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It was an evening 25 years in the making.
The Ketchikan Kings beat the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears 69-68 in the final seconds Saturday night at the JDHS gymnasium, winning in the capital city for the first time in a quarter century. Juneau beat Ketchikan 74-65 Friday night in the first game of the Southeast Conference-Class 4A series.
"I'm excited for our kids to get that 25 years of not winning up here (nonsense) outta here," Ketchikan coach Doug Nausid said. "We wanted to do it the first night, but you know, one out of two, that's all we can do now. We'll just keep working."
Tied 68-68 with 2.3 seconds on the clock Saturday, Ketchikan's Thomas Montgomery hit the second of two free-throw attempts to give the Kings a one-point lead. After Juneau called a timeout with 1.4 seconds left, senior Norman Zura's baseline jumper bounced off the rim, giving the Kings their first victory in Juneau since Feb. 8, 1980.
"The first time since 1980 or something, it's awesome," Ketchikan senior center Tyler Richardson. "We're pretty happy."
The Kings' victory evened the season series at two games apiece. Juneau (8-11 overall, 4-2 Southeast) and Ketchikan (13-6 overall, 4-2 SE) each have two conference games against Sitka remaining - games that will decide the top seed and first-round bye at next month's region tourney.
"You never like to lose," Juneau coach George Houston said. "Nobody ever likes to lose. Streaks and stuff, that's stuff that happens and people make a big deal out of that when they get broken, but I'm not a big believer in that. Every game is a separate entity and a separate life into itself, so we've just got to be ready to play the next time we play them."
Both teams came out Saturday night playing tough and physical basketball, limiting the other team's offensive looks and each committing numerous fouls. The tough battles for rebounds and multiple turnovers kept the score low at the beginning of the game, with Ketchikan up 13-12 after the first quarter.
Richardson's dominant presence in the paint gave Juneau a tough time under the basket in the first half.
"It was very physical," said Richardson, who led all scorers with 24 points. "There were a lot of fouls so you can tell it was pretty physical."
Both teams picked up the offensive intensity in the second quarter with the help of the quick feet of Juneau's Larry Cooper and Ketchikan's Jesse LeBeau. But the strong play in the post gave Ketchikan a 36-31 lead going into halftime.
"It was a close ball game throughout, they had a five-point lead at half and it came down the stretch and was extremely tight," Houston said. "There were numerous plays all the way through the game that could have decided it one way or the other. ... I think it's just two very evenly matched and competitive teams."
The Crimson Bears came into the second half with a newfound intensity, opening with a 7-0 run. The teams would go on to volley for the lead through the remainder of the quarter and into the final seconds of the game.
Trailing 62-64 in the fourth quarter, Zura hit a 3-pointer with 1:33 left in the game to give JDHS a 65-64 lead, bringing the fans to their feet.
Both teams used their quickness and size to keep the score virtually deadlocked into the final minute. Juneau's Luke Miller was fouled with 13 seconds left in the game and Ketchikan leading 68-67. Miller missed the first attempt before making the second basket, tying the score at 68-68. Then Montgomery was fouled with 2.3 seconds left on the clock as he drove into the basket. He missed his first free throw, but made the second to win the game.
"They're a really good team," said Juneau's Tom Derbesy. "It was nip and tuck all the way until the end there and they got us by an edge. ... It was disappointing because we battled really hard."
Nausid said the key to Ketchikan's victory was "just playing smarter offense. We got the ball inside where we had a mismatch. Tyler (Richardson) and Derek (Clark) went well to the basket. ... Friday we were taking a lot of 3-pointers, and that's not what we should be doing against Juneau. We should be taking the ball inside and that's what we did tonight."
Saturday was Senior Night and the last regular-season home game for the Crimson Bears - but it was not the last game of the year for the Bears at JDHS.
"It's a little different for us this year because regions is in this gym in a couple weeks, so we know we're going to be playing on our floor again in front of our great fans. They were a big factor, I thought, in the game because they had so much enthusiasm," Derbesy said.
The Southeast Conference-Class 3A/4A Tournament will be held March 16-19 at JDHS. Richardson said he is looking forward to coming back to Juneau to play.
"We're going to be confident that we can actually win in Juneau now. We're just gonna get ready," he said.
Juneau will play a pair of conference games in Sitka on Friday and Saturday to close out the regular season.
"We've got some games with Sitka next weekend that we're looking forward to," Houston said. "The league is not decided yet, (so) we'll have to wait and see what happens. I'll take a look at the tie-break process and how that plays out and see what's necessary for us to hopefully win the league and not have to play in the first round."
Cooper lead the Bears in scoring with 16 points on Saturday, while Zura and Kyle Huntsman each scored 10, Mychal Hutcherson scored 9, and Will Egolf scored 8.
LeBeau scored 15 points for the Kings, and Clark and Montgomery each added 13 points.
In Saturday's junior varsity game, Ryan Fagerstrom scored 21 points and Faifo Levale added 14 as Juneau won 75-49. Matt Boyd scored 26 points to lead Ketchikan. In Saturday's C team game, Zach Heppner scored 12 points and Billy Sarandria chipped in 10 as the Crimson Bears posted a 74-55 win. Corey White scored 15 points for the Kings.
Crimson Bears 74, Kings 65
Senior Larry Cooper hit four 3-pointers - including one at the halftime buzzer - and the Juneau bench contributed key plays as the Crimson Bears beat the Ketchikan Kings 74-65 in Friday's series opener.
