Bears cruise into SE Conference tourney

Posted: Sunday, February 27, 2011

Juneau-Douglas capped off a dominant regular and Southeast Conference girls’ basketball season on senior night Saturday with a 78-20 win over visiting Thunder Mountain.

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MICHAEL PENN / Michael Penn
MICHAEL PENN / Michael Penn

But it wasn’t quite the swan song at home for the Crimson Bears’ stellar senior class as Juneau-Douglas hosts next week’s Southeast Conference Tournament, which tips off Tuesday with a 4:45 p.m. matchup between second-seeded Ketchikan and No. 3 Thunder Mountain.

JDHS meets the winner on Wednesday at 6:50 p.m.

Senior Monica Ashenfelter made her first career start as the only varsity senior who wasn’t on the team last year when it won the 4A state championship.

“It felt great. I was kind of nervous because I’ve never started before, and it was a special moment,” she said afterward. “I didn’t think I was going to make varsity but it’s been great. The whole team has been really encouraging and we’re like a big family. This whole season has gone by so fast.”

Classmate Maria Weyhrauch came out guns blazing, scoring 10 points, including two 3-point bombs — the first and second of her prep career — in the first quarter as JDHS built a 28-2 lead out of the gate.

“The energy was high and we were all pumped up,” the Bears’ 6-foot-2 forward said. “It’s a special night and we came out trying to play our best. I’ve been shooting threes in practice so I thought, ‘It’s senior night, I might as well.’”

It was all JDHS from the jump as the Crimson Bears made 5 of 11 triples in the first half before finishing 6 of 15 for the night.

Juneau-Douglas led 37-2 at one point in the second quarter as Weyhrauch, Nani Ostrom and Taylor Larson all found the bottom of the net from downtown.

With shots from the perimeter falling, the Crimson Bears were unstoppable.

Perimeter shots combined with an inside power game and easy transition buckets led to a 48-9 lead at the break.

The Bears led 73-13 after three quarters.

Larson led all scorers with 18 points and had six rebounds. Ostrom scored 15 points along with six steals, Weyhrauch finished with 14 points and seven boards, Sarah Tarver added 13 points and seven steals, and Hannah Swofford 12 points.

Karli Brakes finished with seven assists and four steals, and Marissa Brakes had six assists.

The Bears had 25 assists on 34 field goals.

Juneau-Douglas finished the season with a 22-1 record, with its only loss coming against the team the Bears defeated in last year’s state championship game, Wasilla, on Jan. 6. JDHS then avenged the loss to the Warriors during the Dimond Lady Lynx Prep Shootout in February.

“The season has just flown by,” Weyhrauch said. “We started with a target on our back and a lot of pressure on us, but we’re really close as a team and all best friends.

“We all just love the game of basketball so we put our hearts into it at practice and in games.”

Falcons’ lone varsity senior salutes coaches, teammates

Juneau-Douglas scored the first 16 points in Friday’s matchup before cruising to a 66-27 win at Thunder Mountain.

Falcons forward Janie White, the lone varsity senior, said her two years with the new program flew by. White said she’ll always remember her coaches and teammates, and how they grew together during the program’s first years of existence.

“I wasn’t expecting it to be over so fast. It finally hit me again that I’m a senior and I’m going to be leaving,” she said. “The first day of practice was intimidating and hard. I was scared of (head coach) Tanya (Nizich), but everybody was really welcoming and I worked my way up.

“I wasn’t expecting to play at all but coach Arnold (Ibias) got me to play, and I’ve loved every moment of it.”

The Falcons went from winning zero games during last year’s inaugural season to winning seven this year, with at least two more to play in next week’s Southeast Conference Tournament at JDHS. Thunder Mountain matches up with Ketchikan Tuesday at 4:45 p.m. The winner takes on defending conference and 4A state champion Juneau-Douglas at 6:50 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Crimson Bears were their usual, dominant selves Friday, scoring 33 points off 27 TMHS turnovers and shooting 50 percent from the field. JDHS also got 21 second-chance points and 23 points off its bench.

The Crimson Bears led 19-6 after the first quarter, 37-9 at the break and 52-21 heading into the fourth quarter.

Taylor Larson led the Bears with 13 points, while Karli Brakes and Sarah Tarver scored 12 points each. Lason also had seven rebounds, and Brakes had five steals. Marissa Brakes and Tarver had four steals apiece, and four other Bears had two steals. The Brakes sisters combined for eight assists between them.

On a side note, it was the third straight game JDHS won by the score of 66-27.

Sophomore wing Jonelle Staveland had a big night for TMHS, finishing with a game-high 19 points and eight rebounds. Staveland made 5 of 8 3-pointers.

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