Juneau-Douglas won the overall Southeast Conference tournament No. 1 seed after pounding Thunder Mountain 75-16 Saturday for a sentimental senior night victory as every Crimson Bear broke into the scoring column.
The five seniors, forward Annette Highley, wing Brittany Fenumiai, guard Mahlet Tingley, guard Kristen Dierick and wing Emily Johnson, all got the start in their final home game and they made it count, pushing the Bears to a 10-0 lead before the first subs entered the game at the midway point of the first quarter.
"It was kind of a short lineup," cracked JDHS coach Lesslie Knight. "They're an incredibly special group. Of those five seniors, they have outstanding grades and they're very academically focused. They're awesome as far as community service, they're great role models for younger kids and they have been a pleasure to work with."
Fenumiai started the scoring spree, splashing a long jumper, followed by a Highley stickback. Fenumiai sank a free throw and then buried another long jumper before Highley scored again inside.
Junior power forward Taylor Larson scored two straight buckets inside, followed by two jumpers for freshman wing Esra Siddeek to finish out the first-quarter scoring, giving the Bears an 18-0 lead heading into the second period.
The Bears put on a lay-up clinic in the second quarter, upping their lead to 34-0 before freshman Jonelle Staveland put the Falcons on the board with a 3-pointer at the 2:24 mark.
JDHS closed with a 9-0 run, with Tingley scoring five straight points and junior forward Sarah Tarver capping things off with a lay-up off a Tingley dish to give the Bears a 45-3 cushion at the break.
JDHS pushed the lead to 53-3 before freshman forward Shale Kibby scored on the baseline for the Falcons. A Kinsay Marshall stickback made it 57-7, Bears, and Kibby scored a banker in the lane before Fenumiai drained another long jumper to give JDHS a 63-9 lead after three quarters of play.
With the Bears up 73-9, the Falcons scored six of the game's last eight points, including a second 3-pointer for Staveland, who said she was about worn out after dealing with the Bears' relentless defense.
"They knew exactly what we were going to do so we had to really sprint, but I thought we played really well toward the end (of the game). We started making shots. We usually play better after we get down and Coach yells at us," she joked as Nizich stood by and laughed along. "She makes us mad so we try and play better."
Knight said the game was a great send-off for the five seniors, and a good confidence booster before next week's region tournament in Sitka.
"The nice thing is to play in a relaxed format, and we had some kids that struggled with their shooting down in Ketchikan (last weekend)," she said. "Any time you have a chance to build some confidence, it's a great opportunity."
Dierick made her first career start, netting two points on a lay-up to go with two assists and two steals, after joining the team late this season because she originally decided not to play this year.
"I'm definitely glad I rejoined the team. There are no regrets with that," she said. "I don't play very much, so that's why (I was going to sit this season out), but I'm definitely glad I decided to come back. That was my first start in a varsity game. The whole night's been really emotional but it was exciting to get to come out and start.
"The game was great. We just did what we normally do; we ran the court and finished (around the basket)."
Larson led all scorers with 12 points while Highley had 10 to go with seven rebounds and four steals. Johnson, Fenumiai, Tarver and junior forward Hannah Swofford each had eight points.
Staveland led the Falcons with eight points.
JDHS owned the boards, 53-20, scoring 16 second-chance points, and 31 points off 27 TMHS turnovers.
Falcons coach Tanya Nizich said there's been a huge learning curve for her young, inexperienced team this year, but she's proud of the way the girls battled all season long.
"Individually, our players have picked up probably the most information a coach can drive into a brain," she said. "It's a huge overload and for them to take it and show that they can do it is great. I know they can do it, they know they can and I see them do it at practice every day. It's just applying it to the games.
"For instance, Shayla Reeves had never played basketball before," she continued. "She gets my vote for most improved after starting at the bottom on the JV, and now she's on the varsity bench. She has lots of questions and she asks them. I love that."
Nizich also lauded her girls' toughness.
"Jonelle, during a game earlier this year, dislocated her finger. She came running to the sideline with it bent completely out the other way," she said. "Through doctor and parent permission, she's played with it for the majority of the season. That just shows their toughness and their willingness to continue.
"The game tonight was nice to end on an all-Juneau note with the crowd and both Juneau teams. That's awesome and one of these days, we're going to put on a good show for everybody."
The JV Bears won 40-21 behind nine points from Amanda Roemeling and seven from Malin Murray. Shale Kibby led the Falcons with five points.
Juneau-Douglas won the C Team game 50-34, with Jeffrey Pusich scoring 13 points and Jesse Miller 10. Avery Stewart scored 10 points to lead TMHS.
Bears cruise at TMHS
It was all Juneau-Douglas in Friday's matchup of the state's most and least experienced girls' basketball teams as the Crimson Bears rolled to a 70-8 win over the Falcons at Thunder Mountain High School.
JDHS stormed out of the gate early, taking an 18-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Junior forward Taylor Larson went to work on the block for two of the Bears' first four scores, with senior wing Brittany Fenumiai knocking down jumpers for the other two. Fenumiai and Larson each scored six of JDHS's first 12 points, and senior forward Annette Highley got two stickbacks underneath to end the quarter scoring.
Fenumiai buried two long jumpers to start the second quarter off before junior point guard Karli Brakes got to the basket for a lay-in. Fenumiai got a steal and lay-up for a 26-0 JDHS lead before junior forward Jordan Jeans put the Falcons on the board with a banker in the lane at the 3:22 mark of the second quarter.
An Olga Lipson free throw made it 30-3, and junior guard Olivia Henderson set the halftime score at 32-3 with a lay-up for the Bears.
The Bears scored the first 21 points, the first 14 all coming under the basket, of the third quarter to push their lead to 53-3 before freshman forward Shale Kibby sank a 15-foot hook shot for the Falcons' only points of the quarter.
JDHS went back inside for two baskets to start the fourth quarter before getting a couple of 3-pointers from Henderson and Nani Ostrom.
The Bears shot better than 50 percent for the game and scored 30 points off 26 Falcon turnovers, and had 21 assists on 28 field goals. JDHS also outrebounded TMHS 51-16, and had 19 second-chance points.
Fenumiai led the Bears with 14 points, and Larson had 11 points and seven boards. Ostrom had nine points off the bench for JDHS.
Kibby, Jeans and Jonelle Staveland each had two points for TMHS, which shot just 3-for-27 from the field.