"It was our hometown crowd," Cooper said of the key to victory. "We need to perform in front of them. We can't roll over."
Juneau and Ketchikan played a see-saw game through much of the first half. The game was tied at 15-all at the end of the first quarter, and Ketchikan's Casey Bass hit a free throw to tie the game at 24-all with 2:54 left in the second.
Junior Ryan Fagerstrom scored to put Juneau up 24-22 with 2:40 left in the half - a lead the Crimson Bears would not relinquish. Cooper and Fagerstrom were among the Juneau players who contributed off the bench.
"You never know who's going to give you that push," Juneau coach George Houston said. "When we go to the bench, we don't step off. We're at the same, even keel. With this team, anyone can contribute at any given time."
With two seconds left in the half, Kayhi's Derek Clark was called for an offensive foul, giving the ball back to Juneau. Sophomore Clae Baker inbounded the ball to Cooper, who dribbled and put up a shot from about six feet beyond the 3-point arc. The shot went in, delighting the crowd and extending Juneau's halftime lead to 32-26.
"I looked at the clock (and saw) I had to shoot it," Cooper said.
Ketchikan drew as close as three points early in the third quarter, but Juneau maintained and built its lead the rest of the way.
Cooper scored 17 points to lead the Crimson Bears, while senior Kyle Huntsman added 13 - including 9-of-10 free-throw shooting - and senior Mychal Hutcherson scored 11.
Senior center Tyler Richardson scored a game-high 24 points to lead Ketchikan, while senior guard Jesse LeBeau scored 12 points and senior Mike Meacock scored 11 for the Kings.
"Juneau really came out focused and executed well," Kayhi coach Doug Nausid said. "They were very disciplined and did a nice job pushing the ball down the court. Defensively, we were like Swiss cheese - they just drove down the middle."
In Friday's JV game, Ketchikan's Mike Bruce scored 18 points - 16 in the second half - as the Kings rallied for a 58-48 win over Juneau. Scott Lesh scored 13 points - including four 3-pointers - and Clae Baker added seven for Juneau, which was ahead 25-21 at the half.
In Friday's C team game, Juneau's Sam Clark scored 15 points and Faifo Levale added 11 as the Crimson Bears won 85-46. Lee Yonker scored 13 points for Ketchikan.
Andrew Krueger contributed to this report. The Juneau Empire sports department can be reached at email@example.com.
CRIMSON BEARS 74, KINGS 65
Friday's boys game from JDHS
KETCHIKAN (65) - Thomas Montgomery 1 0-0 2, Jesse LeBeau 4 2-2 12, Derek Clark 1 4-5 6, Matt Boyd 1 1-2 3, Casey Bass 1 2-6 5, Beau Poppen 0 1-2 1, Mike Meacock 3 4-6 10, Charles Altman 0 0-0 0, Kyle Howe 0 0-0 0, Tyler Richardson 9 6-9 24, Mike Bruce 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 20-32 65.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (74) - Larry Cooper 6 1-3 17, Norman Zura 3 0-0 7, Tom Derbesy 3 0-0 6, Tres Saldivar 0 2-4 2, Luke Miller 2 1-2 5, Ryan Fagerstrom 1 0-0 2, Scott Lesh 4 1-3 9, Mychal Hutcherson 5 1-5 11, Kyle Huntsman 2 9-10 13, Clae Baker 0 0-0 0, Will Egolf 1 0-0 2. Totals: 27 15-27 74.
KETCHIKAN 15 11 17 22 - 65
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 15 17 21 21 - 74
3-point goals - Ketchikan 3 (LeBeau 2, Bass), Juneau-Douglas 5 (Cooper 4, Zura). Fouled out - Ketchikan 3 (LeBeau, Clark, Bass), Juneau-Douglas 0. Technical fouls - None. Total fouls - Ketchikan 22, Juneau-Douglas 27.
KINGS 69, CRIMSON BEARS 68
Saturday's boys game from JDHS
KETCHIKAN (69) - Thomas Montgomery 5 1-2 13, Jesse LeBeau 5 4-4 15, Derek Clark 3 7-10 13, Matt Boyd 0 0-0 0, Casey Bass 2 0-0 4, Beau Poppen 0 0-0 0, Mike Meacock 0 0-0 0, Tyler Richardson 7 10-19 24, Mike Bruce 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 22-35 69.
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS (68) - Larry Cooper 5 4-4 16, Norman Zura 4 0-0 10, Tom Derbesy 2 1-2 5, Tres Saldivar 0 1-2 1, Luke Miller 2 1-2 5, Ryan Fagerstrom 1 0-2 2, Scott Lesh 0 2-2 2, Mychal Hutcherson 4 1-2 9, Kyle Huntsman 3 4-5 10, Clae Baker 0 0-0 0, Bryan Ryder 0 0-0 0, Will Egolf 3 2-2 8. Totals: 24 16-23 68.
KETCHIKAN 13 23 16 17 - 69
JUNEAU-DOUGLAS 12 19 21 16 - 68
3-point goals - Ketchikan 3 (Montgomery 2, LeBeau), Juneau-Douglas 4 (Cooper 2, Zura 2). Fouled out - Ketchikan 0, Juneau-Douglas 1 (Egolf). Technical fouls - Ketchikan 0, Juneau-Douglas 1 (Saldivar). Total fouls - Ketchikan 22, Juneau-Douglas 23.