The Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team will play its final home games of the season when it face Region V-Class 4A rival Sitka at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday in a two-game series at the JDHS main gym.
The Crimson Bears (12-5 overall, 3-1 in region) are coming off a split with defending Region V champion Ketchikan on Feb. 16-17.
After dropping the first game 60-51 to the Ketchikan, the Bears rebounded the following night and recorded a sensational 51-43 victory behind Kacie Murphy's hot shooting from behind the 3-point line.
Murphy hit four three-pointers, including three in a crucial three-minute stretch in the fourth quarter, to lift the Bears over the Kings.
"Kacie has been playing better," head coach Jim Hamey said. "She's starting to make an impact. The big thing with her is how she moves without the ball and gets herself set up."
Jim Hamey will be back on the Bears' bench this weekend after missing the Ketchikan games following surgery on his Achilles' tendon.
Saturday's victory was arguably the biggest win of the season for Juneau, since it tied the Crimson Bears for the region lead with Ketchikan and also avenged last year's loss to the Kings in the Region V championship game.
"I'm real pleased with what the girls have done," Jim Hamey said. "It was quite an accomplishment to come back against an experienced team like Ketchikan. Now I'm anxious to see what we are made of."
Although Juneau remained just out of the top five in the Alaska State Hoops Poll in sixth, the Bears now control their own destiny with four games remaining until the Region V Tournament in Sitka on March 14-17.
"I like our spot right now," said assistant coach Jer Hamey, who took over for his father during the Ketchikan series. "But I think our best games are yet to come."
Sitka comes into town with an 8-9 overall record and 0-6 in region play. The Wolves most recently lost 62-41 and 40-37 in back-to-back games to Ketchikan on Feb. 23-24 in Sitka.
Juneau managed two victories over the Wolves when they met in Sitka on Jan. 19-20, winning 45-31 and 42-30.
"When we played them in Sitka, we pulled away at the very end," Jim Hamey said. "But both games were very close."
The Wolves are lead by 5-foot-11 senior center Breanne Erickson who scored 24 points in two games against the Bears in their last meetings. 5-6 senior forward Jennie Phillips, 5-5 junior forward Chloe Delong, 5-3 junior guard Kim Uddipa and 5-6 sophomore guard/forward Sidney Wyman round out the starters for Sitka.
"Sitka is very capable of playing good basketball," Jim Hamey said. "Our main concern is Erickson. If she gets started, she can fill it up. We have to contain her."
Hilary Rehfeld, Juneau's go-to person the entire season, continues to lead the Bears in scoring with a 13.6 average and added 31 points in the two games against Ketchikan.
"Hilary is greatly improved since last year," Jim Hamey said. "She's stepped up into an important spot on the front line and has done really well."
With two weeks off, the Bears have had ample time to fine-tune their game but a couple of key injuries may hamper the team.
Senior co-captain Michael Kohan sustained a cut on her stomach in a sledding accident and junior guard Suzanne Parr had her knee seize up her after practice on Thursday. Both Kohan and Suzanne Parr are question marks for this weekend.
Sophomore Danielle Larson will likely start in place of Kohan with Murphy being the first person in off the bench.