Crimson Bears stay perfect in conference

Juneau-Douglas beats Sitka twice over the weekend to set up key series with Kayhi

Posted: Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team's six seniors walked off their home court on Saturday as winners for the last time.

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The top-ranked Crimson Bears routed Sitka 70-44 on Saturday and overcame a slow start the night before to win 65-44 on Friday.

Saturday's win was the last home game for seniors Will Egolf, Clae Baker, Robert Beierly, Bryan Combs, Cameron Cook and Nico Saldivar.

"I was going to get any time I could and enjoy my last game as a senior," Beierly said. "It's my last game as a Crimson Bear in my hometown, so I had to go and show my face."

On Saturday, Juneau-Douglas used a suffocating defense to put away its Southeast Conference foe early.

JDHS raced to a 17-1 first-quarter lead and limited Sitka to just one field goal in the first half en route to a commanding 33-12 lead.

"They only had one point in the first quarter and that was due to us coming out slow and on our heels (Friday,)" Egolf said. "We kind of wanted to take care of business and turn it around a little bit."

The senior finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and three steals in Saturday's win.

Cook and Baker scored 14 points each to lead JDHS (17-3, 6-0 Southeast), which won its 12th straight game. Baker also had five rebounds and six steals.

Jeremy Espeleta led Sitka (3-17, 0-8) with 14 points.

Juneau-Douglas concludes the regular season next weekend at Ketchikan. The series will determine who receives a first-round bye in next month's Southeast Conference tournament.

"We're just going to live thinking about Ketchikan from here on out," Egolf said. "Think about regionals and then go to the next step, which is state. We're just taking care of business one step at a time."

On Friday, a big second half lifted the Crimson Bears past a determined Sitka team.

The Wolves trailed 21-19 at halftime and stuck close by, employing a deliberate, ball-control offense. JDHS wrestled back momentum after halftime by switching to a double-teaming defense.

"We just wanted them to play faster," JDHS coach Steve Potter said. "We thought they were playing too comfortable so we wanted them to play at a faster tempo."

Leading 28-26 midway through the third quarter, Juneau started to pull away. Cook and Shawn Ibesate knocked down 3-pointers as JDHS ended the quarter ahead 38-28.

The Bears ended the upset bid as the referee whistled a Sitka player for a technical foul at 3:49 with Juneau-Douglas up 49-34.

Ibesate made all four free throws and then hit a backbreaking 3-pointer on the ensuing possession. The junior scored 12 points off the bench.

"That's what we've been looking for from Shawn all year," Potter said. "He's a very good shooter."

Egolf led the team with 15 points, seven rebounds and three blocks while Saldivar had seven points, seven assists and four steals.

The Wolves dictated the pace of the first half with a patient motion offense and looked poised to pull off a monumental upset. Neither team led by more than four points in the first half as the Wolves appeared unafraid of the state's top-ranked team.

"If you can survive the first three minutes of every quarter, as a young team, every minute of the game, your confidence grows," said Sitka second-year coach Andy Lee. "Every possession your confidence grows."

Prior to Friday's start, JDHS honored one of its own by retiring George Houston's red game-day sweater. The framed Indiana basketball sweater will hang below the scoreboard opposite Carlos Boozer's high school uniform in the JDHS gym.

Houston, who retired in April 2006, led JDHS to two state championships and 278 wins in 14 years as head coach. He also spent 18 years as a Crimson Bears assistant coach.

"I wondered what the hell happened to that sweater," Houston quipped to the crowd. "I've been looking for it all year."

SATURDAY'S GAME

Juneau-Douglas 70, Sitka 44

JDHS - 17 16 12 25 - 70

Sitka - 1 11 15 17 - 44

JDHS (70) - Brinson 5, Saldivar 3, Craig 2, Sarandria 2, Larson 8, Clark 6, Combs 2, Cook 14, Baker 14, Egolf 12, Levale 2.

Sitka (44) - Rivera 1, Espeleta 14, McCarty 1, Calhoun 11, Peters 6, E. Diaz 3, Staton 2, Mathson 2, Lee 4.

FRIDAY'S GAME

Juneau-Douglas 65, Sitka 44

JDHS - 9 12 17 27 - 65

Sitka - 8 11 9 16 - 44

JDHS (65) - Brinson 5, Saldivar 7, Ibesate 12, Craig 4, Larson 2, Clark 1, Cook 14, Baker 5, Egolf 15.

Sitka (44) - Rivera 4, Espeleta 2, McCarty 2, Rule 4, Calhoun 8, Peters 12, E. Diaz 2, Staton 4, Mathson 6.



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