory Hansen are all capable of scoring in double figures.
Sitka also defeated West Valley 56-48 on Monday.
"We just have to take it one game at a time and see what happens," Saldivar said. "It's Sitka right now, Ketchikan will be tough and then regions."
JDHS will travel to Kayhi (16-4, 4-2) next weekend before the Southeast Conference tournament March 7-10.
Before those big games, however, are two final home contests this weekend that serve as an exclamation point to solid careers.
There's also that one last entrance into the gym.
The experience of breaking through the banner with teammates, hearing the pep band and being cheered by a couple thousand fans will be something to be savored.
"It's awesome," Cook said. "That's what I'm going to probably miss the most."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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