When the Juneau-Douglas and Ketchikan boys basketball teams face off, it's one of the season's most anticipated and intense games.
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Now, if only the blizzard-like weather will cooperate.
The Crimson Bears (17-3, 6-0 Southeast) are scheduled to visit the Kings (16-4, 4-2) for a pair of games at 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday. Juneau-Douglas is set to fly out this morning.
"We're going to the airport like the planes are going to leave," JDHS coach Steve Potter said Thursday. "We're not leaving until (Friday) morning so hopefully this will play out."
Assuming JDHS gets to Ketchikan, fans are going to be treated to two of the top-five boys teams in the state battling it out for high stakes.
Juneau-Douglas can sew up a first-round bye in next weekend's Southeast Conference tournament with a victory either Friday or Saturday. Ketchikan, however, needs at least a weekend sweep to send the Crimson Bears to Thursday's play-in game against Sitka (3-17, 0-8).
Juneau-Douglas defeated the Kings on Jan. 19-20 by scores of 63-46 and 61-51. The Crimson Bears have also won 12 straight games heading into this weekend's series.
JDHS boys basketball
Who: No. 1 JDHS (17-3, 6-0) vs. Ketchikan (16-4, 4-2).
When: 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday.
Where: Ketchikan High School.
What's at stake? Juneau-Douglas must win at least one game this weekend to seal a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
"It's leading into regionals and it's another good test for us," Potter said.
The Kings are one of Alaska's few teams who can match up physically with the Crimson Bears.
Ketchikan starting center Damen Bell-Holter stands 6-foot-9, just like Juneau-Douglas senior big man Will Egolf. The Bears' leading scorer and rebounder scored 33 points in the Jan. 19 victory and will be playing NCAA Division I basketball next season for Bradley University.
"I think Will particular enjoys it because he has to concentrate," Potter said of playing the kings. "He's not six inches taller than the guys he's guarding. It's more like what things will be for him next year."
Both teams, however, are more than just their tallest players.
The Kings and Bears boast strong backcourt players. Ketchikan's Matt Boyd is a savvy, smart point guard who can shoot from long range.
For Juneau-Douglas, senior Nico Saldivar has done an outstanding job of directing the Bears' offense. While Saldivar isn't relied upon to score a lot of points, his defense and ability to make smart decisions with the ball makes him invaluable.
"Nico does a pretty good job of keeping Matt in front of him," Potter said. "He can't leave him alone to go double team because he's a pretty good shooter, especially in Ketchikan."
Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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