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A wild student section of painted chests and red mohawks gave the Bears a visible boost to start the year's final home series Friday at Juneau-Douglas High School. Four seniors combined for 41 points in JDHS' 75-49 win, and they matched the 11 three-pointers hung on them by their rivals in an earlier loss in Ketchikan.
Fourth-year players Eric Gross and Sean Bavard led the Bears with 19 and 13 points, respectively. The 6-foot-3-inch Gross snatched eight of his game-high 14 rebounds off the offensive glass while consistently playing head and shoulders above the smaller KayHi posts.
"I was getting some passes, and it helped that all of our shooters caught on fire," Gross said. "My job's easier when I can just grab the ball and kick it out to all of those guys."
The Kings laid off their usual pressing defense during the game, refusing to give Juneau-Douglas extra live practice for the regional tournament beginning this Wednesday in Ketchikan. The move proved to be fatal, as the now-healthy JDHS backcourt consistently found room to shoot over the smaller defenders.
Bavard came off the bench to lead the long ball onslaught, hitting on four of his seven attempts. Junior guard Alex DeRocher hit three of his own, while classmates Reese Saviers and Cody Grussendorf each connected on a pair.
"I just made my first couple (three pointers), and then everything felt pretty good," said Bavard, who denied he was given the extra Senior Night green light to hoist his seven attempts. "We kept passing it around the whole game and never let up."
Both teams started the night slow despite a frantic pace that was fueled by the standing-room-only crowd and continued into the game's final minute. Juneau-Douglas was held scoreless for nearly the first three minutes of the game, while KayHi turned the ball over on each of its opening five possessions.
"It's a rivalry game, so there was definitely some pressure," Gross said. "The crowd was pretty crazy, and I think we were both nervous to start. The last thing we wanted to do was lose at home after we got embarrassed up there."
JDHS led by as many as six points in the opening period, when Bavard's first long ball put them up 13-7 with two minutes remaining. KayHi senior Blake Bousley hit all three free throws after being hacked on a long attempt, and senior Kevin Manabat connected on a deep three-pointer of his own to tie the game with one minute and six seconds left in the stanza. Both teams missed hurried threes in the final 10 seconds to stay even entering the second.
Bousley gave Ketchikan a brief 15-13 lead with a tough putback just 20 seconds into the next period. However, DeRocher responded just seconds later by nailing his first trifecta from the left corner in front of the JDHS student section, and the crowd's ovation carried through a 13-0 Bears run. Cody Grussendorf's steal and breakaway finger-roll at the 4:41 mark put his team up 26-15 and finally forced Kings coach Eric Stockhaussen to call a time-out to settle his troops.
The teams traded baskets, including five three-pointers, for the rest of the half before KayHi senior Paul Manabat hit a running three-point heave off one leg along the left sideline as time expired to pull his team within 38-28 at half-time.
"We had eight turnovers in one of our games against a tough Wasilla team, and then we gave up our first five possessions tonight," Stockhaussen said. "I knew we relied on our press, but I didn't think we relied on it that much. I don't think we ever responded."
Another flurry of botched lay-ups and wild shots opened the second half, with neither team adding to their total before JDHS' Grussendorf had to be helped off the floor at the 5:56 mark. As Juneau-Douglas' primary slasher and assist man, the junior left a noticeable hole in the Bear's offensive attack.
The Kings finally scored 30 seconds later off senior Trent Headley's short hook and pulled to a 38-33 lead when junior Jeff Whicker converted on a three-point play with 4:49 in the period.
But the Bears finally got on the board at the 4:30 mark, when Gross picked up an easy lay-up from under the backboard. Saviers and Bavard followed with a three-pointer each during a 23-second spurt, and Gross finished the 10-0 JDHS run with a pair of free throws to push their lead to 48-33 with 1:49 remaining in the third.
Ketchikan never pulled within single digits the rest of the way. The lead ballooned during a still-competitive fourth quarter highlighted by threes from each of the Bears' four shooters.
Freshman point guard Lance Ibesate also picked up an ovation late in the third after using a crossover to lose his Kings defender before finding Bavard for a triple on the left elbow. Ibesate doubled his applause in the game's final minutes by throwing his 5-foot-4-inch frame into a trio of Kings defenders for a three-point play opportunity.
Nine Juneau-Douglas players scored in the game, with seniors Corey Mahar scoring seven and Alex Fagerstrom adding two points to those of classmates Gross and Bavard. The team's fifth senior, post Geoff Craig, did not play in the game.
Grussendorf chipped in 13 points, DeRocher nine and Saviers six.
Paul Manabat was the only King in double figures with 15, including a trio of three-pointers. Matt Carpenter added nine and Whicker six to the Ketchikan effort.
JDHS JV 60, KayHi JV 56
Mark Enriquez pumped in 12 points, Jazz King added 10 and the Juneau-Douglas High School boys junior varsity basketball team held off a late Kings comeback attempt to pick up the tight win.
The Crimson Bears trailed 14-13 after the first period, but outscored their visitors 36-25 over the second and third quarters before surviving for the victory.
Ketchikan outscored Juneau-Douglas 17-11 in the fourth behind six points from Jesse Lindgren, but fell short in the final minutes.
Eddie Hurtte added nine, Lance Ibesate eight and Eric Fagerstrom six for the Bears.
Lindgren and Chas Allen led the Kings with 15 points apiece.
KayHi 'C' 61, JDHS 'C'47
Ketchikan blew open a 27-24 half-time in the second half to pick up the win over the Juneau-Douglas "C" team Friday night.
Tony Yadao led JDHS with 11 points. Alex Calloway chipped in eight, while Evan Gross and Jacob Saunders added seven apiece.
Kyle Day led the Kings with 15, while Mark Dulay and Andrew Bolton added eight apiece.